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Israel to expand Palestinian foothold in W. Bank’s Area C by 1,000 homes

CM 11/08/2021

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In a dramatic move, Defense Minister Benny Gantz has agreed to expand the Palestinian foothold in Area C by 1,000 housing units.
The Civil Administration is also expected to advance plans for over 2,000 settler homes in Area C as early as next week.
The different building initiatives were announced simultaneously on Wednesday. The Civil Administration rarely grants Palestinians approval to build in the West Bank’s Area C, which is under IDF military and civil control.
The move comes after CIA Director William Burns, who is in Israel, held a separate meeting with Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and Gantz.

In his meeting with Gantz, the two “discussed various initiatives for intelligence cooperation and the need to strengthen the Palestinian Authority as well as additional moderate actors in the region,” the Defense Ministry said. 
Israel has been under pressure from the US to make gestures to the PA. Hebrew news site Ynet first broke the story, which sources then confirmed to The Jerusalem Post. The PA and most of the international community believe that Area C should be included within the borders of a future Palestinian state.Oded Revivi, head of the Efrat, a West Bank settlement south of Jerusalem, offered his support in a statement made on Wednesday, claiming the approval of the Palestinian Authority’s request is a “positive step forward which strengthens the Israeli settlements.””If one is to prevent illegal Palestinian construction in Area C, one must state where Palestinian homes can be built,” Revivi said in the statement. “If not, they will build anywhere and everywhere since they will have no one to answer to,” he added.
Israel’s political Right, which includes Bennett’s Yamina Party, has opposed Palestinian building in Area C, which it holds should be included in Israel’s sovereign borders.”This evil government has placed a wall of terror near Israeli cities, instead of an iron wall to protect the State of Israel,” said Likud MK Shlomo Karhi on the approval of 1,000 new Palestinian homes in Area C. “The approval of 1,000 housing units in Area C for Palestinians is a de-facto adoption of the Palestinian Authority’s plans to takeover the land of Israel,” added Religious Zionist Party MK Michal Waldiger.In contrast, Israeli left-wing NGOs condemned the Civil Administration’s decision to advance plans for over 2,000 settler homes in Area C.”The approval for over 2,000 new homes in [Area C] settlements undermines the chances of restoring the Palestinians’ trust and pokes a finger in the Biden administration’s eye,” Peace Now said in a statement. “The outrageous decision to deepen the occupation project violates the status quo, as well as the coalition agreements,” added Combatants for Peace in a statement of their own.

Source: Jerusalem Post

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