This Friday's edition of the Hebrew newspaper Makor Rishon features an interview with Ronen
Peretz, who served Binyamin Netanyahu as the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) Acting Director General.
While the interview features many column inches of Peretz praising his former boss for accomplishments that benefited Israel, buried towards the end of the text is a different sort of exchange which points to a far-reaching failure of the previous government:
Peretz:.The war today is much larger than Khan al Ahmar (AL: an illegal village whose demolition the Supreme Court approved) and it is a war which to my despair we are losing. The significant matter is Area C, and we are not doing anything there.
Reporter: The claims in this matter should be directed towards the person who served at the head for the last 12 years (AL: Binyamin Netanyahu).
Peretz: I can tell you what I tried to do from my position...I asked more than once in meetings with the Civil Administration that they say what the desired principles were from their standpoint. It was a process that did not develop. In contrast to us, the Palestinians are working in Area C in an organized fashion. They have learned a method and if we do not stop it we will face a reality of Palestinian constructionwhich will prevent any future arrangement which we can accept.
This profound failure of Netanyahu's government to stop the Civil Administration in Judea and Samaria from allowing this illegal Arab bulding to run rampant is far more important than the number of housing units which received final building permits in Judea and Samaria over the course of Netanyahu's 12 years.
That's because, for all their importance, while a Jewish housing unit not built today can be built tomorrow, illegal Palestinian construction carried out today and not removed can have permanent negative consequences.
This illegal construction is strategically designed to both choke off existing Jewish communities and grab land reserves which could be used for future Jewish communities.
With everything, including the Corona outbreak, on Prime Minister Naftali Bennett's plate, and considering the composition of his coalition government, it is not clear to me how many building permits he can get Defense Minister Gantz to approve.
But the illegal Palestinian construction in Area C may be something else.
Netanyahu's 12 year total lack of action in Area C is no excuse for failure today.
The law is squarely on the side of action rather than complacence.
No. I am not claiming that it will be easy. But I firmly believe that if Naftali Bennett sets his mind to it that he will find a way, despite the composition of his ruling coalition, to stop the illegal Palestinian
construction in Area C, funded in the main by the EU.
And if he does succeed, the fact that a government which includes Meretz and an Arab party is acting against illegal Arab construction in Area C may turn out to be easier to "sell" among some circles overseas than if the same action had been taken by a right wing government.
To quote a BESA article by Edwin Black written back in 2009:
"Area C, which makes up about 60% of the biblical lands of Judea and Samaria (also known as the 'West Bank' since their illegal1950 occupation by Jordan,and over which area the Oslo Accords granted sole Israeli juridiction, so that all Jewish communities are located there while only 4% of the 'West Bank' Arab population lives there, ed.), is making news these days. This time, the hot button issue is the illegal Palestinian Arab settlements that are sprouting up across the region. These settlements shred the last scraps that remain of the Oslo Accords, which propelled the idea of the “two-state solution” for a generation.
The funding for these illegal Palestinian Arab settlements, which amounts to hundreds of millions of euros annually, comes from the EU. According to the Oslo Accords, only Israel can issue construction permits in Area C. In joining forces to promote the rapid expansion of illegal Palestinian settlement in Area C, the EU and the PA have dispensed entirely with any coordination with Israel, in direct contravention of the Accords."
Dr. Aaron Lerner and his late father Dr. Joseph Lerner founded the Independent Media Review and Analysis (IMRA) government accredited news organization in 1992,which provides an ongoing analysis of developments in Arab-Israeli relations.