The Palestinian Authority has reportedly begun the process of issuing building permits to all areas of the West Bank — even those where Israel maintains security and administrative control.
PA Local Governance Minister Majdi al-Saleh has instructed officials and regional managers in his office to expand the plans of Palestinian towns to include surrounding areas as well, Haaretz reported Saturday night. The report quoted him as saying the move was part of the PA decision to do away with the distinction between the various parts of the West Bank.
That decision was announced in early August by PA Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh during a meeting in Ramallah that was attended by Saleh and Jerusalem Affairs Minister Fadi al-Hadami, among others.
“Israel no longer respects any of the signed agreements and has started to deal with all places as if they are part of Area C. Therefore, we will deal with all places as if they are part of Area A,” Shtayyeh said, according to the official PA news site Wafa.
The Oslo Accords, a series of agreements signed by Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization, divided the West Bank into three areas: A, B and C. Area A refers to parts of the West Bank under Palestinian security and administrative control; Area B alludes to places in the territory under Israeli security control, with certain exceptions where Palestinians maintain limited security control, and Palestinian administrative control; and Area C is those locations under both Israeli security and administrative control.
Ibrahim Milhem, Shtayyeh’s spokesman, said that the PA prime minister’s comments meant that Ramallah would start to issue building permits to Palestinians in Area C.
Israel frequently demolishes homes in Area C that Palestinians build without its permission and would likely also destroy structures there that were given PA construction permits.
The remarks by Shtayyeh and his spokesman came less than a week after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s security cabinet granted some 700 building permits to Palestinians in Area C and approximately 6,000 others to Israeli settlers.
Palestinians and rights groups have frequently complained that Israel rarely grants building permits to Palestinians in Area C, while giving thousands to settlers.
Shtayyeh’ announcement also came two weeks after Israel knocked down several buildings, including a number in areas A and B, in Wadi Hummus, a part of the West Bank adjacent to the security barrier and Jerusalem’s Sur Baher neighborhood, drawing vociferous protests from the Palestinians.
The owners of those properties have said they had received construction permits from the PA government in Ramallah.