Instead of transferring to Palestinian control, the biggest ‘Area’ in the West Bank remains firmly in Israeli hands.
Under the Oslo Accords, the 1993 interim agreement between Israel and the PLO, the Occupied West Bank was divided into three Areas, A, B, and C, which were placed under different jurisdictions.
The largest and the most contentious of these, Area C, was supposed to pass to Palestinian control but in the last two decades the exact opposite has happened. Israel has retained control of an area comprising over 60% of the Occupied West Bank.
“Area C constitutes a real disaster,” says Dr Hussein Al-Rimmawi of Birzeit University in the West Bank. “Most of the Israeli settlements have been built in Area C. It’s under full Israeli control, particularly security. Palestinians have no authority over this.”
|The Oslo Accords were imposed to enable Israel to take over the Jordan Valley. As a Palestinian living here, I can’t accept my land is ‘C’ and my house is ‘C’. Maybe my own children will be named ‘C’.|
The whole Palestinian people have been affected and individual communities like the villages of Al Maleh, Kafr Qaddum and Aqaba have suffered.
Within the overall occupation, the problems communities face are localised.
The head of the Aqaba village council, Sami Sadek, says that after 1967 the area was sealed off as a military zone for Israeli troops. Their military exercises caused about 50 casualties and the ensuing exodus saw families relocate to neighbouring villages.
Twenty-four kilometres away lies the village of Kafr Qaddum, next to the Israeli settlement of Kadoumin, which blocks one of the roads into the Palestinian village. The residents have been campaigning against this settlement.
Al Maleh has also suffered from the Israeli appropriation of property for military training. Once comprising 13 Palestinian villages, it was “completely wiped out by Israelis in 1967,” says Aref Daragmeh, head of the village council.
Palestinians in Area C are increasingly under threat because of access to water. Eighty percent of the Areas’ wells are in Area C, according to Dr Abdul Rahman Al-Tamimi of the Association of Palestinian Hydrologists. “An Israeli settler consumes around 600 cubic metres a year while a Palestinian only consumes 140 for farming and drinking. What’s strange is that we pay four times the price. Our conditions were much better before the Oslo Accords,” he says.
Wide-ranging in approach, this documentary unpacks the increasingly complex landscape of Area C. The film features interviews with residents and experts about the impact of the Oslo Accords, asks why devolution to Palestinian control has never happened, talks about the seizures of Palestinian lands and the way Israeli settlements spread with seeming impunity – and it builds a picture of the detail and extent of the Israeli occupation.