Sunday, November 29, 2015

By TOVAH LAZAROFF / The Jerusalem Post

Israel is not planning to unilaterally hand over portions of Area C in the West Bank to the Palestinian Authority, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told the Likud ministers on Sunday.

“There won’t be any transfer of territory to the Palestinians, not 40,000 (dunams), not 10,000 (dunmas) and not even one meter,” Netanyahu said on Sunday.

He spoke after Samaria Regional Council head Yossi Dagan publicly charged that the Office of the Coordinator for Government Activities in the Territories and the Civil Administration was continuing work on a plan to transfer 10,000 dunams of territory in Area C to the Palestinian Authority.

On his behalf Likud ministers — Ofir Akunis, Ze’ev Elkin, Haim Katz, Yisrael Katz and Miri Regev — raised the issue with Netanyahu at their weekly ministerial meeting.

Last week, US Secretary of State John Kerry reportedly had turned down a plan by Netanyahu to allow the Palestinians to build in Area C in exchange for stopping terror attacks in Israel and US acceptance of Israel’s right to build in the settlement blocs, which Israel believes will be part of its final borders in any final status agreement.

Channel 2 had reported that Netanyahu had planned as well to hand some portion of that territory over to the Palestinian Authority.

On Sunday Dagan said he knew that COGAT was still working on a plan to move one territory in Area C over to the PA, to be included as part of Area B of the West Bank.

The West Bank is divided into three areas, A and B are under the PA’s civli control and Area C, where all the Israeli settlements are located, are under Israeli military and civil control.

After hearing Netanyahu’s statement, Dagan called on the prime minister to publicly reject any such plan.

To execute such a plan now in the midst of a wave of terror would be akin to rewarding Palestinian terrorism, Dagan said.

Netanyahu must order COGAT and the Civil Administration to stop working on such plans, Dagan said.

It's not the first time that the possibility of such a plan has been raised. Martin Indyk, who was the former US special envoy to the nine months of Israeli-Palestinain talks, which ended failure in April 2014, mentioned a similar plan when he spoke in Tel Aviv earlier this month at the Israel Conference on Peace, sponsored by the newspaper Haaretz.

“In the last night of the negotiations that I was involved in, the Israeli negotiators came with an offer of tens of thousand of dunams of C Area, that they were prepared to give over to the Palestinian Authority’s control to build what they would want to on them without the permit regime and so on,” Indyk said.

“And that came in the context of a settlement freeze,” Indyk said. “Why can’t that be done now?”

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