Israeli soldier guards a West Bank settlement
Israel has announced it is claiming more land in the West Bank for its use. (Baz Ratner/Reuters_

Israel has announced it is to expropriate 400 hectares (988 acres) of land near Bethlehem in the occupied West Bank.

According to an AFP report, the Israeli military has said: "On the instructions of the political echelon… 4,000 dunams at (the settlement of) Gevaot is declared as state land."

The announcement comes four days after a month-long conflict in the Gaza Strip ended with a long-term ceasefire between Hamas and Israel.

Israel's settlements in the West Bank are a key cause of tension between the state and the Palestinian Authority.

In June Israeli lawmakers pressed Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to release information about the rising levels of funding for the West Bank settlements, claiming the secrecy is unjustified.

The international community, including the Red Cross, United Nations, and the International Court of Justice, have ruled that Israel's settlements in the West Bank are illegal, as they break laws set out in the Fourth Geneva Convention.

Israel maintains that the Convention does not apply the territories it occupied during the 1967 six-day war.

The Israeli announcement said that concerned parties have 45 days to appeal the land grab.