“Area C,” which comprises some 60 percent of the West Bank, also known as Judea and Samaria, is making news these days. This time, the hot button issue is illegal Palestinian settlements sprouting across the region, shredding the last vestige of the Oslo Accords, which, for a generation, propelled the “two-state solution.”
Most observers of the Israeli-Palestinian crisis are accustomed to hearing talk of “illegal Jewish settlements” on slivers of land comprising one to two percent of the West Bank, mostly near the green line of Israel proper. But, attention now focuses on an explosion of thousands of illegal Palestinian constructions: village clusters, agricultural tracts, water networks, roads, and general infrastructure crisscrossing Area C of the West Bank. All of this violates the 1993 and 1995 Oslo Accords, which specify full Israeli administrative control in Area C. Under the international agreement, only the Israeli Civil Administration can authorize new construction in the zone—for Israeli and Arab alike. However, continuous waves of recent Palestinian settlements are being established without permits—often without even bothering to apply. One senior official of the Israeli security apparatus called it “the wild west.”
According to Israeli activist watchdog groups, such as Regavim, in the past half-decade, illegal Palestinian settlements and infrastructure have sprawled across more than 9,000 dunams in more than 250 Area C locations, supported by more than 600 kilometers of illegally constructed access roads and more than 112,000 meters of retaining walls and terracing. This massive works project is being conducted in broad daylight, often heralded by tall announcement placards and proud press releases.
When questioned, various Israeli government officials did not dispute the Regavim numbers. In exasperation, one military spokesman close to the Area C files located at Bet El estimated “close to 10,000” illegal construction efforts are now underway—adding they felt “powerless to stop them.” The rapid build-up is funded by hundreds of millions of euros annually, funneled by the European Union and individual European nations into scores of building and infrastructure projects.
Understanding the tortuous history that created the current sovereignty vacuum in Area C can be daunting and confusing.
Leaving out 99 percent of everything … the indigenous Israelites of Canaan were expelled starting in 70 C.E. by the Romans, who renamed the region “Syria-Palaestina”—or Palestine,for the Philistine sea invaders from the Greek Islands. In about 637 C.E., the Islamic invasion swept up from the Arabian Peninsula to conquer and convert. For about four centuries, the Turkish Ottoman Empire governed until its 1918 defeat in World War I. After WWI, the Allies dismembered Ottoman colonies throughout the Middle East and concomitantly encouraged self-determination for ethnic peoples across the Levant. The League of Nations, in association with 51 countries and competing nationalist groups, eventually established five modern Arab countries: Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, modern Hejaz (Arabia) and post-colonial modern Egypt, plus one democratic and pluralistic Jewish State in Palestine. The original 1920 “Mandate” boundaries of the modern Jewish State extended from the Mediterranean Sea across the area now known as Jordan—a country which then did not exist.
The Arabs were shortchanged by the French in their quest for an Arab Kingdom in Syria. So, in recompense, the British modified the Palestine Mandate in September 1922 by virtue of an official memorandum, carving off some 70 percent of the intended Jewish nation to invent Trans-Jordan (now Jordan)—the territory extended from the Jordan River east to the borders of Iraq and what is now Saudi Arabia. For decades, co-existence between Arabs and Jews in the former Turkish colony could not be achieved. In 1947, the non-binding UN Resolution 181—known as Partition—recommended side-by-side Jewish and Arab states. In those days, the identity of the two peoples was “Arab” and “Jewish,” as local Arabs did not adopt the identity of “Palestinian” until about 1964.
Israel accepted Partition, but the Arabs refused. The surrounding League-created Arab nations attacked the newly declared Jewish State. In 1948, Jordan (created by the British memo) illegally invaded and annexed the area west of the Jordan River, including East Jerusalem, thus coining the new term, “West Bank” for the still-disputed former Turkish colonial provinces.
In 1967, when Israel fought its preemptive Six Day War, expelling Jordan, the Jewish State occupied this same disputed former Turkish colonial region, still called the West Bank. In 1988,Jordan rescinded any claim of sovereignty, deepening the sovereignty vacuum.
In 1993 and 1995, after years of diplomatic wrangling, Israel and the avowed terror group Palestine Liberation Organization signed the Oslo Accords, envisioning a peaceful two-state solution. Under the complex Oslo Accords, and subsequent modifications at Wye, Sharm el-Sheikh, and elsewhere, the “West Bank” is divided into three separate administrative zones, Areas A, B and C.
Area A is reserved for Palestinian civil and administrative control and seats the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah. Area B is governed by Palestinian civil control under a joint Israeli-Palestinian security apparatus.
Area C —also called Judea and Samaria—comprises roughly 60 percent of the West Bank. It more closely resembles the Biblical and original international demarcation of a Jewish State during the initial League of Nations mandate—but is now considered occupied by the international community. The majority of Area C residents are Israelis—an estimated 325,000 alongside some 300,000 Arabs. In essence, Oslo normalized and structured the Israeli occupation and administration of the disputed former Turkish lands.
But by virtue of a cumulative multibillion-euro effort, European capitals are working hard to destabilize the last pillars of the Oslo Accords. Thus, these countries seek to create a Palestinian state along the 1948 armistice line — also known as the 1967 lines— without further consulting the Jewish State. This ensures the Palestinian Authority knows it need not negotiate with Jerusalem—even as the United States and Gulf countries make a daring dash to achieve peace.
As the urgency of Area C is becoming clearer, still murky is the source of the diverse European funding that enables this conflict and the routes those billions of euros take across the Mediterranean. What’s more, there is widespread fear that millions in funds are continuously funneled through entities openly accused of being affiliated with established terrorist organizations.
A 2018 demonstration against antisemitism in Berlin. Photo: Reuters / Fabrizio Bensch.
A slight drop in the number of antisemitic incidents in Berlin during the first half of this year is no excuse for complacency, the city’s antisemitism commissioner emphasized on Thursday following the publication of statistics for hate crimes targeting Jews in the German capital from January-June 2019.
“Antisemitism remains a serious problem that we cannot tolerate in Berlin,” Lorenz Korgel — the city’s commissioner for combating antisemitism — told local news outlet Berliner Morgenpost. “The number of antisemitic incidents remains at a high level. ”
People wear kippas at a demonstration in front of a Jewish synagogue denouncing an antisemitic attack on a young man wearing a kippa, in Berlin, Germany, April 25, 2018. (photo credit: FABRIZIO BENSCH / REUTERS)
The population of the State of Israel has increased 2.1% since last year, according to a report released in time for Rosh Hashanah by the Central Bureau of Statistics.
Today, there are 9.1 million citizens of Israel, of which some 6.7 million (74%) are Jewish, the report shows. The country’s citizens also include 1.9 million Arabs (21%) and 0.4% of “others,” including Christians and those of other minority groups.
A women holds up a sign against anti-Semitism at a rally in New York City on Sept. 22, 2019. Photo: Rhonda Hodas Hack.
JNS.org – Hundreds of demonstrators rallied in front of City Hall in New York on Sunday, calling on New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and other municipal leaders, as well as those on the national level, to act against antisemitism and the wave of antisemitic hate crimes taking place against the Orthodox Jewish community.
The beach in Tel Aviv, Israel, May 17, 2019. Photo: Reuters / Ammar Awad.
On the eve of the holiday of Rosh Hashanah, ushering in the Jewish year of 5780, Israel’s Central Bureau of Statistics released its traditional end-of-the-year findings.
Israel’s population now stands at 9.092 million people — 6.744 million (74.2 percent) of whom are Jews, with 1.907 million (21 percent) Arabs and 441,000 (4.8 percent) listed as “other.”
Drew Seigla and Stephanie Lynne Mason. Photo: Instagram.
Drew Seigla and Stephanie Lynne Mason play Pertshik and Hodl, whose love story takes them all the way to Siberia in the award-winning show by the National Yiddish Theatre.
Oct 25, 2019 0People arrive at a polling station to vote in the federal election in Beauce, Quebec, Canada, Oct. 21, 2019. Photo: Reuters / Mathieu Belanger. A top Jewish advocacy group said on Friday it...
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“There is nothing more deceptive than an obvious fact.” — Sherlock Holmes, The Boscombe Valley Mystery
“Israel must, in the most blunt and clear way possible, illustrate to Washington that the prosperity of Jordan is a first-rate Israeli security and strategic interest.” — Former head of Mossad Ephraim Halevy at “Between Jerusalem and Amman: 25 Years Since the Signing of the Peace Agreement Between Israel and the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan,” Institute for National Security Studies, Sept. 25, 2019.
A thought came to mind the other day.
For all the bluster about Judaism and anti-Semitism in America, I am not convinced that far-out-left and liberal young Jews, who have been very strident and even threatening on Israel-related issues and local American political battles, have done much on the ground to confront and quash, one way or another, attacks on Jews. They have portrayed themselves as gliding along a moral highway but have permitted immoral actions to exist quite close to home, far from Gaza (did any of them recite a public Kaddish in the town square for murdered and injured Jews, or their damaged and desecrated property)?
One of the hallmark features of Yom Kippur are the communal sins which we need to repent for. Most Jews focus on what we have done personally towards G-d and towards others. Little thought is given to how we could be better as a community. Or the sins we bear as a community.
However, the communal recitation of the Al Chet, repeated over and over on Yom Kippur is to drive the point home that we are responsible for one another
Incoming freshman Member of Knesset from the leftist, Democratic Union list, Yair Golan, did it again. Golan’s constant delegitimization of his political opponents on the right, smacks of the same delegitimization that tyrants, dictators, demagogues and assorted totalitarians always use, just before the Putsch.
In that regard, he’s right when he said recently, “I’m reminding people that the Nazis came to power democratically, so we have to be careful, very careful, so that radicals with a messianic view won’t exploit Israeli democracy to replace the system of government.” Think “
As Israeli frustration mounts about violence coming out of Gaza, the idea of a ground invasion, and once and for all to finish with Hamas aggression, becomes more appealing. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has endorsed this approach, saying, “There probably won’t be a choice but to topple the Hamas regime.” While sympathetic to this impulse, I worry that too much attention is paid to tactics and not enough to goals. The result could be harmful to Israel.