Finance Minister Yair Lapid slammed Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu for his decision to appropriate 4,000 dunams (1,000 acres) of land in the West Bank, saying the decision damages Israel.
"We need more measured policy conduct, and not to generate unnecessary disputes with the United States and the world," he said at the Calcalist conference in Tel Aviv. The decision to nationalize the land raised the question, "What is this good for, of all times, now?
"This was a grab that was not brought before the cabinet and at this time simply causes damage to the State of Israel," he said.
At the sensitive political time following Operation Protective Edge, when alliances were already strained, "part of responsible behavior is the question of when and how to do things," Lapid said in a jibe to the prime minister.
The IDF conferred the status of state land on 400 hectares in Gush Etzion on Sunday, thereby ending the civil administration’s investigation into the possibility that parcels of it were private Palestinian property.
The designation of an area known as Gva’ot opens the door for settlers to advance plans to build a fifth city in the West Bank on that acreage.
There is a 45-day period for objections to be raised. The land had previously been listed as survey land, a designation that prevented settlers and the army from moving building plans through the planning system.
The move has drawn condemnation from the US, Britain and United Nations.Tovah Lazaroff contributed to this report.