Defense Minister Naftali Bennett has told the ministry’s legal adviser he opposes Palestinian construction underway in West Bank land south of Nablus, located in Area B, citing potential security threats to nearby Jewish settlements.
The case of Palestinian construction in the area of the settlement Shiloh, south of Nablus, is currently being reviewed by the High Court of Justice.
According to the Oslo Accords, Area B is defined as West Bank territory under Palestinian civil jurisdiction and Israeli security jurisdiction. Israeli interference in Area B construction is seen as highly unusual.
According to the Ynet new site, preliminary Palestinian construction work in the area began in mid 2019, but local settlers became concerned over the work, as the land in question is on the border of Area C — under full Israeli control — and very near several Jewish communities.
In a letter to the ministry’s legal adviser in light of high court petitions on the matter, Bennett’s adviser on settlements, Avi Roeh, said “there is no real justification for the construction in its current location of all places, and it seems its main purpose is to challenge Israeli security forces.”
Roeh asserted that the investor behind the project had declared it to be part of an effort “to encourage a Palestinian takeover of lands in the Judea and Samaria area.” He said it could have “broad security consequences” for the region and for this reason “the political echelon’s position is that construction should not be allowed there.”
Roeh stressed that Bennett would not have involved himself in the Palestinians’ use of the land if it were not for security threats it poses.
Roeh is a former head of the Yesha Council, an umbrella organization for West Bank settlements.
In a statement, Shiloh area residents welcomed Bennett’s position and lauded “his brace and significant decision not to allow the construction of an Arab town dozens of meters from the community of Amichai and adjacent to the Shiloh bloc.”
The ministry’s position on the issue is expected to be presented to the High Court as it reviews the case.