Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu last week approved the confiscation of private Palestinian land in the Palestinian village of Karyut in the Occupied West Bank for Israeli settlement activity. The move is the first of its kind in three years and the first during Netanyahu’s current term. The confiscation breaks the terms of the agreement with the United States not to confiscate land for settlement expansion.The Israeli Civil Administration last week declared the confiscation of 189 dunams of private Palestinian land for the Hayovel neighbourhood in the Israeli settlement of Eli, according to Haaretz. The Administration cited Ottoman Law from 1858 in justifying the expropriation.

The move will contribute to retroactively legalising Hayovel which was judged to be private Palestinian land in a 2005 Israeli report. Hayoyel was built in 1998 as a settler outpost after which permenant structures, including a road, were built.

Netanyahu had repeated guaranteesa made by his predecessors Arial Sharon and Ehud Barrack to the US that private land would not be confiscated in the territories to expand settlement activity. ‘We have no intention to build new settlements or set aside land for new settlements. But there is a need to have people live normal lives and let mothers and fathers raise their children like everyone in the world”, he stated.

Israel uses a mix of British, Ottoman and Israeli military law when dealing with Palestinians in the Occupied Territories. The 1858 Ottoman Land Law states that working and cultivating land for 10 years results in ownership of the land irrespective of how it was acquired. The law has been used extensively to expand existing Israeli settlements as well as create new ones.

Palestinian negotiators have demanded an end to Israeli settlement expansion as a precondition for peace talks. The International Court of Justice has ruled that Israeli settlement in the Palestinian territories is illegal under international law.

Palestinians now have 45 days to appeal the ruling.