Planning in Area C
THE BIG PICTURE:
Palestinian communities living within the boundary of "Area C" of the West Bank are at heightened risk of demolition, displacement, and land expropriation by settlers and settlement encroachment. Since the 1995 Oslo Accords, the Israeli Civil Administration (ICA), which is the bureaucratic arm of the Israeli Army (IDF), has been responsible for overseeing the development and planning for all communities in this area. As final status negotiations never resolved after the Oslo Accords, the ICA has remained responsible for all planning procedures in Area C, and their authority has resulted in the systematic approval of plans supporting settlement expansion in Area C and the continued demolition of Palestinian homes and villages located in their shadow. Without full representation on planning committees and the right to plan their own communities, Palestinian villages will continue to fall victim to home demolitions, the expropriation of their agricultural lands, and the destruction of their livelihoods and way of life. Supporting the Master Planning process for communities in Area C is a way to ensure the economic, social, and political viability of a future Palestinian state and give Palestinian communities the hope for improving the quality of their lives through self-determination.
What is Area C?
Under the 1995 Oslo Accords, the West Bank was split into three geographic zones: Areas A, B, and C. Area A, which includes the major built-up urban areas such as Ramallah, Bethlehem, Jericho, Hebron, and Nablus, were all given full control to the Palestinian Authority. Area B, the semi-urban peripheries of these major cities, were given joint control between the Palesitnian Authority and the Israeli Army (IDF). Area C, the largely rural 62% of the West bank, was given full administrative and security authority to the IDF.
What is a master plan?
The Master Planning process can help communities achieve their economic and social goals by providing plans for additional construction such as homes, schools, and roads. It is also an important opportunity for underserved communities to exercise self-determination. As many of the villages in Area C are rural and therefore relatively isolated, a plan for development is essential to ensuring their access to safe water, education, and other resources.
Denial of planning rights
Unfortunately, these communities have not benefitted from the IDF’s responsibility to maintain their well-being under international law. Instead, the IDF’s civil administration has systematically denied Palestinian communities access to infrastructure and development by denying their applications for building permits or rejecting their master plans outright. Repeated home demolitions and land appropriation in Area C have forced many Palestinian communities off of their privately owned agricultural land and into the larger urban areas, leaving room for Israeli settlements to expand.
What is being done?
The Palestinian Ministry of Local Government (MoLG) was established under the Palesitnian Authority in 1994, and has focused most of its efforts on planning in Areas A and B. However, since 2011, the MoLG has diverted time and resources into supporting the Master Planning process in Area C, often with help and funding from foreign governments. Since 2011, Palestinian planning consultants such as the International Peace and Cooperation Center (IPCC) have prepared over 99 plans for review by the Israeli Civil administration. As of March 2015, only 3 plans had been approved.
What can you do?
Rebuilding Alliance has been hosting conference calls with foreign policy staffers in congressional offices across the country. We are working to build support in the United States for the rights of Palestinian communities to plan, build, and live on land that they own, without risk of demolition and displacement.
Tell your congressperson that you support the rights of Palestinian communities to live on the land that they own: