Barack Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu

Butchering Gaza was not enough. As punishment for the kidnapping and killing of three Israelis, Israel’s Civil Administration in the West Bank has decided to take a large amount of Palestinian land for a new settlement to be called Gvaot. The land being taken represents the largest land appropriation in the West Bank in 30 years according to Peace Now, a group that monitors Israeli settlement activity. Five Palestinian villages in the Bethlehem area will be effected by the land grab.

Despite citing the recent killings as justification, it appears the plan to take the land had long been in the works. The Israeli government invited bids last year for housing units to built on a site that would ultimately be part of the proposed Gvaot settlement.

The move is the latest of a series of plans designed to attach the Etzion settlement bloc to Jerusalem and its environs. Construction of a major settlement, known as Gvaot, at the location has been mooted by Israel since the year 2000. Last year, the government invited bids for the building of 1,000 housing units at the site, and 523 are currently under construction. Ten families now live on the site, which is adjacent to a yeshiva.

Justice Minister Tzipi Livni told IDF Radio last night that the timing of the announcement was inappropriate. “Israel now needs to be recruiting the world to prevent steps being taken against it, and to work together with those moderate forces” she said. “Anything that can turn attention toward us and arouse criticism against us hurts the very things we are trying to achieve.”

Yes, the largest taking of Palestinian land in 30 years based on the principle of collective punishment – a war crime – might arouse criticism. Good call Justice Minister Livni, good call.

Though fortunately for Israeli settlers, the Obama Administration has made it clear that they will whine about Israeli crimes but not actually do anything about them. Instead Obama and company will offer sullen lamentations on how peace is out of reach and how hard it is to figure out policy solutions in the Middle East – all while shipping arms to the IDF and vetoing resolutions at the UN that would deter this activity.

Maybe if we just hope for change.

Photo by the White House under public domain.