Israel is expected to come under pressure Sunday at the biannual meeting of the Ad- Hoc Liaison Committee to free up development for the Palestinian Authority in Area C, the area in the West Bank under full Israeli control.
For instance, a report on the economic situation in the PA written in advance of the meeting by the World Bank, concluded that “the continued geographical fragmentation of Area C [envisaged under the Oslo Accords as a temporary arrangement], poses a binding constraint to real economic growth, essential to support the future Palestinian state.”
The report said Area C “is the key to economic cohesion and is the most resource-abundant space in the West Bank holding the majority of the territory’s water, agricultural lands, natural resources and land reserves that provide an economic foundation for growth in key sectors of the economy.”
According to the report, the only way for the PA to get out of its current fiscal crisis – in addition to continued financial support by the international community and reform efforts by the PA – is to significantly ease obstacles on the Palestinian investments in Area C. For example, to build its economy, the report read, the Palestinian private sector needed access to land in Area C.
One Israeli official responded to the World Bank’s conclusions regarding Area C by saying they were as predictable as they were shallow. “Of course they are going to blame the fiscal crisis on Israel,” he said.
He continued, “There is not one word that Hamas took Gaza, depriving the PA of access to the sea. There is no mention that the PA pays salaries to workers in Gaza, but gets not a penny back in tax revenues, or that Qatar and Saudi Arabia are withholding promised millions of dollars because of squabbles with [PA President Mahmoud] Abbas.”
The 1995 Interim Agreement between the PLO and Israel divided the West Bank into three areas of civil and security control.
While Areas A and B fall under various levels of Palestinian control, Israel maintains full control over Area C, which represents some 62 percent of the territory, but is mostly rural and includes only 6% of the Palestinian population.
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