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Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Is Israel considering giving land to the PA?


Agriculture Minister Uri Ariel
Agriculture Minister Uri Ariel
Hadas Parush/Flash 90
Israel is considering the possibility of transferring land from Area C, which is under complete Israeli control in accordance with the Oslo Accords, to the Palestinian Authority, Channel 2 News reported on Tuesday.

Agriculture Minister Uri Ariel later made clear that if Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu goes through with the plan, he will not have a coalition.

According to the report, the Civil Administration is looking into the idea of transferring some 10,000 dunams of land in Area C which are either state-owned land or private Palestinian Arab land that borders Areas A and B.

The move is part of a series of “gestures” that Israel is considering making to the Palestinian Authority.
This plan, which is being examined under the heading "thickening the Palestinian Authority-controlled areas", has yet to be approved by the Cabinet, but officials in the Civil Administration told Channel 2 it is definitely being examined and formulated.

Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon’s office refused to comment on the report.

Responding to Tuesday evening’s report, Ariel made clear that approval of such a plan could result in the dismantling of Netanyahu's current coalition.

"Again it is being reported that a ‘gesture’ in the form of transferring land to the PA is being considered. Therefore I will be clear, if Netanyahu goes through with this, his current coalition will fall apart," tweeted Ariel.

Interestingly enough, news of Israel’s plan came hours after the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee's Subcommittee on Judea and Samaria held a follow-up discussion regarding the response to illegal Arab construction in Area C.

Representatives of Regavim, an NGO watchdog group for Jewish national property rights, spoke at the discussion saying, "In the region of Ma'ale Adumim (east of Jerusalem - ed.) alone there are around 1,000 illegal structures, and the trend is only building strength."

MK Moti Yogev (Jewish Home), who heads the committee, said during the discussion that in practice those in enforcement are doing nothing on the subject, both in terms of the operational and the legal aspects of the matter.

"The enforcement on the ground is not being managed equally between Arabs and Jews. In general the construction is directed by the Palestinian Authority mainly on strategic land - E1," he said, noting a highly important stretch linking Jerusalem and Ma'ale Adumim.
He added that the illegal construction is "funded by the European Union in   breach of the Oslo Accords."

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