Palestinians: We don’t need permission from Israel to build on our land

“The terms A, B, and C no longer exist because Israel has violated the Oslo Accords.”

Mohammad Shtayyeh gestures during a Palestinian leadership meeting in Ramallah, in the Israeli-occupied West Bank February 20, 2019.  (photo credit: MOHAMAD TOROKMAN/REUTERS)
Mohammad Shtayyeh gestures during a Palestinian leadership meeting in Ramallah, in the Israeli-occupied West Bank February 20, 2019.
Palestinian Authority officials said on Wednesday that Palestinians don’t need permission from Israel to build on their land.
Responding to the Israeli security cabinet’s decision to grant 700 building permits to Palestinians in Israeli-controlled Area C of the West Bank, alongside 6,000 such licenses to homes in settlements, the officials said the Palestinians reject any attempt to put their rights on equal footing with settlements.
They also called on the international community to immediately intervene to stop Israel from “violating international law by pursuing settlement construction in the West Bank.”
A senior PA official told The Jerusalem Post that he believes the decision was taken in the context of the Israeli government’s plan to “annex” large parts of the settlements in Area C. “This plan is fully supported by the [Trump] administration,” the official said, adding that it was part of US President Donald Trump’s upcoming Middle East peace plan, also known as the “Deal of the Century.”
“Building on land classified as Area C is a right for Palestinians that can’t be traded or equated with settlements,” PA Prime Minister Mohammed Shtayyeh said in a statement.
Shtayyeh said as far as the Palestinians are concerned, the division of the West Bank, under the terms of the Oslo Accords, is no longer relevant.
“The terms A, B and C no longer exit because Israel has violated the Oslo Accords,” he said. “We do not need permission from the occupying power to build our homes on our territory.”
After the recent demolition of several Palestinian buildings in the Wadi Hummus area near the east Jerusalem neighborhood of Sur Bahir, PA officials said they will no longer recognize the division of the West Bank into three areas. The demolished homes, which were built near the security fence, were located in Areas B and C of the West Bank.
The Oslo Accords, signed between Israel and the PLO in 1993, divided the West Bank into three administrative divisions: Areas A, B and C. Area A is exclusively administered by the PA; Area B is administered by both the PA and Israel; and Area C is exclusively administered by Israel.
Shtayyeh accused Israel of aiming to “deceive international public opinion, legitimizing the settlements and trying to equate the building of Palestinian homes with settlements.”
The PA prime minister said that all settlements are illegal “and will end as they have ended in many countries.”
Nabil Abu Rudaineh, spokesman for PA President Mahmoud Abbas, also rejected the Israeli decision and said all settlements are illegal.
The Palestinians, he said, “have the right to build on all the 1967 occupied territories, and don’t need permits from anyone.” He added that the Palestinians “won’t give any legitimacy to the building of settlements on our Palestinian territory.”
Abu Rudaineh said that the Palestinians won’t “trade” their rights “with illegal settlements on the land of the state of Palestine, including east Jerusalem.”
PEACE NOW said on Tuesday that Netanyahu’s Palestinian building plan was a joke, because the need was so acute and construction permits were rarely issued.
It estimated that there were between 200,000 to 300,000 Palestinians in Area C of the West Bank, with some 1,000 young Palestinian couples in need of housing on an annual basis. The decision to promote about 700 units for them will not provide real answers to Palestinians who already live in Area C, and certainly will not help the entire West Bank to be developed as a Palestinian area, Peace Now said.
From 2009 to 2016, only 66 building permits were granted to the Palestinians in Area C, compared to 12,763 given for settler homes, Peace Now said, citing data it received from the Civil Administration. It added that in that period, Palestinians submitted 3,365 applications for permits.
Peace Now cited from former Defense Ministry adviser Kobi Eliraz’s testimony to the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee on November 1, 2018, to underscore the point that Israel had no interest in approving permits for Palestinian construction in Area C.
“We do not currently approve [Palestinian construction],” Eliraz said. “On some level, when everything is forbidden, everything is allowed. The High Court is also hassling us about this and is having a hard time backing us up on demolition... because it also asks us how many plans you have approved in the vicinity or area lately and when our answer is not satisfactory, then we also do not get enough backing from the court. We think this should be included as well.”
Transportation Minister Bezalel Smotrich, who is a Security Cabinet member, said that the plan was designed in such a way as to allow for continued settlement growth.
“For the first time, the State of Israel will determine in a clear and unmistakable manner that original inhabitants of the area will be able to build and develop only in places that do not harm the settlement enterprise and security, and do not create territorial contiguity or a de facto Palestinian state,” Smotrich said. “Places that do not serve the national interests of the Arabs, rather the national strategic interests of the State of Israel.”