Pursuant to the Oslo Accords, Judea and Samaria are divided into three parts: Area A, administered by the Palestinian Authority (PA); Area B, under joint Israeli-PA control; and Area C, under Israeli control. The last has a Jewish population of about 400,000—mostly concentrated in a few blocs of towns and villages near Jerusalem—and a Palestinian population of about half that number. With assistance from foreign governments and organizations, the PA has been systematically encouraging the construction of Arab homes and villages there, in violation of the Accords. Yaakov Eliraz explains:
The settlements in Judea and Samaria are a subject of extensive and spirited debate in Israel. The topic is a politically charged one, and construction and demolition are issues that frequently feature on the public agenda. But focusing on the future of the settlement project and its horizons of growth creates—even among its supporters—an optical illusion that obfuscates the bigger picture. The Israeli communities in Judea and Samaria take up only a tiny [geographic] proportion of Area C, and the events occurring in the greater area impact the settlements and other Israeli interests far more than the approval of this or that local construction plan.
The Palestinians, [meanwhile], have been employing diverse tactics and strategies in an effort to take over parts of Area C and have established a designated government ministry to oversee these efforts. . . . They are encouraging Bedouin to settle in permanent housing in the area, and employ a wide range of incentives to encourage Palestinians [as well] to settle there, including with tax exemptions, discounts for vehicle registration, jobs for those who settle, and so on.
They [also] systematically impede the sale of land to Israelis, and use violence to do so when necessary. They engage in large-scale road building and paving projects, launch large-scale agricultural projects with the aim of taking over state land, . . . initiate construction projects aimed at occupying lands, and have undertaken a large-scale public diplomacy campaign with the goal of cementing the idea that Israeli control over Area C is illegitimate.
Unsurprisingly, the number of illegal buildings in Area C increases by about 10,000 units every ten years, a trend capable of establishing irreversible facts on the ground. All these efforts are accompanied by an envelope of activity that gives it further power: legal action and international aid.
Eliraz goes on to outline how Israel could confront this problem actively and systematically—without taking the radical step of annexation.