National Public Radio’s “Morning Edition” program featured a report on events in the West Bank. The IDF plan to evict hundreds of Palestinian villagers to use the area for a firing range, a decision in which Defense Minister Ehud Barak must play an important role, undercutting his stated concern for Israel to reach an accord with the Palestinian Authority. This NPR report by Lourdes Garcia-Navarro begins as follows:
Demolition of Palestinian home (Abed Al Hashlamoun/EPA/Lando
Peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians have been frozen for almost two years. But … that doesn’t mean events aren’t happening on the ground. Recently, the Israeli military issued orders calling for evacuation and demolition of nearly a dozen Palestinian communities in the occupied West Bank. Palestinians see this as evidence of Israeli plans to annex the territory, though Israel denies this.
The Israeli military, though, says it needs the area for a firing range, and it’s pushing to get the villagers out through the Israeli courts.
The Battle Over Area C
But Palestinians say the fight isn’t over a single piece of land. It’s a much broader battle, they say.
The communities lie in what is known as Area C. The Oslo peace accords of 1993 divided the West Bank into three sections pending a final settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Area A, which includes the Palestinian cities and towns, is supposed to be under Palestinian control. Area B, which is made up mostly of Palestinian villages and farmland on the fringes of Palestinian towns, is supposed to have Palestinian civilian rule and Israeli security control.
Area C is under full Israeli administrative and security control and accounts for some 60 percent of the West Bank.
Most Jewish settlements in the West Bank are located in Area C, and Israel restricts Palestinian building in these areas.
Abdul Aziz Abu Fanar … says the Israelis’ actions in Area C indicate strongly that they want to annex it.
It’s a suspicion that has only been fueled by recent statements from right-wing leaders in Israel who have come out publicly in support of such a plan. …
Later, this report quotes our old friend, Yossi Beilin, the former leader of the Meretz party, speaking against right-wing agitation for annexing Area C:
“We are building there, we are announcing universities there [i.e., in Ariel]” he says. “There is no problem whatsoever for any Israeli to move around freely in Area C and to do whatever he or she wants to do there. Why bother and make it an official annexation if de facto, it is annexation [already]?”
The NPR website includes an audio recording of the broadcast.