Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Israel finance minister warns land grab eroding support


JERUSALEM (AFP) -- Finance Minister Yair Lapid warned Tuesday that Israel was eroding its international support after Washington joined a chorus of criticism of its biggest grab of Palestinian land since the 1980s.

Lapid complained that the cabinet had not been consulted about Sunday's announcement of the confiscation of 4,000 dunams (1,000 acres) of land in the occupied West Bank to pave the way for further settlement building.

"The announcement, which wasn't brought to the cabinet, regarding 900 acres of land for building in Gush Etzion (between Jerusalem and Hebron) harms the State of Israel," Lapid told an economic conference in Tel Aviv.

"Maintaining the support of the world was already challenging, so why was it so urgent to create another crisis with the United States and the world?" he asked.

Lapid, a moderate within the governing coalition, was alluding to widespread international condemnation of the high Palestinian civilian death toll during Israel's 50-day war in Gaza.

Justice Minister Tzipi Livni, another cabinet moderate who served as chief negotiator in abortive US-brokered talks with the Palestinians, had already criticized the land grab.

"It weakens Israel and threatens its security," she said on Monday. more

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