Israel’s so-called “settlement policy” prompted five Western countries to issue a joint statement this week condemning new construction plans in Judea and Samaria.
One could speak of a Pavlovian reaction when it comes to the way in which the international community reacts every time new building plans are announced for Jewish villages and neighborhoods in Judea and Samaria.
Below we will take a look at the statement by the foreign ministers of the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Germany and Italy.
Then we will look at the facts about the largely-illegal Palestinian construction in Area C in Judea and Samaria, and the assistance the Palestinian Arabs receive from the European Union to realize these illegal building projects.
“We – the Foreign Ministers of France, Germany and Italy, the Foreign Secretary of the United Kingdom, and the Secretary of State of the United States – are deeply troubled by the Israeli government’s announcement that it is advancing nearly 10,000 settlement units* and intends to begin a process to normalize nine outposts that were previously deemed illegal under Israeli law. We strongly oppose these unilateral actions which will only serve to exacerbate tensions between Israelis and Palestinians and undermine efforts to achieve a negotiated two-state solution.
“We continue to support a comprehensive, just, and lasting peace in the Middle East, which must be achieved through direct negotiations between the parties. Israelis and Palestinians both deserve to live in peace, with equal measures of freedom, security, and prosperity. We reaffirm our commitment to helping Israelis and Palestinians fulfill the vision of an Israel fully integrated into the Middle East living alongside a sovereign, viable Palestinian state. We continue to closely monitor developments on the ground which impact the viability of the two-state solution and stability in the region at large.”
* Note the language in this statement released by the US State Department. Not “housing units for the Jewish population” but “settlement units.”
The Israeli government has no intention of engaging with this joint statement, as became apparent quickly after it was released.
A few hours following the publication of the joint condemnation, the High Planning Committee of the Civil Administration of the IDF (COGAT) announced that on February 22 it will meet to discuss and advance the new building plans.
The Palestinian Authority (PA) immediately rejected the new Israeli construction plans and decided to call for another emergency session of the United Nations Security Council.
The Council must take action against Israel and send “a clear message” to the government in Jerusalem that its “flagrant violations and disdain for international law” will have consequences, according to Riyad Mansour, the PA ambassador to the UN.
Gilad Erdan, Israel’s ambassador to the UN, in turn, demanded that the Security Council condemn the series of recent terror attacks that claimed the lives of 11 Israeli citizens.
Erdan accused the PA of promoting terror through its so-called “pay to slay” policy, a reference to the PA’s monthly payments to terrorists held in Israeli prisons and to the families of slain terrorists.
However, the Israeli UN ambassador seems to be a voice crying in the wilderness, and would perhaps have done better to send the members of the Security Council a copy of Regavim’s annual review of activities.
Regavim is an Israeli organization dedicated to protecting the territory of the State of Israel, its heritage, and the resources of the Jewish state.
Regavim’s annual overview for 2022
A significant part of the well-documented report dealt with Illegal construction activities by the PA in the so-called Area C in Judea and Samaria.
You might find it hard to believe, but the European Union actually assists the PA in these illegal activities, which are a violation of the so-called “Oslo Accord.”
In June 2022, the EU drew up a concrete plan to ensure that the PA’s grip on the area, which was provisionally assigned to Israel under the previously signed peace agreements, is strengthened.
Almost all Jewish communities in Judea, Samaria and the Benyamin region are located in Area C.
The EU revealed in the secret report written last year that it is helping the PA to add Area C to those regions designated Area A and Area B in Israel’s historical heartland through massive illegal construction projects.
These areas are either wholly (A) or partially (B) under PA administration.
The PA has issued thousands of building permits to Palestinian Arabs living or working in Area C despite the fact that it has no legal authority to do so.
According to provisions in the Oslo Accord, only COGAT has the right to issue building permits.
The IDF organization is constantly accused by the international community of refusing building permits when Arabs are involved.
However, it is an established fact that the Arabs, but also the Bedouins in Israel, do not bother to apply for a building permit when beginning new construction. This is also the case in Arab Jerusalem where entire neighborhoods have been built illegally.
The real annexation
COGAT has been accused by Regavim of inaction in light of these violations of the Oslo Accords and, according to the organization, is obsessed with Jewish illegal construction activities.
Regavim revealed in its annual summary of activities that in the period from April 2021 to April 2022, Palestinian Arabs constructed a staggering total of 5,535 illegal structures in Area C.
There were a total of 181,317 illegal Arab structures in the area under COGAT administration in April 2022.
When it comes to the true annexation of what is commonly referred to as the West Bank, it is the PA that is guilty of large-scale annexation.
From April 2021 to April 2022, the PA annexed nearly 657 acres of land in Judea and Samaria, versus Israel’s nearly 84 acres.
At the end of 2022, the Jewish community in Area C numbered just over half a million souls living on a territory of 6,185 hectares, whereas the 230,000 Palestinian Arabs in Area C live on 1,072 hectares, according to the Regavim research team.
There is much more to say about the illegal Palestinian activities that take place in Area C.
The PA electricity company (JDEC), which is registered in Israel, and therefore falls under Israeli law, supplies free electricity to the thousands of illegal structures in Area C, Regavim researchers discovered.
The PA-controlled company has now built up a sky-high debt to the Israeli electricity company, so high that the government in Jerusalem decided to cancel part of it last year.
The PA was also caught illegally building a new city near the Jewish village Karnei Shomron in Samaria.
The land on which the city was built belonged to the Jewish Israeli Moshe Zar, and, also in this case, Regavim filed a complaint with GOGAT demanding that there be one law for both Arabs and Jews.
After all, the civilian governing body of the IDF is known for cracking down on Jews who build illegally, while at the same time COGAT is reluctant to act against the PA’s illegal practices because it could lead to more violence and foreign pressure.
Foreign interference in construction and other practices in Judea and Samaria has made almost every Israeli government wary of cracking down on illegal construction and other illegal activities by the Palestinian Arabs.
It became apparent shortly after the recent visit of US Secretary of State Antony Blinken that this would also be true of the current Netanyahu government. The top US diplomat was among those who signed the anti-Israel statement earlier this week.
The Israeli government has already seven times disobeyed a Supreme Court order to evict an illegally-built village in the hills of the Judean Desert outside Jerusalem.
The village, Khan al-Ahmar, was most recently scheduled to be evacuated shortly after Blinken’s visit, but Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu again asked the Supreme Court for an extension.
Khan al-Ahmar was built illegally by local Bedouins and is a favorite destination for foreign diplomats who oppose Israel’s presence and authority in Judea and Samaria.
It is widely believed that Netanyahu gave in to pressure from Blinken and other European diplomats who visited Khan al-Ahmar just before the Israeli leader again postponed its removal.
This now is the real state of affairs in Blinken’s envisioned “sovereign viable Palestinian state.”
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