Kobi Eliraz, a former adviser to multiple defense ministers on settlement issues, is very concerned about the Palestinian Authority takeover of Area C and the government's indifference towards it.
"While Areas A and B were given to the Palestinians in the Oslo Accords, Area C is our responsibility. In practice, the Palestinians, in a systematic way and especially in the last decade with the help of funding and budgeting from all over the world, have set for themselves the goal of taking over these territories. Israel is quite indifferent to this situation," Elirza says in an interview at Arutz Sheva's Jerusalem station.
He says, "The Israeli governments in the last decade - and most of them were headed by Benjamin Netanyahu - have not done much. I expected Naftali Bennett, the former defense minister, to have a different approach to the issue. He even appointed me in charge of dealing with [the PA's] takeover of Area C and I wrote an in-depth document on the issues, how to stop the unilateral deterioration and possible solutions." I gave it to Naftali Bennett, who once criticized Benjamin Netanyahu for not doing anything, but at the moment this issue is not a priority for the government."
Eliraz criticizes the government's conduct on the issue of settlements. "I saw the way the housing units were approved for Israelis and Palestinians and it was not done very professionally, to say the least. Unfortunately at the moment the Prime Minister's Office does not have a figure, adviser, or trusted person on this issue. Other suitable people are graduates of the systems who are familiar with the issue have not received a serious response to the situation, nor have I."
"It should be understood that if in the Trump plan, which was enough to reflect the situation, it was written that 60% of Area C would be in our hands and 40% in their hands. The situation is already the opposite today. Trump gave us 30% with 15 enclaves created in the last 20 years. If we continue with the current situation, we will incur dozens more enclaves in a plan that another government will plan in a few years' time," Eliraz declares.
How can the situation be resolved? "Effective enforcement must be realized by legal means, a staff in the Civil Administration must be budgeted for effectiveness so that it will be of interest to the Minister and he will monitor it."
The building permits for Palestinian Arabs given by the government are a lesser problem in his opinion. "The thousand housing units for Palestinians are less disturbing. I think there is room for Palestinians to have approved plans in Area C because they are also increasing. Certainly appropriate criteria need to be set that will define their plans, and assuming they are met we are right to approve them, because it is beneficial for us. When we come to the Supreme Court and demand the demolition of a Palestinian house, we are asked how many plans we approved for them - and then we are told - when you approve plans, then you will also be allowed to demolish [illegal homes]."
But the defense minister's conduct is very worrying to Eliraz. "Benny Gantz goes to Abu Mazen and talks to him about benefits for the Palestinian. I have not heard that this move is conditional on the cessation of the takeover funded and led by Abu Mazen himself in Area C."