The battle for control of Judea and Samaria – and specifically Area C, which, according to the Oslo Accords, is under Israeli military and political control – may come down to a “horse race,” if the European Union decides to act on a policy paper that was published by Hebrew daily Yediot Achronot Thursday. According to the document, "Area C and Palestinian state building," the EU plans to encourage, and fund, Arab building and development in Area C, without bothering to seek Israeli approval for projects, and in violation of laws regarding zoning, security, and the environment.
- Under the Oslo Accords, Judea and Samaria is divided into three areas:
- Area A, which is fully administered by the PA, and which Israelis are banned from even entering – both by Israel and the PA;
- Area B, which is formally under Israeli security control, but is under PA control for all other purposes; and
- Area C, consisting for the most part of the “settlement blocs,” such as Gush Etzion, Ma'aleh Adumim, and the Jewish towns in Samaria in the vicinity of Ariel.
Some 90% of Jewish residents of Judea and Samaria live in Area C, while the PA Arab population of the area is barely 6%.
Nevertheless, the EU document makes it clear the Europeans intends to ensure a future Arab state in Judea and Samaria does not “lose” Area C, in order to ensure territorial contiguity between PA-controlled areas. The best way to do that, the document says, is to create “facts on the ground” - projects by and for PA Arabs, building more homes and communities for them, expanding the territories occupied by Arab towns, and attracting more PA Arabs to live in these new neighborhoods.
The document, in effect, would abrogate the Oslo Accords, forcing a new political reality on Israel, in which the entity that came into existence as a result of the accords simply abandons them.
According to the accords, Israel is the legal administrator of Area C until a final status agreement is completed.
However, the document makes no mention of cooperating with Israel or seeking permits for any of the proposed projects, and the report quoted a Western diplomat as saying that the EU has no intention of seeking such permission. “What Europe is essentially saying here is that because Area C is vital for sustaining a viable Palestinian state, we will support whatever needs to be done for the sale of Palestinian development in the area regardless of Israel's planning policy,” the paper quoted the diplomat as saying.
Israeli law requires that all building in Israel proper or in Area C be conducted with permits, and while authorities are quite vigilant in enforcing the law against Israelis and Jews, they are far more lax when it comes to Arabs. But Jewish residents of Samaria said that the EU initiative would be too much even for Israel to ignore.
“In the end we are going to have no choice but to declare sovereignty, at least on Area C, because if we do not it will end up with the same status as Area A. The EU is forcing on us a decision we should have made a long time ago. The only answer to this initiative is massive building by Israel and the settling of tens of thousands of more Jews in Area C, fulfilling the dictum of former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to grab as much land as possible, before the other side does,” the residents said.