Report: Israel to let Palestinians use some of their own land

Israeli officials reveal plans to allocate nearly 5,000 acres of privately owned Palestinian land so as not to stand in the way of a PA-USAID economic development program.

Illustrative photo of a Palestinian farmer working his land (Photo: Anne Paq/Activestills.org)
Illustrative photo of a Palestinian farmer working his land (Photo: Anne Paq/Activestills.org)

Israel is pushing through a plan to allocate nearly 5,000 acres of land in Area C of the West Bank (under full Israeli military and administrative control) for a Palestinian economic development program, Hebrew daily Ma’ariv reported Wednesday.

According to the report, U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) is behind the initiative, and plans to fund and facilitate Palestinian agricultural and commercial development there. Israel’s Defense Ministry has committed to speeding up the planning process so the appropriate permits can be issued within 90 days.

It should be noted that the article reads like it was fed to Ma’ariv by the Defense Ministry or Prime Minister’s Office in order to show the Americans that, as a goodwill gesture, Israel is not entirely opposed to allowing Palestinians to use land that even Israel recognizes they own. The article quotes “officials in Jerusalem” saying as much:

It should be noted that Israel decided to acquiesce to the American request ‘in order to show that Israel is willing to approve development projects in Area C, that it is not obstructing Palestinian economic development and that it was done in coordination with the PA.’

To calm the domestic Israeli audience, those same “unnamed” officials say that the land in question is nowhere near the separation barrier, Jewish settlements or anything that is strategically important to Israel. In other words, this is an area that will become part of a Palestinian state in any future agreement, they added (i.e., this isn’t land that Israel wants).

A “senior Israeli defense official,” however, told Maariv the land will not actually be transferred to Palestinian Authority control and that it will remain “under Israeli sovereignty.” Israel, the official added, will not stand in the way of “American initiatives to help [Palestinian land owners] in agriculture and other areas,” noting that this is privately owned Palestinian land.

So, if I understood Israel’s logic correctly, let me sum it up:

The land is private Palestinian land, but Israel has sovereignty over it, but it is supposed to become part of a Palestinian state, but Israel won’t actually transfer control of it to the Palestinian Authority, but it will allow the Americans to fund and support Palestinian development on that land, so as to show it doesn’t get in the way of the Palestinian economic growth necessary for Palestinian statehood.

In even clearer words, Israel is allowing Palestinians to use their own privately owned land.

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