Judea and Samaria leaders convene for emergency meeting on Arab takeover

The leaders are “all committed to working together in order to stop the hostile takeover of our lands and in order to preserve the future of Jewish life in Judea and Samaria.”

By Aryeh Savir/TPS

Council heads from Judea and Samaria and those responsible for land preservation in the region met for an emergency meeting to discuss safeguarding State Lands within Area C.

As per the Oslo Accords, Israel signed with the Palestinian Authority, Area C in Judea and Samaria is under full Israeli control. Area A is under full PA control, and Area B is run jointly.

Yesha Council Chairman and Head of the Jordan Valley Regional Council David Elhayani, Gush Etzion Regional Council Head Shlomo Ne’eman, Binyamin Regional Council Head Israel Ganz, Hebron Regional Council Head Yochai Damari, Samaria Regional Council Head Yossi Dagan, Beit El Regional Council Head Shai Alon, Kedumim Regional Council Head Hananel Durani, gathered in the heart of Gush Etzion for the discussion.

They discussed the “very serious developments” in regard to State Lands in Judea and Samaria and released a joint statement underscoring that “this struggle is over whether we continue to exist or fold. This is an existential battle involving the entire Nation of Israel.”

The leaders are “all committed to working together in order to stop the hostile takeover of our lands and in order to preserve the future of Jewish life in Judea and Samaria.”

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A series of operational decisions were made, including the establishment of a joint command center for all the councils and the commitment to form a unified front vis-à-vis IDF officials, the IDF’s Civil Administration, and the government.

Israel has rapidly been losing lands in area C to European Union-funded illegal construction projected executed by the PA.

In 2009, then-prime minister of the PA Salaam Fayyad laid out the Plan for the Creation of the State of Palestine, a methodical program for seizing control of territory in Area C, under full Israeli control as prescribed by the Oslo Accords, to form a broad and viable basis for a Palestinian state, specifically in the areas under Israeli control.

Fayyad’s plan essentially bypasses all negotiations or compromises with Israel and creates facts on the ground.

According to data collected by Regavim, in 2009 the number of illegal Arab structures in Area C stood at 29,784, while in 2018 the number surged to 58,435.

The far more worrying statistic is the area covered by illegal Arab construction: In 2009, some 44,538 dunams of land in Area C were being occupied illegally by Arab construction. In 2018, over 78,626 dunams have been overtaken.

While serving as Defense Minister in 2019, Naftali Bennett threatened to demolish any illegal Arab construction in Area C, even if it was funded by the EU.

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In response to an inquiry on the issue by TPS, a senior official in the Defense Ministry stated that the “phenomenon of illegal Palestinian construction in Area C is one of the main issues that Defense Minister Bennett is dealing with, and he has already begun to work to eradicate the phenomenon.”

At his meeting with EU ambassadors in December 2019, Bennet told the ambassadors that “illegal construction in their financing would be destroyed by Israel” and made it clear that “his position on the issue was unequivocal.”

However, he has failed to act on his pledges.