The Israeli cabinet's decision to approve construction permits for Palestinians in the West Bank is part of a policy shift intended to push out the Palestinian Authority's involvement in planning and construction in the territories, sources familiar with the details told Haaretz.
The cabinet's decision is concurrent with mounting legal and international criticism of Israel's policy, according to which Israel demolishes Palestinian buildings and neighborhoods in Area C while preventing any natural growth for its residents.
Transportation Minister and Union of Right-Wing Parties MK Bezalel Smotrich confirmed that the move is part of a plan to extend Israeli sovereignty in the West Bank. In a Facebook post, he wrote that the central goal of his political career is "to prevent the establishment of an Arab terror state in the heart of Israel, to protect all of our Land of Israel and develop settlement and sovereignty in all its spaces."
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After criticizing 10 years of Israeli "abandonment and lawlessness" and Palestinian building in Area C, Smotrich wrote, "Now, finally, thank God, comes the twist in the Israeli government's approach to the spread of the terrorist cancer within us … Israel is forming a strategic plan to stop the creation of a Palestinian state inside the country."
According to Smotrich, Israel's strategic plan includes forbidding Palestinians who have moved to towns and villages designated Area C after the 1994 Oslo Accords to build in the area, and "original residents" may only build in places "that do not harm settlements and Israel's security and would not create [Palestinian] continuity or create a situation of a de facto Palestinian state." He added that these locations would serve the "strategic interests of the state of Israel" and not the "national interests of Arabs."
He said that Israel is creating a "toolbox" for "enforcement and forceful neutralization of the Palestinian takeover plan."