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Peace Now revises claims on settlements

A new report from Peace Now finds that less private land was used for West Bank settlements than the group previously had claimed.     In a report issued Wednesday, the dovish group said that 32.4 percent of land on which settlements were built was seized from private owners, and can’t tell if it was taken from Arabs or Jews. In November, Peace Now had claimed that nearly 39 percent of the land for West Bank settlements had been privately owned, almost all of it by Palestinians.     The amended report is based on data from the Israeli Defense Ministry’s Civil Administration, which oversees non-military affairs in the West Bank and which released the information under court order. A copy of the report was leaked to the New York Times.    The biggest change relates to Ma’aleh Adumim, the largest settlement in the West Bank and one that Israel says it will not relinquish under any peace agreement. In November, Peace Now claimed that 86 percent of Ma’aleh Adumim’s land had been privately owned by Palestinians. The latest report, however, says that only 0.5 percent of Ma’aleh Adumim’s land had been privately owned.    In settlements west of the security fence, which Israel intends to keep, the amount of privately owned land is 24 percent, according to the new report, not 41.4 percent as Peace Now earlier had claimed, the Times reported.    An Israeli official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Peace Now had artificially inflated its findings by including scores of illegal settlement outposts that the government has long vowed to dismantle.