Lawmakers call for a report on Palestinian police activity in Area C

MK Bezalel Smotrich (Bayit Yehudi) said the Oslo Accords barred Palestinian police from operating in Area C of the West Bank.

August 17, 2016 00:59
2 minute read.
A Palestinian man sits on a rock at Jordan Valley near the West Bank city of Jericho

A Palestinian man sits on a rock at Jordan Valley near the West Bank city of Jericho. (photo credit: REUTERS)


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Parliamentarians have called for the IDF to issue a report on its decision to allow Palestinian security forces to operate in Area C of the West Bank on August 10. Under the Olso Accords, such forces are prohibited from operating in the area.

The incident that raised alarm over jurisdictional issues occurred on the morning of August 10. Palestinian security forces intervened during a protest from residents of Rammun village, eventually firing live ammunition into the air to break it up. The residents were upset about the sudden renewed construction of a landfill near the Rimonim Junction outside of Ramallah. The landfill has raised controversy among both the settler and Palestinian communities.

Right-wing parliamentarians have taken issue with the building of the German-funded landfill in Area C, which is designed to service only Palestinians. They also expressed concerns about the idea of Palestinian security forces operating in a region of the West Bank under Israeli military and civilian control.

“The Rimonim landfill was born in sin, the continuation of which was the shooting incident,” Bayit Yehudi MK Moti Yogev said.

Yogev heads the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee subgroup on Judea and Samaria, which held an urgent meeting on the matter Monday. It issued a call for a report from the head of Central Command, Maj.-Gen. Roni Numa.

“What is needed is a general solution for everyone, rather than a one-sided option,” Yogev said.

The landfill is designed to service 320,000 inhabitants of the Ramallah/ al-Bireh area who generate about 300 tons of trash daily.

In the absence of an adequate trash solution, Palestinians are using some 78 private trash sites that pollute the environment and endanger the groundwater.

But the project has upset both Palestinians and settlers in the area who have joined together to stop the construction of the landfill.

Palestinians from the village of Rammun have petitioned High Court of Justice to halt the project.

The court issued an injunction to do so during the legal proceedings.

Rammun residents are upset about the close proximity of the landfill to their village and have disputed the claims to the land.

But the Joint Service Council for Solid Waste Management, which is in charge of constructing the landfill, believe that work should proceed and sent laborers to the site last week.

In anticipation of possible protests from Rammun residents, it requested permission for Palestinian security forces to guard the site.

A representative for Central Command, Major Ahiad Mesika, explained to the Knesset committee that the request was ceded to Palestinian security forces because it was deemed preferable that they would deal with the matter directly, rather than the IDF.

“We didn’t imagine that they would use live fire,” Mesika said.

Both Mesika and Lt.-Col. Avi Elimelch, who represented the Office of the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories, said the IDF had erred in granting permission for the work on the landfill to take place that day.

The decision was made by someone in the field who was unaware that there was court injunction against it, Elimelch said.

MK Bezalel Smotrich (Bayit Yehudi) said the Oslo Accords barred Palestinian police from operating in Area C of the West Bank.

“I’m not even sure that the head of central command and the defense minister are allowed to make such a decision,” he said.

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