Zone C, the part of the West Bank that Israeli law never wanted to release

In principle, since July 1, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu can reveal the contours of his annexation project on the West Bank. In its sights are the blocks of Jewish settlements and the Jordan Valley, located in Area C of the West Bank, which has always been sought after by Israel’s hard right.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been able to reveal his strategy of annexing one-third of the West Bank, Palestinian Territory occupied since 1967, and in particular the blocks of Jewish settlements and the Jordan Valley, at any time since July 1. , a very fertile agricultural strip that accounts for 30% of the territory.

A controversial election promise that follows the logic of the “peace plan” presented by Donald Trump in late January. If realized, it would spell the end of the two-state solution and destroy all ideas of a coherent and viable Palestinian state.

“Benjamin Netanyahu has made this project a personal affair; he wants to go down in history as one of the prime ministers to have validated a form of annexation like Menachem Begin with the Golan Heights in 1981, or even Levi Eskhol with East Jerusalem, after the 1967 war. “, explains France 24 David Rigoulet-Roze, researcher in the Middle East, associated with the Institute of International and Strategic Relations (Iris), and editor-in-chief of the” Oriente Strategic “review.

The territories sought by Benjamin Netanyahu, who seem to be pushing while waiting for an American green light, are in the Cde area of ​​the West Bank. This area, under the Oslosignés agreement of Israelis and Palestinians in the 1990s, is divided into three sectors.

Screenshot. © France 24

Zone A is under exclusive Palestinian control, Zone B, under Palestinian administration and Israeli security control, and therefore Zone C, under the exclusive security and administrative control of Etathbrew.

Under the Oslo Accords, this fragmentation of the Palestinian territory, which places 60% of the occupied territory and the only continuous strip in Zone C, would initially remain temporary until new agreements lead to the creation of a Palestinian state on the side of “Israel. In vain twenty-seven years later.

Right considers “Zone C Israeli”

“Originally, the idea was that Zone C would gradually become part of the Palestinian Authority, and eventually part of the (state) of Palestine when there was a permanent agreement,” recalls YossiBeilin, Israeli negotiator for the Oslo Accords, questioned by AFP. But the Right considers “Area C as Israeli” and “abuses Oslo” by trying to turn something “temporary” into something “eternal”.

For the Israeli right, which has often debated enough to annex “Zone C” without taking the step despite nationalist bids, the latter is not a Palestinian territory. She sees only one “disputed” area located in “Judea and Samaria”, citing the biblical name used by the Israeli government to define the occupied West Bank.

In recent years, several figures of the Israeli right and the hard wing of the classic right, such as former Secretary of Defense Naftali Bennett, leader of the Jewish home, a religious nationalist party or Uri Ariel, former Agriculture Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and Yuli Edelstien tenordu Likoud, demanded the annexation of zone C.

Some even provoke annexation of the entire West Bank, such as MoshéFeiglin from Likoud’s right wing, who in 2013 had proposed to “give to every family [palestinienne, NDLR] half a million dollars to encourage emigration. “

Benjamin Netanyahu had stayed away from this debate before pledging in September last year, a week to the day before the legislative election that promised to be complicated for his camp, to realize the dream of his right and “to write a wonderful new chapter in the history of Zionism . “

He arranged to the right and appealed to voters of Jewish settlers who were favorable to the annexation of large beaches on the West Bank and spoke of “a historic and unique opportunity” to apply the sovereignty of the land over the colonies “in Judea and Samaria and in” other important places ” .

An already de facto annexation on the ground?

The fact remains that in Israel, the idea shares the political class and society. The Jerusalem Democratic Institute, a Jerusalem-based research center, released a survey in early June showing that only 50% of Israelis support the annexation project.

For their part, a certain number of Israeli security officials, in post or in retirement, oppose the backdrop of the annexation, and believe that there is nothing to be gained by including in the law a situation that already exists in fact, de factosur fields.

In fact, from a demographic point of view, the colonization of the West Bank, which has been accelerated under the power of Benjamin Netanyahu, with power uninterrupted since 2009, changed the situation in Zone C. According to figures sent by the Israeli media, a substantial 450,000 settlers live, compared to with 200,000 to 300,000 Palestinians.

screenshot © France 24

In addition, from an administrative point of view, the Hebrew state retains control over security, planning and construction issues and imposes on Palestinians movements, assets and construction restrictions to which Israel rarely gives building permits. in this area.

In 2016, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights estimated that Israeli policy in Area C creates a “very coercive environment that requires [les Palestiniens] from”. A policy that is considered “systematic and general”, which prevents, according to the UN, the Palestinian population to thrive, access to water resources, grazing land, agricultural land and even basic services.

“All this policy, which has been implemented for many years, whether the transfer of Palestinians, the construction of settlements, the classification of land in the military zone, was aimed at taking as much land as possible with a minimum of Palestinians,” said Majed Bamya, Palestinian diplomat to the UN, to France 24.

It remains to be seen whether Benjamin Netanyahu will choose a maximal strategy related to Israel in the Jordan Valley and a hundred settlements, or a minimalist strategy by targeting a handful of settlements in Zone C.

No matter what election he is, he will need to speed up the process, despite international criticism and objections, especially the UN and European, as a defeat by Donald Trump in November in the presidential election could hinder his project.