Tuesday, 23 December 2008

'Major Israeli settlement built on Arab land'

An Israeli human rights group says it has found records showing that a major Israeli settlement is constructed on private Palestinian land.

The B'Tselem group released a report on Monday, saying more than half of the Ofra settlement was constructed on Palestinian land and the government should treat the Ofra settlement like an unauthorized settlement outpost and dismantle it as it is illegal.

Israel differentiates between more than 130 sanctioned settlements and dozens of outposts.

B'Tselem notes that while all West Bank settlements are deemed illegal under international law, Ofra should now be treated like an outpost.

The group says that according to the government's own position, a settlement cannot be considered authorized if built on private land.

"The Israeli cabinet decided that an Israeli community in the West Bank that is built on land registered to Palestinians and that was constructed without the requisite permits and without declared boundaries is an illegal outpost which must be dismantled," the report said.

Ofra, near Ramallah in the West Bank, was established in 1975 and has about 3,000 residents.

Israeli settlements on the Palestinian territories are among key issues in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Despite Israel's promises made at the US-hosted Annapolis conference, Tel Aviv keeps destroying Palestinian homes and expanding Jewish settlements on Palestinian land. Israel argues that Palestinian houses in the West Bank are built without the required permission.

The international community has repeatedly criticized Israeli settlement activities on the Palestinian land.

Press TV

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