Israel claims West Bank land for possible settlement use, draws U.S. rebuke

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Israeli women walk in a Jewish settlement known as ''Gevaot'', in the Etzion settlement bloc, near Bethlehem August 31, 2014. Israel announced on Sunday a land appropriation in the occupied West Bank that an anti-settlement group termed the biggest in 30 years and a Palestinian official said would cause only more friction after the Gaza war. Some 400 hectares (988 acres) in the Etzion settlement bloc near Bethlehem were declared ''state land, on the instructions of the political echelon'' by the military-run Civil Administration. Construction of a major settlement at the location has been mooted by Israel since 2000. Last year, the government invited bids for the building of 1,000 housing units at the site. REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun (WEST BANK - Tags: POLITICS SOCIETY)