New PA Tactic: Economic Takeover of Jewish Areas

The Palestinian Authority adopts a new economic tactic to challenge Israeli authority over Jewish areas in Judea and Samaria

Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu ,

The Jewish town of Tekoa in eastern Gush Etzi
The Jewish town of Tekoa in eastern Gush Etzi
Israel news photo: Flash 90

The Palestinian Authority is embarking on a new economic tactic to challenge Israeli authority over Jewish areas in Judea and Samaria, commonly known as “Area C” and which includes most of the land area in Judea and Samaria.

The PA told the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee in Brussels last week that it is asking donors to earmark money for development in Area C, the Bethlehem-based Ma'an news agency reported Monday.

Palestinians "cannot simply wait for the conclusion of peace negotiations to reverse this de-development and destruction of livelihoods by the Israeli occupation," the report says, referring to Israeli authority over the land restored to Israel in the Six-Day War in 1967.

Most of the same area had been occupied by Jordan since the United Nations drew the temporary Armistice Lines at the end of the War for Independence. Gaza, under Egyptian rule, and Judea and Samaria suffered from neglect and lack of growth until the end of the Six-Day War marked the opening up of the areas for economic growth and tourism.

The period of the Intifadas, which began in the last 1980s, stifled the growth. The PA called on donors to "employ all tools at their disposal at the diplomatic level to enable development beyond 'Area A' and 'Area B'” that were designated in the Oslo Accords. Israel has ceded most of it authority in the areas.

The Palestinian Authority report proposes prompting tourism, as part of its effort to claim Muslim ties to Jewish sites. It already has said it will ask the United Nations UNESCO agency, where it was accepted as a member late last year, to declare the Dead Sea area and the Patriarchs' Cave in  Hevron as “Palestinian heritage sites.”

Developing economic  projects in Area C would advance European Union-funded efforts to settle Arabs in areas adjacent to Jewish communities and giving the PA de facto control.

However, the PA is suffering from lack of funds due to Arab nations refusing to honor pledges. The economic slowdown in Europe also has threatened the Palestinian Authority’s ability to function. In its presentation to the Ad Hoc Committee, Israel noted that the PA’s economic ailments do not allow it to become a stable independent entity.