MK Mordechai Yogev (Hadas Parush/Flash90) (Hadas Parush/Flash90)
Mordechai Yogev

A Knesset subcommittee for Judea and Samaria addressed the “strategic threat” posed by the Palestinian attempt to seize Israeli territory.

By: United with Israel Staff

The Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Subcommittee for Judea and Samaria convened to discuss what it referred to as the Palestinian Authority’s (PA) “strategic takeover of land in Area C.”

Area C comprises approximately 60 percent of the Judea and Samaria region that remained under full Israeli control as part of Oslo interim peace accords.

Israel seeks to keep large chunks of the area, which is home to close to 500,000 Israelis, under any final agreement. Education Minister Naftali Bennett and other Israeli leaders have called to annex the area.

According to the interim peace accords, any construction in Area C requires permission from Israel.

A move by the PA to seize Israeli land is an attempt to change facts on the ground and nefariously influence the outcome of peace negotiations.

During the meeting, Member of Knesset Mordechai Yogev, the committee chairman, said that since 2008-2009, the PA “has been attempting to seize all of Area C, according to what was previously known as the ‘Fayyad Plan.’”

The Fayyad Plan, named after its promoter, former Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, was published in August 2009. It envisioned the establishment of a de facto Palestinian state by August 2011 through the creation of new, and the improvement of existing, government institutions and the reinforcement of the economic, social and security foundations of the PA.

“The territorial takeover of lands in Area C is part of the strategic outlook of the PA, which has even set up an official office to coordinate its activities in Area C,” Yogev told the committee. “At the same time, the subcommittee is under the impression that our government elements have not been properly monitoring this issue, and there is no organized activity to stop this phenomenon.”

Yogev urged the minister of defense to intervene.

Meir Deutsch and Yishai Heno of Regavim, a research-based legal advocacy NGO dedicated to ensuring accountable use of Israel’s national land, called the PA’s activity in Area C a “strategic threat.”

Since 2009, they explained, 42 million euros have been transferred to the Union of Agricultural Work Committees, a non-profit organization that was established in 1986 to improve the performance and professionalism of Palestinian farmers. Deutsch and Hemo exposed the UAWC’s involvement in leading the PA’s activities in Area C.

A ‘Strategic Diplomatic Decision’ is Needed

MK Bezalel Smotrich, former head of Regavim, said that “we are aware of the systematic strategic activity that has been taking place for years. Nothing will change until a strategic diplomatic decision is made to stop the takeover.”

Kobi Eliraz, a senior aide to Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman, said the security establishment is “familiar with the attempt to take over lands, which is directed by the Palestinian Authority. The minister has placed it on the agenda, and operational, legal and administrative measures are being taken against it. There is an organized work plan, including the setting of goals, but we will not talk about the specifics, not even in a closed forum.”

Col. Uri Mendes, deputy head of the IDF’s Civil Administration, said it holds monthly meetings on illegal Palestinian construction. He noted that since 2018 there have been 128 cases in which Israel has seized equipment from the Palestinians.

He told the subcommittee that his staff identifies and hands out injunctions for illegal Palestinian building.

“There is almost no illegal construction or land infiltration that is not recognized,” Mendes said.