In the past 12 years, the Palestinian Authority has built 100 new and illegal schools in Area C, much of them established with international funding.
In 2009, then-prime minister of the Palestinian Authority (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 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.
In the 12 years since, the PA has built 100 new and illegal schools in Area C, much of them established with international funding, a new report by the Regavim Movement shows.
The data in the report, published Tuesday, shows that about 30 schools were built on state land and land with unclear ownership, seven were built inside zones used by the IDF for training, four in nature reserves, six on archeological sites, and three on private land.
19 of the buildings were built in Area B, under PA civil control and joint Israeli-PA security control, but were extended without a permit to adjacent land into Area C, under full Israeli control.
The report also shows that the student concentration in PA schools in Judea and Samaria is 313 students on average in each school, lower than the concentration in schools in Israel with 337 students on average in each school, and significantly lower than the density in schools in Jordan with 476.9 students on average in each school. These data indicate that the establishment of schools does not stem from a need for new schools.
Furthermore, despite attempts to portray the construction of schools as a “humanitarian solution” due to the long distance from the place of residence to the educational institution, Regavim’s examination shows that all the new schools were established only a few hundred meters to 3,000 meters away from existing schools.
Eitan Melet, Regavim’s Field Coordinator for Judea and Samaria, has explained that the PA “is playing hide and seek with the Civil Administration. The PA builds ‘Confrontation Schools’ – illegal schools in Area C – for the purpose of anchoring a network of outposts in Area C.”
Regavim, which is at the forefront of combating the PA’s illegal construction, has been warning for about a decade of the organized PA takeover of open spaces in Judea and Samaria and that the school construction strategy is a key component of this plan.
Meir Deutsch, CEO of the Regavim, accused the State of Israel of lending a hand to the PA’s ploy, and allowing the Palestinian Authority to “act on the ground as it sees fit.”
Israel “does not enforce the law, and knowingly approves of construction plans that Israel knows are a Palestinian strategic tool,” he said.
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.
The comparison of these figures with the Israeli communities in Area C is instructive: Jewish communities currently cover some 2.5% of Area C. In the past decade, Jewish construction in Area C grew by less than 10,000 dunams, covering 47,327 dunams in 2008 and growing to an area of 56,700 dunams in 2018.