Israel gives settlers 2,100 acres of Palestinian land in the West Bank

Israel gives settlers 2,100 acres of Palestinian land in the West Bank
Israeli two-state solution campaign group Peace Now was sent a reply by Israel's agriculture ministry, revealing that $1.17 million was given last year to groups involved in illegal agricultural settlements.
3 min read
29 July, 2021
Illegal Israeli agricultural settlements are located in many West Bank areas [David Silverman/Getty-file photo]

Israeli settlers have been given around 2,100 acres of farm and grazing land in the occupied West Bank, despite lacking building approval, Israel's agricultural ministry has said.

This came in reply to an inquiry from Israeli two-state solution campaign group Peace Now concerning the financing of organisations providing security and volunteers at the agricultural land, Haaretz reported on Thursday.

Three organisations, Hashomer Yosh and Kedma, in addition to Beit Yattir, which instructs students prior to their recruitment into the Israeli army, are given money by Israel's agriculture ministry, the report says.

These groups supply volunteer agricultural staff at the illegal farms in question, According to Haaretz.

Peace Now urged authorities to cease their backing for the agricultural settlements to "avoid more 'Evtayars'", in reference to a West Bank settlement whose occupants recently left Mount Sabih in a deal with the Israeli government which stipulates the military will oversee structures there.

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Settlers cannot be permitted "to illegally set Israel's foreign and security policies", Peace Now argued.

The group noted it was hard to comprehend "why a government ministry allows itself to take millions of shekels in public funds and give it to groups that are attached at the navel to illegal activity".

Hashomer Yosh, Kedma and Beit Yattir were together afforded the current equivalent of $1.17 million last year, with $1.11 million given in 2019 in connection with their work at the illegal outposts.

The illegally occupied West Bank has many sites where Israelis graze animals and 30 or more were constructed by the Amana settler group in previous years.

Despite occupying large areas of land, they remain largely uninhabited due to the amount of ground used for the animals.

In its correspondence with Peace Now, the agriculture ministry revealed the existence of agricultural settlements with grazing permits in many parts of the West Bank, including the Jordan Valley, near Ramallah, and in the Hebron Hills.

Israel's Agriculture Ministry has commented.

Israel's Agriculture Ministry has commented said it "gives grants only for lands properly arranged by the Civil Administration" under the method the ministry crated for determining ownership of plots located in the West Bank.

The term "grants" appears to refer to the monetary awards the agriculture ministry makes.

The ministry added that, regarding Hashomer Yosh, it also verified "the farm is indeed supported in the framework of the ministry's support for 'volunteer organisations'", noting that these groups have permits.

It said Hashomer Yosh complied with its rules.

Applications made by the settler organisations were for far greater plots than the areas they acquired support for.

Israeli settlements have come under additional scrutiny recently after US ice cream firm Ben & Jerry's decided to pull the plug on its sales in the occupied Palestinian territories, meaning an effective boycott of West Bank outposts.

The company did, however, say it would still be operating in Israel.