The Gush Etzion Regional Council and local residents recently discovered the construction of a highway starting at Za’atara village, 11 km southeast of Bethlehem in Gush Etzion, north of the Herodion site, and reaching into the Judean Desert. At the start of the new road stands a sign in Arabic saying it was paved with foreign funding and assistance from the Palestinian Authority.
Mind you, the new highway is built in an agreed upon nature reserve area, where roads and buildings are not allowed to be constructed per the Oslo Accords.
According to the Gush Etzion Regional Council, the road is another part of the ongoing effort to damage the contiguous Jewish territory in Gush Etzion. It provides access to new, illegal Arab neighborhoods in the Gush Etzion area, facilitating faster development.
Back in 2009, Salam Fayyad, then prime minister of the Palestinian Authority and its finance minister, issued the “Fayyad Plan,” aimed at creating facts on the ground, especially in Area C, with major international support, to transform international recognition of a de facto Palestinian state into a de jure state should Israel fail to deliver on its Oslo promises. Over the past 13 years, with increasing speed, the PA has been pursuing Fayyad’s policy, often with the tacit approval of the IDF civil administration and most defense ministers in Netanyahu’s and Lapid’s governments.
The Gush Etzion Regional Council says the paved road was built on preserved territories which the Palestinian Authority undertook in the Oslo Accords not to build homes or roads. Naturally, they had no intention of keeping their commitment, and Area C, especially near the robust Gush Etzion Jewish community, is flooded with illegally built PA homes and roads.
“They are building a city here under our noses, without permission, which damages nature. This road must be to be destroyed,” the council says.
With an eye to the new Netanyahu government, where Bezalel Smotrich will be an adjunct minister in charge of the Judea and Samaria Civil Administration, the council notes: “We will continue to monitor the area and ensure that the Arabs do not succeed in usurping our land, but the job belongs to the State of Israel. The state must come to its senses and destroy the illegal buildings and roads before it’s too late. It’s a cry for the generations that harms nature in the Judean desert – where are all the green organizations?”
Gush Etzion Council and Yesha Council Head Shlomo Neeman reiterated that council employees are working day and night to expose the hostilities carried out by the Arabs on Israeli lands, and “foreign governments that don’t give a hoot about the State of Israel transfer huge sums to the Palestinian Authority to violate international agreements.”
“This is inconceivable, and the State of Israel must do everything to preserve these territories before it’s too late,” Neeman demanded. “It’s simply amazing that the only one in the whole world who’s keeping the Oslo Accords is the State of Israel.”