“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.
Aug 16, 2019 0
An Iranian flag flutters in front the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) headquarters in Vienna, Austria, March 4, 2019. Photo: Reuters / Leonhard Foeger / File.
The acting chief of the UN nuclear watchdog policing Iran‘s nuclear deal with major powers, Cornel Feruta, will meet senior Iranian officials in Tehran on Sunday, a spokesman for the International Atomic Energy Agency said on Friday.
“The visit is part of ongoing interactions between the IAEA and Iran,” the spokesman said
The headquarters of the World Zionist Organization (WZO) in Tel Aviv. Photo: Screenshot.
The World Zionist Organization (WZO) on Friday opened a three-day conference in Santiago, the capital of Chile, on the topic of confronting antisemitism in Latin America.
Convened by WZO vice-chair Yaakov Hagoel, the conference will involve 150 Jewish professionals from around the region who will receive briefings from “high-level experts in the field to deal with the growing phenomenon,” the Spanish-language Jewish news outlet Diario Judio reported.
Russian immigrants (new olim) attend an event marking the 25th anniversary of the great Russian aliyah to Israel from the former Soviet Union at the Jerusalem Convention Center on Dec. 24, 2015. Photo: Hadas Parush/Flash90.
JNS.org – For most olim, moving to Israel is the realization of a dream. After years of hoping and planning, making aliyah and taking root in the Jewish state is a joyous and exultant experience. Still, the big move is not without its challenges, and many new immigrants become frustrated while attempting to navigate Israeli bureaucracy, secure a job, and find the right neighborhood to call home.
Taglit-Birthright Israel trip participants visit the Western Wall in the Old City of Jerusalem, Aug. 18, 2014. Photo: Flash90.
JNS.org – “It’s so much more.” That’s the mantra of the 54 Jewish young adults from across North America who just wrapped up 10 weeks in Israel.
Sure, they had applied to the Birthright Israel Excel program for a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to intern at Israeli offices of such top global companies as Facebook, Visa, Microsoft, Ernst & Young (EY), and Barclay’s.
Last week, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s announced that the State Department will consider allowing U.S. citizens born in Jerusalem to list “Jerusalem, Israel” on their U.S. passports.
“We’re constantly evaluating the way we handle what can be listed on passports,” he told JNS in a wide-ranging interview. “It’s something that’s actively being looked at.”
The Palestinian Authority Foreign Ministry responded to this in a statement published in Wafa News saying the move was “an emphasis by the administration of President Donald Trump to antagonize the Palestinian people and undermine any chance for peace on the basis of a two-state solution.”
Sep 08, 2019 0Father Vladimir Tobin (courtesy: screenshot) HALIFAX, Nova Scotia – A Christian Orthodox priest in Nova Scotia was forced to retire after delivering a sermon that honored Judaism and Israel...
If you’re Jewish, how afraid should you be of being a victim of a violent anti-Semitic hate crime? In the wake of the Pittsburgh and Poway synagogue shootings in the last year, many American Jews remain afraid. The specter of white-supremacist hate that fueled those and other mass shootings has become the primary focus of those tasked with fighting and monitoring anti-Semitism.
If the use of Nazi symbolism in fashion was manifested in isolated cases, there would be only slight cause for concern. But when this trend is backed or glossed over by giants such as Amazon, the biggest online sales platform in the world, we cannot remain indifferent. From home decor to clothing and accessories, the popular website is infested with products depicting Holocaust victims heading to the gas chambers and images glorifying the Third Reich.
When the Second Intifada broke out in 2000, Hamas founder Sheikh Ahmed Yassin boasted that the desire of his people for death in the service of Hamas was greater than the Israelis’ desire to live. Yassin, of course, was not referring to himself; happy to send his people off to die, he himself clung to life and even believed that his advanced age and status would protect him. But nothing lasts forever, and in March 2004, he was killed in an Israeli airstrike.
Egypt’s leading authorities have reinstated a notoriously “radical” cleric and hate preacher to the pulpit (minbar), despite strong opposition.
According to Arab Weekly, “The Egyptian Ministry of Religious Endowments, which controls the mosques, gave Yasser Burhami, the deputy head of the Salafist Call, the umbrella organisation of Salafi movements, approval to deliver sermons before Friday prayers at the Wise Caliphs Mosque in Alexandria.”
This week’s Torah reading Shoftim, maps out for us, the ideal national structure, of the Jewish people in their homeland, the Land of Israel. It describes the policies that Jews should be striving to implement today: Malchut/Kingdom, Sanhedrin/Torah, Nevuah/Prophecy, and Kehunah/Temple.