Israel Using Oslo Accords to Steal West Bank Land

11 April 2012

By Stephen Lendman

In 1993, Edward Said minced no words denouncing the Oslo Accords and Declaration of Principles, explaining:

"the fashion-show vulgarities of the White House ceremony, the degrading spectacle of Yasser Arafat thanking everyone for the suspension of most of his people's rights, and the fatuous solemnity of Bill Clinton's performance, like a 20th century Roman emperor shepherding two vassal kings through rituals of reconciliation and obeisance, (and) the truly astonishing proportions of the Palestinian capitulation."

It was unilateral surrender, a Palestinian Versailles. It affirmed a vaguely defined negotiating process. No fixed timeline or outcome were specified. Israeli officials obstructed and delayed. They refused to make concessions, and continued stealing Palestinian land. They never stopped.

Colonization is policy. Israel wants all valued Judea and Samaria areas, as well as Jerusalem for its exclusive capital. At most, Palestinians will get worthless cantonized scrubland.

They got nothing for renouncing armed struggle, recognizing Israel's right to exist, and agreeing to leave major unresolved issues for later final status talks. They're still waiting.

Major issues include an independent sovereign Palestine free from occupation, the right of return, settlements, borders, water rights, and East Jerusalem as Palestinian territory and future capital.

A new Palestinian Authority (PA) was established. Arafat agreed to enforce Israeli authority.

Subsequent agreements followed. The West Bank was divided into three parts. Each has distinct borders, administrations, and security rules. They include Areas A, B and C, plus a fourth for Greater Jerusalem. A complicated system works as follows:

  • Area A under Palestinian control for internal security, public order, and civil affairs;
  • Area B under Palestinian civil control for 450 West Bank towns and villages; Israel retains overriding authority for settler safety and its own interests; and
  • Area C, its water resources, and settlements under Israeli control on the West Bank's most valuable land; they're connected by special by-pass roads for Jews only.

Besides besieged Gaza, Israel controls the West Bank and Jerusalem. When Separation Wall construction's completed, its settlements, military areas, no-go zones, nature reserves, commercial areas, by-pass roads, tourist sites, checkpoints, and other barriers will comprise well over 50% of West Bank territory and Palestinian East Jerusalem

A longtime collaborator, Mahmound Abbas took credit as Oslo architect. Israel, of course, controlled everything. Arafat ran Palestine's side. Instead of driving a hard bargain, he capitulated. So did Abbas. Israel took full advantage. Things keep getting worse.

A previous article explained Israel's planned theft of 10% more West Bank land.

On April 10, Haaretz headlined, "Netanyahu is using Oslo Accords to annex more West Bank land," saying:

Israel's grabbing all it can get. An unnamed IDF officer defines Areas A, B and C as follows: "A is for Arafat, B is for bollixed up, and C is ours."

It's actually worse than that. Area C alone comprises over 60% of the West Bank. Israel considers it sovereign territory. Said knew a sellout when he saw it. The chickens keep coming home to roost.

"The division into three areas of control, meant as a temporary, transitional stage on the way to a final agreement, turned into a 'legal' repository for the settlement enterprise."

Land theft is official Israeli policy. Palestinians living in Area C believe land they're on belongs to them. They have documents proving it, but Israel steals what it wants anyway.

All sorts of schemes are used. In January, Netanyahu established a committee to examine West Bank land. "Headed by former Supreme Court Justice Edmond Levy, the panel has invited testimony from several human rights organizations, including Peace Now, B'Tselem and Yesh Din."

Yesh Din won't let its members cooperate. It considers what's going on illegitimate. It bypasses and challenges Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein's authority. He has final say.

Yesh Din believes the committee was set up without his knowledge. Weinstein told Netanyahu that committee recommendations won't be binding on him or his office.

Former Attorney General Michael Ben-Yair sits on Yesh Din's board. He said if still in Weinstein's post, he'd "have announced at the outset that he does not require the committee's advice even it turns out to be close to his own position. He said the committee's establishment infringes on the standing of the 350 employees of the Attorney General's Office."

No matter. Israel works its way around everything for what it wants. Palestinians are ruthlessly exploited and persecuted. They lose title to their own land. It took Israel 45 years to steal over 40% of the West Bank. It's heading toward well over 50% en route to over 60%, then more, plus all East Jerusalem.

A Final Comment

PA UN envoy Riyad Mansour submitted letters to Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and the Security Council. Their content urged condemnation of Israel's lawless settlement project, as well as "other illegal Israeli policies in the occupied Palestinian territory."

PA Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki said Israel's actions "not only inflame tensions but further underscore the dubious nature of the occupying power's claims of readiness to negotiate a peace settlement."

It's part of its wider scheme to steal all valued Palestinian land, solidify occupation control, subvert peace, and prevent a viable two-state solution.

Maliki wants Israeli settlements topping UN priorities. In fact, they barely register at all. Israel knows it has a free hand. It takes full advantage. Ban Ki-moon's on board. Washington's support goes without saying.

Rhetoric aside, Abbas collaborates willingly. Palestinians are denied. Liberating justice depends on getting it on their own. It's been that way for decades. Nothing changed. Palestine's struggle continues with no end so far in sight.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at  His new book is titled "How Wall Street Fleeces America: Privatized Banking, Government Collusion and Class War" Visit his blog site at and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.



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