A week ago, the Palestinian Authority (PA) prime minister Mohammad Shtayyeh, after spuriously accusing the Israeli government of violating the Oslo Accords, announced that the PA will henceforth begin to build housing in Area C—the part of the West Bank that the Accords leave under exclusive Israeli control. Yoni Ben-Menachem writes:
It appears that . . . the PA has begun a process of disengagement from Israel and the agreements with it. This means that any attempt to build homes in Areas B and C in breach of the Oslo Accords could lead to clashes between the IDF and Palestinian civilians engaged in the building, and possibly also between the IDF and the Palestinian security forces. With these decisions, the PA is trying unilaterally to take over parts of the West Bank and to establish facts on the ground—not through negotiations and in blatant violation of the Oslo Accords.
Last month Prime Minister Shtayyeh visited Jordan and Iraq and signed a series of economic agreements in the fields of trade, health, energy, and natural resources. The PA has also stopped sending patients to Israeli hospitals for treatment [in order] to stop adding to these hospitals’ revenues. Shtayyeh is also planning to visit Egypt shortly and sign economic agreements there.
Israel must not fall asleep at the wheel; it needs . . . to warn the PA publicly that unilaterally ignoring the division of the West Bank into three areas stipulated by the Oslo Accords is a grave infringement and will lead to harsh Israeli reactions. . . . The PA must not be allowed to establish facts on the ground that will affect the final status of the West Bank.