The Israeli government must take action against the Palestinian Authority’s (PA) encroachment on Israeli-controlled areas in Judea and Samaria before it is too late, a settlement leader warned after Germany signed a joint cooperation agreement with the PA in which Germany pledged about 100 million euros during the next two years to finance projects in the Gaza Strip and the PA, including Jerusalem.
The German funding will support “vital projects” including the Arab communities in Area C, under full Israeli control as per the Oslo Accords.
The German representative to the PA Oliver Owcza praised “the historical relations and bilateral relations between Palestine and Germany,” reiterating his country’s support for “a negotiated two-state solution, holding elections in Palestine, and respecting human rights and public freedoms.”
Head of the Binyamin Regional Council Yisrael Ganz stated in response that “the Israeli governments have disregarded and are disregarding even today the Arab occupation of Judea and Samaria that is progressing at an alarming rate. Germany is deep in the efforts and it is starting to become too late.”
“There is a need for rapid government mobilization for operations on the ground and for taking steps in the international arena,” he said.
This new German agreement is part of the European Union and Member States’ support for developmental interventions in Area C. The EU openly admits that it works with the PA “to develop Area C and support Palestinian communities,” in an apparent open challenge of Israeli sovereignty in the area.
The Regavim organization, which monitors and pursues legal action against illegal Arab construction, has explained that the PA’s “active and intensive efforts to establish and expand its control of Judea and Samaria, specifically in areas designated to full Israeli jurisdiction under the Oslo Accords, is well documented and undisputed.”
Regavim has told TPS that the “real story” with these EU-funded projects is that they are part of the Fayyad Plan activity.
“According to international law, according to the Oslo Accords, according to Israeli law – no matter how you slice it, the EU is funding illegal activity that is undermining the rule of law and eroding Israeli sovereignty, leading the area down a collision course, and setting the stage for conflict rather than compromise and negotiation,” the Israeli organization added.
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.
While serving as Defense Minister Naftali Bennet in 2019, he threatened to demolish any illegal Arab construction in Area C, even if it was funded by the EU.
In response to an inquiry on the issue by TPS, a senior official in the Defense Ministry stated Thursday 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.