Kerry calls Netanyahu to protest land grab

The U.S. Secretary of State is to meet with the Palestinian negotiator in Washington to discuss the situation

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U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry protested the Israeli decision to appropriate more than 900 acres of land belonging to Palestinian villages in the West Bank in a phone call with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu early on Wednesday, Israeli newspaper Haaretz reports.

The call follows comments from State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki in Tuesday’s press briefing that this new settlement activity sent a “very troubling message” in light of the recent war between Israel and the Hamas movement in Gaza and the collapse of U.S.-led peace talks this April.

The appropriation, announced in a statement by the Israeli Defense Forces on Sunday, came less than a week after a ceasefire agreement ended the 50-day war.

The American comments now join condemnation from the larger international community, including the UK, Italy, France, Spain and the European Union. These international observers fear this new settlement could spark renewed tensions with Palestinians in the occupied territories.

Secretary Kerry is set to meet with chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat in Washington on Wednesday, to discuss the land appropriation and the wider peace process.

“The international community should hold Israel accountable as soon as possible for its crimes and raids against our people in Gaza and the ongoing Israeli settlement activity in the West Bank and East Jerusalem,” Erekat said on Sunday in response to the Israeli military’s announcement.

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