Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad slammed Israel on Wednesday over its plan to move residents of 12 shepherd nomad communities south of Hevron to make way for army training zones.
Reuters reported that Fayyad said the Israeli plan is “a move to depopulate Palestinian areas.”
Israel has designated the area as a closed military zone and asked for Supreme Court approval to move the residents to the nearby village of Yatta, where the Defense Ministry says many of them have permanent homes.
The villagers, however, claim Israel wants to eject them from the area in order to clear a path for the expansion of nearby Jewish communities.
“This measure is aimed at evacuating the Palestinians from their land,” Fayyad was quoted by Reuters as having said while visiting a partially demolished mosque in one of the communities. “There is no other explanation.”
Fayyad visited the community of Al-Mufaqara, where he was quoted as having said that Israeli settlement expansion and forced evictions of PA Arabs had undermined the viability of reaching a peaceful solution with Israel and the establishment of an independent Palestinian state.
“As a matter of principle, this is not Israeli land. If they want to practice military training, they should go elsewhere,” he said.
Reuters noted that an EU mission also visited Al-Mufaqara on Wednesday and issued a statement later protesting at what it called a planned “forced transfer of ... people contrary to Israel's obligations as the Occupying Power.”
“The designation of the area as a live firing zone would thus reduce further the opportunities for Palestinian communities to live and work in Area C and ... any potential of economic and social development for the Palestinians in this area of the occupied Palestinian territory,” the mission’s statement said.
They did not note the boycotts of Judea and Samaria products which would reduced even further the opportunities for PA communities to survive, given the perilous state of the PA economy.
Fayyad charged in a recent interview that “the cause of the Palestinians” has never been more marginalized than it is today.
Speaking to the British daily The Independent, Fayyad was strongly critical of the West’s failure to tackle Israel more “seriously” over what he termed its “violations of international law.”
Fayyad declared that this “marginalization” was now the “biggest obstacle” to progress towards a Palestinian state.
He also accused the Israeli Defense Ministry of “trying essentially to take out of existence eight hamlets in southern Hevron under a pretext that you think would be viewed as completely outrageous. The army is running out of space for military training and so you displace an entire population… Telling you that these people have homes in Yatta. That is incredibly outrageous.”
In the past, Fayyad has inaugurated PA construction projects, ignoring the fact that they are located in Area C, which is under full Israeli control.