the Jordan Valley

For the last 48 years Palestinians living in the Jordan Valley have had vast swathes of their land stolen by the occupation forces and handed over to Israel’s illegal colonies and the occupying army.

The legal matrix of Ottoman laws and military rule imposed on West Bank residents facilitates this theft and allows the robbers to act with impunity.

On 20th January 2016 Israeli news reports from the Times of Israel and Reuters revealed plans for more government sanctioned land seizures that had been announced on Israeli Army Radio.

370 acres of fertile, agricultural land south of Jericho near the illegal colony of Almog is to be confiscated and turned into ‘state lands’ in the largest such land appropriation since August 2014. The experience of Palestinians in the Jordan Valley is that the land will then be handed over to a nearby colony, or used to create a new colony, with the express purpose of exploiting the land and water for industrial scale agribusiness.

Israel has previously used an 1858 Ottoman law stating that land which lies fallow for several years could revert to government property as the legal basis for such moves.

The Reuters report said Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon had already signed off on the appropriation and that technical details were being finalised ahead of a declaration which is expected soon. COGAT, part of the Israeli Defense Ministry, stated in an email to Reuters that “the lands are in the final stages of being declared state lands.”

Hanan Ashrawi, a senior official in the Palestine Liberation Organization and quoted in the Reuters report, described Israel’s reported move as a violation of international law. She challenged the international community to hold Israel to account.

“Israel is stealing land specially in the Jordan Valley under the pretext it wants to annex it,” she told Reuters. “This should be a reason for a real and effective intervention by the international community to end such a flagrant and grave aggression which kills all chances of peace.”

Palestinians have called on the United Nations Security Council to declare this action as illegal. In a statement U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon denounced the move stating: “Settlement activities are a violation of international law and run counter to the public pronouncements of the government of Israel supporting a two-state solution to the conflict.”