The illegal “building intifada” being waged by the Palestinian Authority on
state lands in Area C of Judea and Samaria, (the West Bank), has become the
latest battleground for the radical Left in conjunction with foreign-funded
Israeli socalled human rights NGO’s such as B’tselem and Bimkom.
unlawful land theft is being carried out with the full support of the EU,
foreign aid organizations and the UN.
Under the Oslo Accords, Israel was
allocated full administrative and security control over Area
C. Allocation of final sovereignty in Area C was to be determined in
negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority under the Oslo Accords
and the Bush Roadmap of 2002.
Instead, Palestinian Authority Prime
Minister Salaam Fayyad has sought to unilaterally extend the PA’s control over
undeveloped state lands within Area C in an attempt to pre-empt the outcome of
any such negotiations, or in the more likely scenario, do away with the need for
Fayyad made his intentions very clear in an interview in
the Arab daily Al-Sharq al-Awsat on September 1, 2009: “Many think that zone ‘C’
areas have become disputed territories rather than occupied territories in the
public consciousness. We assert that these are Palestinian National
Authority territories where the state will be established.”
this objective, the construction of thousands of illegal Arab structures has
gathered pace all over Area C as the PA pursues this policy of encouraging
illegal land grabs, illegal outposts and building on state lands.
activity is very evident in the South Hebron Hills, in the area near the ancient
Jewish town of Sussiya.
Arab shepherds from the nearby town of Yata, a
Palestinian Arab city of 80,000 in Area A, have created a new village there
called Khirbet Sussiya.
They claim that their families have lived on this
land for decades, if not centuries. Their struggle has become the cause célèbre
of the cadre of foreigners and locals wishing to harm Israel and its standing
worldwide through misrepresentations and outright lies.
IN TRUTH, this is
just a matter of squatters illegally trying to grab state lands. These illegal
squatters will always be portrayed as helpless, weak and vulnerable, but they
are nothing of the sort. They all have alternate, permanent homes in Yata and
are encouraged by the PA to grab land.
The area occupied by the squatters
has been state land since the days of the Ottoman Empire. It has only ever
served as grazing land and the caves found there have only ever been used for
temporary dwelling by the shepherds for two weeks to a month a year during the
Aerial photo archives prove that the squatters have not
lived there – or anywhere in the environs of Sussiya – for decades.
squatters also falsely claim they have been forced to build illegally because of
the limited number of building permits approved by the Civil Administration
(CA). In fact, the CA has approved over 100 new town plans for Area C in the
past 10 years. A good example of these new town plans is a village only five
kilometers north of Sussiya, called Khirbet Tawani.
Palestinian Arabs have no interest in applying for building permits anywhere in
Area C, as this would be seen as accepting Israel’s authority.
applications to the CA are only lodged in areas where it is known that the CA
will not approve them, thus skewing the number of building refusals and giving
rise to the false claim that the Arabs cannot get building approvals in Area C,
as in the much-bandied 94% statement used by Israel’s
Micro-comparisons are continuously being made in articles and
letters in the media contrasting the Palestinians living in their tents and tin
sheds in Khibet Sussiya with the red roofs and “European villas” the Jews have
in Sussiya to support false claims of racism, discrimination and colonialism (as
if using the term “European villa” some how proved this).
visiting the area (or for that matter any competent Google Earth user) can
readily see the impressive Arab homes (some even with red roofs) in and around
Hebron and throughout the South Hebron hills.
Alleged Discrimination with
regard to the sharing of water in Area C is another issue constantly raised by
Israel’s detractors and pro-Palestinian NGO’s.
First, the squatters
complain that their illegal structures are not connected to the water system.
They then bring in water tanks (supplied by the PA) at a cost of over NIS 30
shekels per cubic meter of water – compared to the NIS 5 per cubic meter paid by
Israelis and legal residents of Area C.
Of course, they don’t care to
raise the fact that the PA is buying this water from Israel at NIS 2.5 per cubic
meter – so either someone is making a huge mark-up at the squatters’ expense, or
someone is manipulating the figures to again make Israel look bad.
you will never hear is that the village of Khirbet Sussiya has been the subject
of many rulings by Israel’s High Court of Justice, including the latest one
against the squatters on the June, 7, 2012, when the Court upheld Regavim’s
claims that these Palestinian Arabs have been living and building illegally on
In this case, suddenly it seems it’s OK if Israel’s Supreme
Court rulings are ignored.
So why are NGOs, foreign governments and aid
donors pouring millions of dollars into Khirbet Sussiya? Why are they funding
the illegal building of structures by transient shepherds who have been found to
be squatters and ordered by the Supreme Court to move?
So-called Rabbis For
Human Rights provides an answer very similar to that of Prime Minister Fayyad:
“At first blush, it may seem that this is ‘only’ about the threat to demolish
the entire village of Sussiya, the homes of these simple cave dwellers of the
South Hebron Hills. However, the truth is that the results will affect the fate
of hundreds of Palestinian homes throughout the Occupied Territories, perhaps
thousands. The outcome may well have an effect on our major appeal to return
planning authority for Palestinian communities in Area C to Palestinian
SO THERE you have it: proof of a concerted effort to overturn the
Oslo Accords, ignore Supreme Court rulings and force the Israeli government to
passively cede authority of Area C, acre by acre, to the PA.
such land theft has consequences – and the Courts are increasingly concurring
with Regavim's submissions and ruling to have such activity declared illegal and
the structures built without any approval demolished.
Those choosing to
pit themselves against the law can hardly complain when the law acts to curb
The writer works for Regavim, an independent professional
research institute and private planning think tank.