Last month, the Palestinian Authority (PA) announced that it would cease to respect the Oslo Accords’ division of the West Bank into Area A (administered directly by the PA), Area B (under shared Israel-PA control), and Area C (under Israeli control). In practical terms, doing so means building homes in Area C and settling Palestinians there. Hillel Frisch notes that the European Union has been helping Ramallah do just that for several years:
In July 2011, a report entitled “Area C and Palestinian State Building” was produced by the EU. It was then brought to the European Parliament in December and approved by the European Commission in early January 2012. . . . In April 2012, the PA’s Ministry of Local Government published a strategic action plan entitled “Planning Support for Palestinian Communities in Area C.” The EU announced its support for this plan in an official document published in 2012 called “Land Development and Access to Basic Infrastructure in Area C.”
By 2016, the European Community had spent a total of 10.5 million euros to draw up and implement zoning plans for 90 Palestinian settlements and support land-development projects in Area C in conjunction with the PA. Such aid is explicitly envisioned not only as helping marginalized communities but as part of a blueprint to assist Palestinian state-building.
The objective is clear: to create continuous Arab settlement from the south to the north of the West Bank, while simultaneously thwarting Israeli designs to create continuous neighborhoods from [the West Bank town of] Ma’ale Adumim to Jerusalem. . . . As new Israeli building dwindles to insignificance in areas east of Jerusalem, the PA, with European help, has succeeded in housing tens of thousands in a space no larger than 3.5 square miles. This population is more than double the number of inhabitants in Ma’ale Adumim and the other Israeli localities in the area.
One might hope that such efforts would at least serve to improve the living conditions of the Palestinians who move into the new housing, but that is not the case:
Palestinian strategic settlement in the area comes at the expense of the quality of life of the new residents of these . . . sprawling developments. . . . The single road to traverse the vast urban expanse is only two lanes wide [and thus] is continuously clogged. . . . Fire trucks would find it impossible to reach the scene in the event of even a small emergency, let alone an earthquake. Garbage burns in the open with devastating health effects on the inhabitants of the development as well as in the nearby Jerusalem neighborhoods of Isawiyyah and French Hill.