israel settlement west bank jews palestine conflict war conflict israel america us
israel settlement west bank jews palestine conflict war conflict israel america usReuters file

Israel remapped over 15,000 acres of West Bank last year to enable its citizens to undertake settlement construction in the territory that Palestinians claim belongs to them. The exercise was carried out by "Blue Line," a special team working for the Civil Administration, the Haaretz reported.

The exercise was significantly higher in scale when compared to previous years, the publication said. While 3,000 acres were remapped in 2013, the exercise spanned about 5,000 acres in 2014.

The existing rules mandate that areas declared as state land before 1999 need to be remapped by the Civil Administration to allow construction.

Haaretz said once the exercise is completed, Palestinian homes would be declared as those built on state (Israeli) land. Also, such an exercise would deprive Palestinians living in "military fire zones" from seeking the High Court of Justice's intervention to stop any (Israeli) activity in those areas.

The news comes even as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hinted at reviving the 2002 Arab peace initiative in response to a statement by Egyptian president Abdel Fattah al-Sisi a few days ago.

"The Arab peace initiative includes positive elements that can help revive constructive negotiations with the Palestinians," Reuters quoted Netanyahu as saying in Jerusalem on Monday.

"We are willing to negotiate with the Arab states revisions to that initiative so that it reflects the dramatic changes in the region since 2002 but maintains the agreed goal of two states for two peoples," he added.

The 2002 Arab peace initiative assures Israel diplomatic recognition from Arab countries if the Jewish state grants statehood to Palestinians.

The initiative was modified three years ago to incorporate "possible land swaps between Israel and the Palestinians" as against the original position that Israel would get full diplomatic recognition only "if it gave up all land seized in the 1967 Middle East war and agreed to a just solution for Palestinian refugees," according to the news agency.