Israel to Retroactively Legalize Palestinian Construction in Area C of West Bank

Move is part of broader plan to improve Palestinians' quality of life in the West Bank, in order to lessen diplomatic pressure on Israel; issue of releasing Palestinian prisoners will be discussed after President Obama's visit.

Chaim Levinson
Chaim Levinson
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Chaim Levinson
Chaim Levinson

Israel will prepare a master plan for Area C of the West Bank, in order to retroactively legalize Palestinian construction which it currently considers illegal.

The Civil Administration, the Israeli body responsible for governance over civilian matters in the West Bank, has budgeted NIS 3 million for preparation of the plan.

Under the Oslo Accords, Israel has full civilian and military control over Area C, which includes many Jewish settlements as well as Palestinian villages.

The move is part of a broader plan to invest approximately NIS 20 million in various projects meant to improve the quality of life in the West Bank, as part of a series of gestures toward the Palestinians designed to lessen the diplomatic pressure on Israel.

The project, however, is politically sensitive in light of Israel's new coalition government, as right-wing parties view Area C as a primary area of struggle against the Palestinian Authority. Habayit Hayehudi chairman Naftali Bennett, for example, has proposed annexing Area C.

Civil Administration documents show that NIS 3.5 million has been invested in the preparation of a new access route from north to west Ramallah, near Birzeit, past Route 60, the main road in the West Bank.

NIS 2.36 million was invested in an access road to the Allenby Bridge, which serves as the Palestinians' only exit from the territories and NIS 1 million was spent to organize infrastructure around the Civil Administration building in Beit El where Palestinians and Israelis receive various services.

Additionally, NIS 2.5 million is invested in preparing a sidewalk for a school in the village of Luban al-Sharkia, located on Route 60, where there is a lot of Palestinian traffic. Another NIS 1.1 million will be invested in electrical lines and water supplies to villages in the Jenin area and the south Hebron Hills.

Hundreds of thousands more shekels will be invested in archaeological salvage operations in areas where the Palestinians put in requests to develop infrastructure projects. NIS 1 million was invested in a waste collection site near Tulkarm, and NIS 230,000 in cleaning streams.

The progress of the rest of the issues serving as gestures to the Palestinian Authority is unclear. The issue of prisoner releases will be discussed after U.S. President Barack Obama's visit, as well as the matter of transferring additional weapons to the Palestinian Authority. Another plan to transfer land near Ramallah and Tulkarm from Israel to Palestinian Authority control is still under discussion.

Palestinian children play in a village south of Hebron.Credit: Alex Levac

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