July 26, 2019
The PA’s Creeping Takeover of Area C in the West Bank – Yaakov Eliraz (JNS)
The Palestinians have been systematically violating the Oslo II Accords with respect to Area C of Judea and Samaria (the West Bank), where it was agreed that Israel would exercise full civil and security control. The Palestinians have been employing diverse tactics and strategies in an effort to take over parts of Area C and have established a designated government ministry to oversee these efforts. They employ a wide range of incentives to encourage Palestinians to settle in Area C, including tax exemptions, discounts for vehicle registration, and jobs for those who settle.
They engage in large-scale road building and paving projects, launch agricultural projects with the aim of taking over state land, initiate construction projects aimed at occupying lands, and have undertaken a public diplomacy campaign aimed at cementing the idea that Israeli control over Area C is illegitimate.
The process is simple: First, they build illegal structures in an area in which they have a particular interest. This is followed by extensive use of legal means to prevent or delay demolition, as they employ the media and public opinion to portray the demolition efforts as a violation of human rights.
International entities are intensively involved in “regional planning” for the Palestinians in Area C, including the EU, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), the UN Community Resilience and Development Program (CRDP), the British Department for International Development (DFID), the government of France, as well as many other governments and organizations.
The creeping takeover of Area C poses a danger to Israeli freedom of movement, including the free movement of Israeli security forces. Additionally, it threatens Israel’s hold on the Jordan Valley as a buffer zone between it and Jordan.
The Oslo Accords determine that the fate of Area C will be decided exclusively in direct negotiations between the parties, the results of which cannot be foreseen in advance. Accordingly, Israel must thwart any Palestinian attempt to establish facts on the ground that would undermine the status granted these areas in the Oslo Accords.
- The writer served as adviser on settlement affairs under three Israeli defense ministers.