The Palestinian move is the latest in an ongoing battle over Judea and Samaria.
By World Israel News Staff
The Palestinian Authority (PA) has begun issuing building permits in Area C of Judea and Samaria, reports Haaretz.
According to Haaretz, the self-rule authority is following through on the threat by PA Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh nearly a month ago and has started the process of issuing building permits in Area C.
“Israel no longer respects any of the signed agreements and has started to deal with all places as if they are part of Area C. Therefore, we will deal with all places as if they are part of Area A,” Shtayyeh said.
It is the latest move in an ongoing battle over the different sections of Judea and Samaria, divided into Areas A, B, and C under the terms of the Accords reached in the mid-’90s that granted self-rule to the Palestinians. Area C is under Israeli control, Area A under PA control, and Area B under mixed authority of Israel and the PA.
The Palestinian prime minister’s warning followed on the immediate heels of an Israeli Security Cabinet decision, at the end of July, to approve 700 housing units for Palestinians in Area C.
The rare Israeli move drew opposition from some cabinet members, but Transportation Minister Bezalel Smotrich supported it, saying that, in fact, the decision “thwarts the establishment of a Palestinian state” in Judea and Samaria.
He said that “in Area C, construction for Arabs will be carried out only for those who are original residents of the area [C] since 1994,” a reference to the time of the establishment of Palestinian self-rule, “and not for Arabs who arrived afterward from Areas A and B.”
It is not clear whether the assertion by Smotrich triggered the Palestinian prime minister’s announcement claiming that the PA had the authority to allow Arabs to live in Area C.
The region in question includes Israeli communities and some Arab villages but also a large percentage of territory which is open and undeveloped land.
The agreements with the Palestinians had envisioned an eventual Palestinian state and a key question was how much of Area C would go to that state.
During Benjamin Netanyahu’s first term in office, 1996-1999, his government had initially decided to hand over some of Area C to the PA but never did because of rampant Palestinian terror.
Netanyahu instituted a policy of “reciprocity,” stipulating that Israel would honor agreements with the Palestinians only if the PA did its part in countering terror and incitement.
Even before the PA’s announcement on issuing building permits in Area C, Regavim, an NGO which monitors Palestinian construction, had accused the self-rule authority of allowing illegal Arab construction in Area C.
Regavim reported in 2017, “Since 2009, the Palestinian Authority has been making methodical progress toward the unilateral creation of a Palestinian state by means of large-scale land theft.”