PA to Grant Building Permits in Israeli-controlled Area of West Bank
Move comes after Abbas announces cancellation of all agreements with Jewish state
The Palestinian Authority has for the first time announced its intent to grant building permits in parts of the West Bank known as Area C, which is under full Israeli administrative and security control.
The Oslo Accords divided the West Bank into three distinct regions: Area A, which is fully controlled by the PA; Area B, which is administered by the PA even as the Israeli military remains deployed there; and Area C, comprising approximately 60 percent of the entire territory.
Last month, PA President Mahmoud Abbas announced the suspension of all agreements previously signed with Israel. This came just a few days after Israeli forces demolished several Palestinian buildings in a southeastern Jerusalem neighborhood that had spilled over into Area A.
Ahmed Ghoneim, the PA’s deputy minister of local government – which is tasked with urban planning, including the issuance of construction permits – told The Media Line that the latest move effectively extends the PA’s jurisdiction in the West Bank.
“We are implementing the decision [to cut ties with Israel],” Ghoneim said. “On the order of President Abbas, a committee has been formed to develop mechanisms to follow through.”
He added that the Ramallah-based PA was merely acting in accordance with the 1993 Oslo Accords, which called for the transfer to the Palestinians of the vast majority of the West Bank 18 months after elections for the Palestinian Legislative Council, or parliament. The elections were held in 1996.
“From a political point of view, the terms ‘A,’ ‘B’ and ‘C’ no longer exist to us,” Ghoneim stressed, adding that “from a professional and technical perspective, we will apply planning policies in Palestine at three levels: national, regional and local.”
PA Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh concurs.
On Sunday, during a meeting in his office in Ramallah with owners of homes demolished by Israel last month, Shtayyeh said: “Israel no longer respects any of the signed agreements and deals, [treating] all areas [in the West Bank] as if they were Area C. Accordingly, we will deal with all areas as if they are Area A.”
Palestinians are rarely granted construction permits in Area C, as opposed to Israel’s green-lighting of thousands of homes for Jewish settlers living throughout the West Bank.
A spokesman for Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu declined to comment on the matter to The Media Line.