Middle East Israel expropriates West Bank land, days after Biden visit

Israel expropriates West Bank land, days after Biden visit

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu holds a joint press conference with United States Vice President Joe Biden at the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem, on March 9, 2016, during Biden’s official visit to Israel and the Palestinian Authority.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu holds a joint press conference with United States Vice President Joe Biden at the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem, on March 9, 2016, during Biden’s official visit to Israel and the Palestinian Authority.

Defense officials say Israel has expropriated a large stretch of land in the West Bank, near the city of Jericho, just days after Vice President Joe Biden visited the region.

The move, which was reported in Israeli media earlier, has already drawn a sharp U.S. rebuke.

COGAT, a defense body, said Wednesday that about 580 acres (235 hectares) were seized. The decision was enacted on Sunday.

U.S. State Department spokesman John Kirby said Tuesday that Israeli land expropriations accelerate settlement expansion and are “fundamentally undermining the prospects for a two-state solution” to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

A visit by Biden in 2010 was marked by a diplomatic spat with Washington after Israel announced settlement construction plans during his visit. His last visit was a week ago.

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