‘Real Danger’: Gush Etzion Council demands action against illegal Arab city

The Council has begun a campaign to stop the construction, which represents a loss of government control in a strategic area of the country.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

The Gush Etzion Regional Council has begun a campaign to stop the construction of a new Arab city that is being built illegally and would endanger the country’s security.

Titled “Everything is expected and the [Palestinian] Authority [PA} builds,” which is a play on words from a popular song, the Council is demanding that the government use its authority to halt the massive project in an area that was supposed to remain a pristine nature reserve as per the Oslo Accords.

“This city is a barbaric devastation, a blow to the settlement movement, a final loss of governance on the most serious level and in addition, obviously, it violates international agreements and understandings,” charged Council head Shlomo Ne’eman.

“It presents a real danger to… the State,” he added, noting that it can become a source of terrorist attacks.

Jerusalem is the largest city neighboring the region, and no stranger to Palestinian terrorism.

The city is also destroying the Judean Desert on which it sits, said the Council, and Neeman called for “all of the decision-makers to come to this treaty reserve to understand the situation and immediately stop the continuation of this dangerous construction.”

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This is not the first city that the PA is building illegally in Area C, which is under total Israeli civilian and military control.

In 2018, the Regavim Movement, which meticulously researches the phenomenon of illegal Palestinian construction, petitioned the High Court of Justice about an illegal city in the South Hebron Hills that then consisted of 1,700 illegal structures, including homes, schools, clinics, and mosques covering tens of thousands of dunams in what had been an off-limits IDF training ground.

That area, it told the court, was “of critical strategic importance, creating a contiguous Arab pale of settlement that stretches from the Arad Valley through Mt. Hebron and eastern Gush Etzion.”

The State at the time said it was carrying out law enforcement procedures “according to its priorities,” while Regavim presented evidence that nothing was being done to reverse the unlawful building.

Arab construction in general in Area C is not at all haphazard, according to Regavim. It is strategically placed to create contiguous Arab settlement, especially in northern Samaria, “isolate and strangulate Jewish communities,” and build along both planned and existing highways, including Routes 55 and 60, the main roads of Samaria and Judea respectively.

The PA is able to fund all this work due to huge donations it receives from the EU, the group said. It is executing the Fayyad Plan, named for former Palestinian prime minister Salaam Fayyad, who almost 15  years ago wrote the particulars of mass-scale illegal construction with the goal of creating a much larger Palestinian state by virtue of changing the facts on the ground in Area C.