A report issued on Saturday by the PLO’s “National Bureau for Defending Land” said that the parties forming the new coalition government, which is expected to be sworn in on Sunday, agreed on the need to “strengthen settlement in Jerusalem and turn it into a dynamic and modern capital [of Israel], as well as tighten control over Area C of the West Bank.”
The Oslo II Accord signed between the Palestinians and Israel divided the West Bank into three administrative divisions: Areas A, B, and C.
Over 60 percent of the West Bank is considered Area C, where Israel retains exclusive control, including law enforcement, planning and construction. Area A is under Palestinian administrative and security control. The Palestinian Authority exercises administrative control over Area B, but shares security control with the IDF and Israel Police.
The PLO warning is shared by several senior Palestinian officials in Ramallah, who have expressed concern over Bennett’s “hardline and extremist” policies concerning the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
“Bennett is opposed to a Palestinian state,” one official told The Jerusalem Post. “He also believes in the annexation of all the settlements. That’s why we’re not optimistic.”
Palestinian lawyer and columnist Ibrahim Shaaban predicted that the new coalition would be more right-wing than the current government.
He pointed out that Yisrael Beitenu head Avigdor Liberman, Bennett and New Hope leader Gidon Sa’ar are more right-wing than Netanyahu. “They will not abandon the policies of Netanyahu,” Shaaban argued. “They might even try to be more extreme than him to refute charges that they are moderate or affiliated with the left-wing. The new government will not be able to take serious decisions.”
The PLO report pointed out that the coalition agreements reached between the Yesh Atid, Yamina and New Hope parties clearly stipulate the formation of a monitoring body to maintain Israeli control over Area C, “in addition to strengthening and expanding what it calls heritage sites, and approving 300,000 housing units in Jerusalem and the West Bank.”
According to the PLO, this means that the new Israeli government “will continue the same policy of stealing
Palestinian lands and building settlements on them, as was done by previous Israeli governments.”
Israeli officials and right-wing groups have accused the PA of working to expand Palestinian construction in Area C in recent years.
“According to multiple sources, the new Israeli government will intensify monitoring of Palestinian construction activities in Area C,” the PLO report noted. “Defense Minister Benny Gantz and Gideon Sa’ar, leader of the Tikvah Hadshah party, who will assume the position of Minister of Justice in the new government, reached an agreement to appoint 50 inspectors to monitor Palestinian construction activities in Area C. The work of these inspectors will not include construction activities carried out by settlers in the area.”
The PLO also warned that the new Israeli government will continue the same policies of the Netanyahu government in Jerusalem. It said that the Jerusalem Municipality, backed by the Ministry of Religious Affairs,
intends to build a new bridge in the Mughrabi Gate (one of the entrances to al-Aqsa Mosque compound on the Temple Mount) “and remove the wooden bridge designated for the incursions of extremist settlers.”
The PLO claimed that the construction of the bridge “aims to increase the number of settlers storming Al-Aqsa Mosque, and perhaps build some rooms to house the occupation forces.”
The PLO also warned about Israeli measures to “evict” Arab families from their homes in some east Jerusalem neighborhoods, including Sheikh Jarrah and Silwan.
“The policy of displacement and ethnic cleansing is not limited to Jerusalem and its neighborhoods, but goes beyond that to include a number of areas in the West Bank, such as the Jordan Valley and areas south of Hebron,” the PLO report charged.
The PLO’s “Jerusalem Department,” meanwhile, warned of a “new explosion if the Israeli government allows Jews to hold a “flag march” in the Old City. The “Jerusalem Department” warned that the “explosion may extend to the whole occupied territories and lead to an outbreak of a new wave of Palestinian anger.”
Giving permission to Jews to carry out the flag march “confirms the stupidity of the political echelon and the security services in the occupying state (Israel),” the department said in a statement. “The occupation authorities have not learned the lessons from local, regional and international changes and continue to move towards more extremism.”
The department called on the international community and the US administration to provide international protection for the Palestinians and to “protect Jerusalem from the plans of the Israeli occupation to Judaize Jerusalem.”