Israel approves plan for Palestinian town in Area C


The Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) has approved the master plan for a Palestinian village in the Jenin District.

The plan for the village of Ti’anik, which has a population of 1,000, will make existing structures legal and give permission for additional building, allowing for future development. It was submitted by the village’s local council and dignitaries, and was approved after several meetings with COGAT officials.

Area C, which covers approximately 60 per cent of the West Bank, was designated under complete Israeli control in the 1995 Oslo Accords. Most Israeli settlements are built in Area C and until now it has been nearly impossible for Palestinians to obtain building permits in this area.

The plan appears to be part of Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman’s “carrot and stick” approach which he announced in August in relation to the West Bank. He warned that restrictions would be imposed on those who endorse terror and reward given to those who reject it, with several specific development projects in the pipeline.

Lieberman said: “Anyone who is prepared for coexistence will prosper, while those who opt for terrorism will lose.”

Earlier this month COGAT announced retroactive building approval for two Palestinian schools in Area C districts of southwest Bethlehem and south of Hebron. Other projects reportedly being worked on include the establishment of an economic passage between Jordan and Jericho, which would economically benefit West Bank Palestinians by easing trade routes.

Israel has also announced that it will invest 50m shekels to enlarge and improve efficiency and security at two crossing points around Jerusalem. The crossings are at Qalandiya, north of Jerusalem, and Rachel’s Tomb, near the West Bank city of Bethlehem to the south.

Commenting on the difficult conditions at the crossings, which are used by tens of thousands of Palestinians in July, Lieberman said: “Everyone suffers equally here, Jews and Palestinians, and this situation cannot continue.”

In May, Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon and former Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon announced their intention to upgrade West Bank crossings. Ya’alon said: “The plan is designed to increase the number of Palestinian workers who go through the checkpoints, as well as improving their conditions and standing up to the tests of quality and service.”