Israel appropriates 42 acres of land in West Bank’s Etzion Bloc, declaring it state land

Jeremy Sharon is The Times of Israel’s legal affairs and settlements reporter

People visit the restored aqueducts from the time of Herod that carried water from Gush Etzion to Jerusalem, October 12, 2022. (Gershon Elinson/Flash90)
People visit the restored aqueducts from the time of Herod that carried water from Gush Etzion to Jerusalem, October 12, 2022. (Gershon Elinson/Flash90)

Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich announces that the Civil Administration, an agency in the Defense Ministry, has declared 170 dunams (42 acres) of land surrounding the Herodium archaeological site in the West Bank region of the Etzion Bloc as “state land,” meaning land that is not privately owned and can be used for various purposes, including settlement development.

Smotrich, who has authority over the Civil Administration as part of his role as an additional minister in the Defense Ministry, says he has been working on advancing declarations of state land in the West Bank over the last year, which he describes as “very important processes in the campaign for open spaces [in the West Bank].”

Gush Etzion Regional Council Mayor Yaron Rosenthal lauded the announcement, saying it will serve as a catalyst for transforming the Herodium tourist and heritage site into an international tourist center. He adds that it will “bring prosperity to the entire region” and is “a magnificent testimony to our historical connection with this part of the country.”

Last month, some 8,000 dunams (1,976 acres) of land was declared state land in the Jordan valley, the largest such declaration in decades according to groups opposed to the settlement movement. The move was condemned by French President Emanuel Macron.

And in February, 2,640 dunams (650 acres) was declared state land east of Jerusalem.

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