07/09/2011, 00.00
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Record settler attacks against Palestinian farmland in West Bank

The Palestinian Authority complains about hundreds of trees set on fire and grape vines uprooted in Hebron, Ummar and Nablus in the first week of June. The Israeli government again starts confiscating land to legalise settlements.
Jerusalem (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Attacks by Jewish settlers on West Bank farmland and crops increased in June, a report released by the Palestinian Authority has shown.

In the first week of June, settlers burnt 350 trees near Nablus, 20 grape vines in Hebron and uprooted 40 grape vines in Bait Ummar village as well as destroyed many hectares of farmland and more than 1,000 olive trees. "These attacks are part of a campaign to terrorise Palestinian farmers and their families," the report said.

Israeli police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said he was unaware of any statistics indicating a rise in violence in the West Bank. "Any reports of violence, whether by settlers or by Palestinians, is investigated and dealt with after an official complaint is received," he said.

However, annual figures compiled by the Israeli rights group Yesh Din about complaints of settler offences have repeatedly shown that nine out of ten police investigations fail to lead to a prosecution.

Instead of stopping illegal land occupation, the Israeli government after a three-year hiatus is back confiscating uncultivated land to legalise West Bank settlements.

This violates Israel's long-standing commitment to the United States not to expropriate Palestinian lands for settlement expansion.

A few days ago, Israeli authorities confiscated about 20 hectares of land belonging to the Palestinian village of Karyut to be state land, to legalise retroactively houses and a road built in 1998in the Hayovel neighbourhood of the settlement of Eli.

For its part, the US Congress has threatened to cut off funds to the Palestinian National Authority if Hamas and Fatah leaders continue to put pressures on the United Nations for the recognition of a Palestinian state.

With 406 votes out of 435, the House of Representatives urged Palestinian leaders to reject terrorism and accept Israel’s right to exist as a precondition to any kind of recognition.
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