Defence Minister launches campaign to reclaim Area C from illegal Arab construction

January 9, 2020 by Aryeh Savir - TPS
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Israel has launched a campaign to reclaim land in Judea and Samaria that is under full Israeli control and which the Arabs are trying to take control of through illegal construction, Defence Minister Naftali Bennett declared.

Defence Minister Naftali Bennett at the Kohelet Forum. (Yehonatan Valtser/TPS)

Speaking at the Kohelet Forum in Jerusalem on Wednesday, Bennett announced that “we are embarking on a real campaign for the future of the Israeli territory.”

He was relating to Area C, which is under full Israeli control as stipulated by the Oslo Accords.

He explained that Israeli policy until he entered office a few months ago “has been to help those Arabs build in those areas that are not theirs.”

However, a month ago, he convened a meeting at the Ministry of Defence and issued a directive by which the state “will do everything to make these territories the territory of Israel,” he said.

As part of the campaign, Bennett intends to appoint an administrator to oversee its successful execution.

“We are not in the United Nations, we are the State of Israel and our political interest is to seize and settle Israeli territory,” he stated.

Israel’s goal is that within a decade, millions of Israeli citizens will reside in Judea and Samaria, and within a short time Israel will declare sovereignty over the entire Area C, he said.

“This is the mission of the coming government: to break through and apply sovereignty over Greater Jerusalem, Ma’aleh Adumim, Gush Etzion, Givat Ze’ev, the Jordan Valley and everything in the middle,” he stated.

Palestinian Authority (PA) Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayeh recently announced that the PA would disregard the boundaries between Area C and those controlled by the PA and would build freely in Area C.

He is acting on the Fayyad Plan, formulated in 2009 by then-PA prime minister Salaam Fayyad who laid out the Plan for the Creation of the State of Palestine, a methodical program for seizing control of territory in Area C to form a broad and viable basis for a Palestinian state, specifically in the areas under Israeli control.

Fayyad’s plan essentially bypasses all negotiation or compromise with Israel and creates facts on the ground.

According to data collected by Regavim, which monitors and pursues legal action against illegal Arab construction, in 2009 the number of illegal Arab structures in Area C stood at 29,784, while in 2018 the number surged to 58,435.

Bennett recently threatened to demolish any illegal Arab construction in Area C, even if it was funded by the European Union.

In response to an inquiry on the issue by TPS, a senior official in the Defence Ministry stated that the “phenomenon of illegal Palestinian construction in Area C is one of the main issues that Defence Minister Bennett is dealing with, and he has already begun to work to eradicate the phenomenon.”

The official added that “a number of discussions took place on the subject and Bennett is monitoring the progress in person.”

At his meeting with EU ambassadors last month, Bennett told the ambassadors that “illegal construction in their financing would be destroyed by Israel” and made it clear that “his position on the issue was unequivocal.”

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