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Palestinians’ new method of encroaching on Israeli land: B&Bs

The Regavim watchdog reports a systematic expansion of these vacation accommodations.

An illegal Palestinian resort in Battir, Gush Etzion. Credit: Regavim.
An illegal Palestinian resort in Battir, Gush Etzion. Credit: Regavim.

Against the backdrop of picturesque vineyards, Palestinians have been illegally developing a cottage industry of luxurious vacation compounds in Area C of Judea and Samaria, territory where Israel should have full control under the provisions of the Oslo Accords.

Nestled deep within the heart of Judea and Samaria, these vacation homes and resorts cater to Palestinians by providing an experience complete with spacious guest houses, pristine lawns, inviting pools and gourmet dining establishments.

One such establishment, located in the Palestinian village of Battir, near the Jewish community of Beitar Illit in Gush Etzion, demonstrates just how popular they are. After being asked on Facebook about its availability, it responded that “in August, the occupancy is full, sorry.”

For a fee of 1,200 shekels ($315), guests can get a bed and breakfast experience for an entire day in such a complex.

The Regavim watchdog, which has been monitoring these trends, has shared some of the findings showing the systematic expansion of these luxury vacation accommodations far from the scrutiny of Israeli authorities. Some of this activity has been endorsed and backed by the Palestinian Authority Ministry of Tourism, with their stated objective being “to prevent settlers from taking over the territory,” according to Regavim.

Field coordinator Menash Shmueli of Regavim’s Judea and Samaria division recently used drone technology to document at least four such compounds, with one of the most significant establishments situated in Battir.

“They started this six months ago in that village, with the B&Bs situated on the border of the Green Line, where there’s no fence, affording views of Jerusalem,” Shmueli explained.

In recent years, Battir has transformed into a tourist destination, boasting archaeological digs, high-end dining and other forms of entertainment. This is complemented by the absence of a security barrier due to it being a UNESCO-designated heritage site.

In Jericho, the Regavim team identified an establishment situated partially in Area A (where there is full Palestinian Authority control under Oslo) and with another part in Area C, bordering the Hasmonean Palaces archaeological site.

Shmueli says this complex might be owned by Israeli Arabs and that it offers activities such as ATV tours and other attractions at a rate of 1,500 shekels ($395) per day.r

“This complex matches the standards of a five-star hotel, boasting three bedrooms, three bathrooms and two kitchens,” he said.

“Their strategy is very easy to discern: By promoting those sites they claim that they could help ‘prevent an Israeli takeover of Judea and Samaria.’

“A developer usually seeks peace and tranquility rather than noise, so ostensibly it appears counterproductive to build in a contentious location. This is why the Palestinian Authority backs these projects. Instead of single-family homes, these become complexes where thousands of people visit each year, reinforcing the Palestinian presence in the area,” Shmueli said.

Originally published by Israel Hayom.

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