|Palestinian Police Active on Outskirts of Jerusalem|
|by Linda Gradstein and Felice Friedson
November 10, 2013
Some see possible effort to exert control in “Area C”
Linda Gradstein and Felice Friedson/The Media Line
Five hundred members of the Palestinian security services entered the Palestinian village of Al-Ram on the northern outskirts of Jerusalem this weekend, according to Palestinian police spokesman Adnan Damiri, and arrested at least 25 people suspected of criminal activity. Al-Ram is in Area “C,” the designation created by the 1993 Oslo Accords for land under Israeli security and administrative control — about 60 percent of the West Bank including includes all of the Jewish communities built on land Israel acquired in the 1967 war.
“Since the Oslo agreement, we didn’t have a security control in these areas,” Damiri told The Media Line. “The Israeli police didn’t give any attention to these areas. Drugs, theft, and crime affected the lives of people there.”
Since Israel is in complete control of Area C, the Palestinian police had to obtain Israeli permission in order to act inside of the zone.
“We asked our friends in the European countries to help us pressure Israel to allow us to go to these areas,” he said. “Recently we reached an agreement that allows us to fight the crime and drugs there and stay for 10 days.”
Israeli police spokesman Mickey Rosenfeld denied there had been any change in Israel’s position.
“In Area C, the Palestinian Authority is responsible for regular activities like fighting crime, drugs and stolen vehicles,” he told The Media Line. “The Israeli police coordinate with the Palestinian police on different operations in different areas.”
Rosenfeld said that two weeks ago, representatives of the Israeli and Palestinian police met to discuss coordination on issues like these.
Damiri, however, said it is very difficult for Palestinian police to get an Israeli agreement to operate in Area “C.” In Area “A,” the 20 percent of the West Bank which includes the Palestinian cities of Ramallah, Nablus, Jenin, Bethlehem, and part of Hebron, the Palestinian Authority is responsible for both security and civilian activities. In Area “B,” which includes many of the Palestinian villages, Israel is responsible for security, while the Palestinian Authority controls municipal activities.
Al-Ram is a Palestinian village just outside the barrier that Israel has built in and around the West Bank. It is next to Qalandiya, the main crossing point between Israel and the West Bank and the site of frequent clashes between Israeli soldiers and Palestinian youth.
Palestinians have been complaining that crime has been increasing in several neighborhoods that, unlike Al-Ram, are part of Jerusalem’s expanded municipal borders. But since they lie outside the barrier, Israeli police rarely enter to enforce law and order.
In the case of Al-Ram, which is Area “C,” it comes as Palestinians have launched a campaign to try to increase their control of the area, which makes up the majority of the West Bank.
A senior well-informed Palestinian told The Media Line that Palestinians are launching a program to establish new business ventures inside of Area “C,” out of fear that Israel could eventually annex part of the area. Some Israelis believe the Palestinians are orchestrating international support to break Israeli control of Area “C” as provided by the Oslo Accords in the same manner the international community assisted in getting Israel to agree to release 104 long-term security prisoners from its jails. The move comes as US Secretary of State John Kerry is trying to broker a peace deal that would involve an Israeli withdrawal from much of the West Bank in exchange for a peace treaty.
Palestinians are concerned that Israel will try to hold onto large chunks of Area “C” including the areas called “settlement blocs” that house the Jewish communities on the West Bank. One way of holding onto that area is by having a police force there.
Damiri said the agreement is that the police will stay there for ten days. Although Al-Ram is not part of Jerusalem, many of the Palestinians there are residents of Jerusalem. It is not clear whether these residents who are suspected of crimes would be tried in an Israeli or a Palestinian court.
The matter of police enforcement also underscores the difficulty that the two sides will have if, in the future, there is any division of the area into two states.
Diana Atallah contributed reporting from Ramallah