Talk of a so-called Palestinian takeover of lands in Area C has been growing louder in the Knesset, the media and among the Israeli public. This narrative is fundamentally wrong; it contradicts the reality on the ground and reflects an outlook that flies in the face of both Israeli and international law. “Over the Border” is designed as a reminder that like the rest of the West Bank, Area C is legally Palestinian land held under Israeli military occupation.
The division of the West Bank into Areas A, B and C, as part of the Israeli-Palestinian Interim Agreement (the Oslo Accord) for a transitional period of five years has been in place for nearly three decades. Israel continues to rule the entirety of the oPt with military force, using this artificial division to take over a staggering amount of land in the West Bank, particularly in Area C.
The Interim Agreement did not alter the state of sovereignty over the West Bank in legal terms. Still, Israel treats Area C, which accounts for 60% of the West Bank, as if it were an inseparable part of the country and goes to great lengths to obfuscate its borders.
It continues to build and expand settlements, outposts and shepherding outposts in the West Bank, leading to exponential growth in the number of settlers and the areas they control. In a parallel process, the state initiates and advances institutionalized legal, economic and cultural seepage into the West Bank. In this, Israel strives to supplement its military control with civilian dominance, thereby effectively annexing Area C.
Sure enough, over the years, Israeli presence in the West Bank has extended far beyond the military and settlers. The report provides examples of the Israelization of the West Bank and explains why getting an education at the university in the settlement of Ariel, attending an Israeli rock concert in the oPt or going shopping beyond the Green Line are not innocuous activities but rather political acts.
Whatever form it takes, Israeli presence in Area C is designed to serve the agenda of blurring the lines between the sovereign State of Israel and the territories it occupies and normalizing the illegal West Bank settlement enterprise. In addition, the myriad Israelis who transit from Israel’s sovereign territory into Area C each day further drive Israel’s infiltration of the occupied Palestinian territory and increase public acceptance of it, making illegal actions appear as the accepted norm. These ostensibly innocent, mundane actions, legitimize the mechanisms of control and oppression in the oPt and violate the rights of Palestinians living in the area, including the rights to property and freedom of movement, and sometimes even the right to life.
Israel’s policy defies both international law and Israeli law, which expressly stipulate that Area C, like the rest of the West Bank, is land held under military occupation. Yesh Din calls on the international community to intervene and stop the institutionalized Israelization of Area C, which severely violates the human rights of the indigenous Palestinian population.