(JNS.org) Germany and France on Wednesday echoed the U.S. State Department's accusation that Israel has appropriated large tracts of land near the Dead Sea and Jericho.
In January it was reported that the mostly desert terrain lands in the Jordan Valley were being reclassified by Israeli government officials. On Tuesday, a spokesman for the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) said the 578 acres of land "have been declared as state lands," the Jerusalem Post reported.
"This decision sends a wrong signal at the wrong time," the German Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
"Especially in the current tense situation, both parties in the Middle East conflict are called on to take steps for a de-escalation and to find ways that lead to an urgently needed resumption of peace negotiations," the statement said.
France's Foreign Ministry spokesman, Romain Nadal, said Israel's decision violates international law and "contradict[s] commitments made by Israeli authorities in favor of a two-state solution."
On Tuesday, the U.S. State Department spokesman John Kirby said in a press briefing that the U.S. opposes "any steps that accelerate settlement expansion, which raises serious questions about Israel's long-term intentions."
"This decision is, in our view, the latest step in what appears to be an ongoing process of land expropriations, settlement expansions, and legalizations of outposts that is fundamentally undermining the prospects for a two-state solution," Kirby said.