Five homes in the Shaarei Tikva settlement in the northern West Bank were reportedly built on land allocated to the Palestinians under the Oslo agreements.
While a construction permit for one of the houses was given prior to the signing of the 1995 Oslo II Accords, work on the structure began only afterward, according to a report Monday by the Walla news site. The other four homes, however, were all approved and developed after the bilateral agreement signed by Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization that divided the West Bank into three administrative categories.
Under the Oslo Accords, Area C of the West Bank — 60 percent of the territory, where most of the Jewish settlements are located and some 150,000 Palestinians live — is under full Israeli administrative and military control, while in Area B (22%), administrative control is the responsibility of the PA and the IDF is in charge of security. Area A — 18%, encompassing the major Palestinian cities — is under the full administrative and security control of the Palestinian Authority.
Three of the houses were found to have been built completely in Area B, while the two other homes were revealed to have been constructed partially in area B and partially in area C.
While all five homes stand inside of the security fence surrounding the settlement that was constructed during the early 2000s, the administrative responsibility for the property still technically lies with the Palestinian Authority, which was not given an opportunity to authorize the building, the report said.
The Samaria Regional Council, which handed down the permits to the Shaarei Tikva residents, released a statement Monday insisting that the fault for the “historic error” lay with the cartographers who produced the maps used in the Oslo agreements as well as the Civil Administration — the Defense Ministry body responsible for approving construction in the West Bank — which did not notify them of the change.
The council’s chairman, Yossi Dagan, called on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to “personally intervene in order to correct this absurdity.”
In a statement responding to the report, the Civil Administration pinned the blame back on Dagan’s Samaria Regional Council. The Defense Ministry body recognized that the buildings in question were within the framework of a master plan approved by the Samaria council in the 1980s, and said “it was [the council’s] responsibility to examine whether changes were made to the area” as a result of the agreement.
While settlement regional councils are given access to Civil Administration that would have allowed them to recognize that the plots approved for construction stood in Area B, Dagan said that the Defense Ministry body simply did not update the maps or the relevant master plan.
The Kerem Navot settlement watchdog harshly criticized the findings in a statement Monday, saying that “construction within Area B is contrary to the official agreements signed by the government and is a radical move that can entangle Israel in the diplomatic arena.”
The organization went on to refer to the illegal construction as part of a “criminal culture that has developed over the years in the settlements, and in Shaarei Tikva in particular.”
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