The Central Planning Committee of the Civil Administration will discuss approval of five sets of Palestinian Arab building plans on Tuesday.
The plans have been placed on the agenda by Defense Minister Benny Gantz, who decided to advance Palestinian Arab construction in Area C. The building permits would approve 863 homes in five different villages. According to media reports, Defense Minister Gantz intends to regularly approve Palestinian Authority building plans.
So far, only the names of the villages have been released, while the plans themselves have not. The Ad Kan organization released a report detailing the locations of the plans and the influence of this construction on Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria. Ad Kan emphasizes that these plans were chosen specifically by the Palestinian Authority for approval.
Over the past decade, the PA has submitted 120 building plans, that together represent a clear strategy to form a continuation between areas under PA (Area A and B) through areas under Israeli Control (Area C). The plans will place PA construction right on the border of the separation barrier and will divide central roads to Israeli communities in Judea and Samaria.
In their report, the Ad Kan organization details the plans that will be discussed on Tuesday and the impact of their approval. In Hirvat Zecharia, a collection of Palestinian Arab houses between Alon Shvut and Rosh Tzurim, the plans would approve a much larger village that will encroach on the Jewish communities in Gush Etzion and divide Alon Shvut from Rush Tzurim- an area where many Jewish youth currently play and hike. The plans will enlarge the Arab village by nearly five times.
In Al Matzra, just east of Efrat, the plans would approve Palestinian Arab construction along Route 3157, which connects Central Gush Etzion to Eastern Gush Etzion with the goal of forming continuous construction between regions of Area B just north and south of the road and thereby controlling the roadway. In Bir al-Basha, near Jenin, the building plans would include construction on both sides of Route 60 that would surround a region under Israeli control (Area C) with areas under full PA control. The surrounded area includes Emek Dotan and the nearby Tel Dotan where according to tradition, Joseph was thrown into a pit by his brothers.
In Hirvat Aba, east of Jenin, the plans would approve construction that would connect two regions both under full PA control. In the past, this area included Jewish communities that were uprooted during the Expulsion in 2005. It appears that the plans were intended to prevent any future attempts to rebuild the ruined Jewish communities.
In the village of al-Muskafa, near Tul Karem, the plans would quadruple the size of the village and form continuous PA control between Areas A and B north of Tul Karem. This would also divide a region under Area C and bring areas under PA control right up to the separation fence and the Green Line. Aside from this set of plans, there is also another set of plans that has not yet been approved for a region just west. Those plans would expand the town of Sawicha and create the largest continuous region under full PA control.
The Ad Kan organization’s report notes that over the past decade, the Palestinian Authority has formed 120 sets of plans for construction in villages in Area C, most of which have been submitted to the Civil Administration. According to the PA reports, it has been investing nearly twice the level of funds in Area C as in Areas A and B, even though a majority of the population lives in Areas A and B. Support for these plans has come from many European governments via the UN and is part of international support for the creation of a Palestinian state in all of Judea and Samaria.
European governments have also financially supported illegal Palestinian Arab construction in the areas included in the building plans, in violation of Israeli law. In parallel, the Civil Administration has turned a blind eye to the illegal construction in areas where the plans have not yet been approved. This is in contrast to the case for Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria where enforcement is much stronger.
Representatives from Ad Kan added, “The Palestinian plans are spread out over vast swaths of land and have little connection to the natural growth of the existing villages. The plans represent a strategy under which the PA is attempting to establish facts on the ground that make a Palestinian State inevitable. Since the PA itself is the one who prepared these plans, as opposed to the Civil Administration who did so in the past, decision makers must carefully review the logic of these plans and whether so much land is necessary. They must also consider the impact of these plans on the future of Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria and a potential Palestinian State. Simply approving plans one after another, without considering the overall implications, will lead to a situation that endangers Jewish communities both in and outside of Judea and Samaria.
“Our investigation also reveals that the Palestinian’s have separate building plans that they do not present to the Civil Administration. They are attempting to convince the Civil Administration that these are only limited plans related to specific areas in order to avoid Israeli objections. In practice however, these plans represent further encroachment by the PA in Judea and Samaria onto lands belonging to Jewish communities. Approval of these plans today is part of an overall strategy to expel Jews from Judea and Samaria by forcing them to drive on dangerous roads through Palestinian villages to small communities that are entirely surrounded.”
The Ad Kan representatives concluded with a call on PM Naftali Bennett, Defense Minister Benny Gantz, and other Members of Knesset to, “recognize the irreversible impact of these plans and consider them within an overall understanding of Palestinian encroachment in Area C.”
The head of the Otzma Yehudit Party, MK Itamar Ben Gvir responded to the report, “This evil government, which sits with terror supporters, is supporting Palestinian encroachment on the roads in Area C. These plans will enable terror organizations to control the roadways to Jewish communities and allow Palestinian to take complete control of Area C.”
Ben Gvir added, “The government headed by Naftali Bennett must wake up before it is too late. They must see the full picture and understand the future impact of these plans on the security of the State of Israel.”