Op-Ed: The EU is Putting "Area C" in Play
Ted BelmanThe author is a retired attorney and the editor of Israpundit. In 2009 he made aliya and is now living in Jerusalem.
In July 2011 the EU issued a report focussing on “Area C” and made clear that EU policy was to change the governing rules regarding it, which rules are clearly set out in the Oslo Accords.
On Monday the EU issued a report in which it slams Israel over settlements.
The officials said France, Britain and Germany shepherded the conclusions through the EU, and it reflected the EU’s new Middle East envoy Andreas Reinicke’s focus on maintaining the viability of a two-state solution in face of what the Europeans are increasingly concerned may be a closing window of opportunity.
“The viability of a two-state solution must be maintained,” the statement read, “The EU expresses deep concern about developments on the ground which threaten to make a two state solution impossible.”
Reflecting an emphasis the EU has placed on Area C since career German diplomat Reinicke took over his post in January, the statement said this area is critical to the viability of a future Palestinian state, and called upon Israel to approve Palestinian master plans there, “halt forced transfer of population” and simplify administrative procedures.
Area C represents 62 percent of the West Bank and is under full Israeli control.
“The EU will continue to provide financial assistance for Palestinian development in Area C and expects such investment to be protected for future use,” the statement read. “The EU will engage with the government of Israel to work out improved mechanisms for the implementation of the donor funded projects for the benefit of the Palestinian population in Area C.”
NGO Monitor published EU documents repeat false NGO claims. In advance of this report, UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs says Israel destroyed various infrastructures built with European funds across West Bank, Gaza Strip.
Media covered this report under headlines such as "NGOs: EU’s PA aid projects razed by Israel":
The DWG said that affected structures were financed by France, the Netherlands, Britain, Poland, Ireland and the European Commission.
OCHA said that a total of 620 structures in the West Bank were torn down in 2011, of which 62 were European-funded. Of those affected, 600 were in the Area C, where Israel has full civilian and security control.
All these structures were erected without the required construction permits.
On May 4/12, INN reported Israel’s Civil Administration Helping PA Take Over Area C
"In recent months, the PA has been working to take over the open space in Area C in order to break the Jewish continuity between the communities in the area, particularly in the settlement blocs."
The takeover is being achieved using an organized plan through the establishment of economic and infrastructure projects in the area. In some cases, the PA received approval for the projects from the Civil Administration by order of Defense Minister Ehud Barak.
The applications were filed on behalf of the PA by EU member states, a fact which made it easier for them to be approved by Israel, which is wary of conflicts with the international community.
Mind you, the Oslo Accords provided “Area C” means areas of the West Bank outside Areas A and B, which, except for the issues that will be negotiated in the permanent status negotiations, will be gradually transferred to Palestinian jurisdiction in accordance with this Agreement.This is rarely referred to.
But the Roadmap provides,
“A settlement, negotiated between the parties, will result in the emergence of an independent, democratic, and viable Palestinian stateliving side by side in peace and security with Israel and its other neighbours."
By accepting the Roadmap, Israel in effect accepted a two-state solution. So when Netanyahu gave a speech accepting it, it was not really a break through. It didn’t matter that Likud was against it, the GOI had already accepted it.
Nevertheless the Roadmap is just a blueprint and as such is not binding whereas the Oslo Accords are binding.
In some cases, the PA received approval for the projects from the Civil Administration by order of Defense Minister Ehud Barak.
The Accords provided:
"Neither side shall initiate or take any step that will change the status of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip pending the outcome of the permanent status negotiations".
But what is meant by “status”? I should think it means legal status such as what would flow from annexation. But it could mean changing the authority over each area or changing the boundaries of any of the areas.
The EU likes to say that our settlement policy does just that in addition to charging that the settlements are illegal according to International law. The only law thy rely on is the Fourth Geneva Convention which simply says an Occupying State cannot indirectly transfer populations.
Not only is it a stretch to say the FGC applies but it is an even bigger stretch to say that it prohibits Jews from settling in the land.
Arguing for greater rights for the Palestinians in Area C is one thing but supporting Palestinian moves in Area C is an entirely different matter. The EU is clearly “taking steps that will change the status of the West Bank” and as such is in violation of the Oslo Accords.