update deskIsrael-Palestinian Conflict

Israeli coalition lawmakers fight back after PA claims Area C ‘part of Palestine’

P.A. Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh had accused the Israeli government of working towards "annexation" of Area C of Judea and Samaria.

Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh attends the inauguration of a municipal water project in northern Samaria, Sept. 3, 2022. Photo by Nasser Ishtayeh/Flash90.
Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh attends the inauguration of a municipal water project in northern Samaria, Sept. 3, 2022. Photo by Nasser Ishtayeh/Flash90.

Members of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s ruling coalition on Tuesday pushed back against claims by the Palestinian Authority that Area C of Judea and Samaria forms an “integral part of the state of Palestine,” stressing that the Jewish people have a “natural, historical and legal right” to the disputed territory.

“This morning, the Palestinian prime minister openly announced the intention of the P.A., and all its bodies and offices, to violate the agreements and continue to take control of Area C,” the Knesset Land of Israel Caucus wrote on the social-media platform, referring to the territory that comprises some 60% of Judea and Samaria and was placed under Israeli control by the Oslo Accords.

“If we don’t wake up, we don’t increase enforcement, and we don’t stop the P.A. in these actions, it will be a tragedy for generations. The Jewish people have a natural, historical and legal right to the entire Land of Israel—from the south to the north. Even Mohammad Shtayyeh will not be able to oppose this basic truth,” continued the post.

In Arabic remarks translated by the Regavim watchdog group on Monday, Shtayyeh had accused “the current Israeli government and its predecessors” of working towards the “annexation” of Area C.

“Area C is an integral part of the lands of the state of Palestine,” the P.A. prime minister told his colleagues ahead of a meeting in Ramallah. “Today, the government will discuss strengthening the steadfastness of our people in the so-called C areas, as well as our infrastructure in those areas.”

“The prime minister of the Palestinian Authority, Shtayyeh, made it clear that Area C is part of the state of Palestine and all the P.A.’s resources are invested in this area. Let it be clear to every right-wing person,” commented Likud Party lawmaker Tally Gotliv on X.

“For those who prefer facts over burying their heads in the sand,” said Gotliv about the recording of Shtayyeh’s speech.

The Oslo Accords (1993-95) divided Judea and Samaria into three zones: Areas A, B and C. The Palestinians have full and partial control of Areas A and B, respectively, where about 90% of the total Arab population resides. By agreement, Israel fully controls Area C, including authorizing construction.

However, according to recent estimates, Palestinians have illegally built on more than 2,000 acres of Area C, spread across 250 different locations. This does not include 373 miles of illegally built roadways, in addition to more than 70 miles of retaining walls and terracing.

Last month, the Gush Etzion Regional Council launched a campaign calling on the Israeli government to act against the construction of an illegal P.A. city in the Judean Desert.

Under the 1998 Wye River Memorandum, intended to facilitate the implementation of the Oslo II agreement, the construction site is designated as a nature reserve, and Ramallah agreed it would make “no changes in the status of these areas.”

Following the launch of the campaign, Gush Etzion Regional Council head Shlomo Ne’eman, who has also served as the head of the Yesha Council since 2022, received credible threats from Palestinian terrorists, warranting a round-the-clock security detail.

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