Israel is claiming 40 hectares of land in the occupied West Bank, sparking condemnation from Palestine and a rebuke from the United States.
The land is in the Etzion Jewish settlement bloc near Bethlehem and is the biggest appropriation by Israel in the past 20 years, according to an anti-settlement group quoted by Reuters.
The US State Department urged Israel to reverse the decision, calling it counterproductive to efforts to achieve a two-state solution to its conflict with the Palestinians.
Israel Radio said the step was taken in response to the kidnapping and killing of three Jewish teens by Hamas militants in the area in June, the report said.
But a notice published on Sunday by the Israeli military gave no reason for the land appropriation decision.
Peace Now, which opposes Israeli settlement activities in the West Bank which the the Palestinians seek for a state, said the appropriation was meant to turn a site where 10 families now live adjacent to a Jewish seminary into a permanent settlement.
Nabil Abu Rdainah, a spokesman for Western-backed Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, called on Israel to cancel the appropriation.
“This decision will lead to more instability. This will only inflame the situation after the war in Gaza,” Abu Rdainah said.
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