by Gil Bringer


by Yehudit Katsover and Nadia Matar
Women in Green

Since the infamous Oslo accords, Judea and Samaria has been divided into area A, B and C. Areas A and B are the cities and villages and surroundings under the control of the Palestinian Authority. (In theory the IDF is allowed into area B but they rarely enter and certainly have no say as to what the PA does there administratively). Area C is the area under Israeli control - the Jewish communities, the roads and the hills in between the Jewish communities. Areas A and B represent 40% of Judea and Samaria. Area C represent 60%.

Over the past months we have met with people who were not aware that the Palestinian Authority (PA) is working night and day to take over area C illegally and nothing is being done to stop them. There is no vacuum. There is no possibility of keeping the "status-quo".

This article describes what is going on in the Jordan Valley, but exactly the same is happening all over areas C in Judea and Samaria. We at Women in Green, busy trying to safeguard the state lands in Gush Etzion, witness the same policy by the PA as described in the article. It is a must read and a reminder of how urgent and important the campaign to apply Israeli sovereignty over Judea and Samaria is.

While in Israel there are talks of resuming the negotiations, the Palestinian Authority is establishing facts on the ground. The goal, which has long since been stated, is to take over areas 'C' and create territorial continuities. The method: establishing and developing Bedouin settlements while providing financial and legal support to the residents, who are increasingly identifying with the idea of a Palestinian state. The State's Prosecutor turns a blind eye, and the Civil Administration ignores the matter and in fact conducts a double-standard policy between Jews and Arabs. The Palestinians: "Jerusalem is the gateway to heaven, and the Valley is the gateway to Palestine".

They will come from somewhere in the area with a vehicle and a water-tank trailer, slow down near the Rimonim checkpoint, turn onto a side track and park after a few meters, right next to the Mekorot (Sources) pumping station. High up on the observation point, a soldier on duty will watch them fill the water-tank with a pipe that's already waiting for them there. No one from the outpost will stop them. That's the procedure and that's the order. From here they will continue onwards with their vehicle. The will return to their small settlement, located beneath one of the road's curves. While driving down Vered road, which runs between Rimonim and Jericho, they will wave hello to another family member in the opposite lane. He too will be traveling with an empty water-tank. He too is on the way to the pumping station. He too will return to the illegal settlement he lives in with a water-tank that was filled, courtesy of the Israeli government. Routine in the Kingdom of the Jordan Valley.

The Bedouin settlements that have been spreading in the area are desperate for water. Without it they can't survive. Up until recently the tribes used to drill into the Mekorot pipes and steal water. Occasionally, after drilling they never bothered connecting a new pipe that would lead the water to the encampment. The result was the non-stop flow of water that was left to leak away. Israel, for it's own reasons, chose not to fight the phenomenon, instead choosing to supply the illegal Bedouin settlement with the water it needs to develop. The pumping stations that are scattered across different areas in Judea and Samaria provide the Bedouins with all the water they need, all in a known and legal way. But this new way of obtaining water, albeit simpler, more organized, and allowing the Bedouins to expand their invasion of remote lands that have never seen a Mekorot pipe, requires the Bedouins use equipment that they do not traditionally possess: giant containers, huge water-tanks, and water-tank trailers. But there are those who are interested in the Bedouin expansion and the obtaining of these new areas. They understand the need for the water equipment and therefor supply them with everything they need in a wholesale fashion.

Following the source of the water containers is the beginning of a journey between stations to uncover the method, the means, and the objective. Who stands behind the new Bedouin settlements in the Valley?

Station No. 1: The writing on the container.

A quick ride down the Valley roads with a quick peek at the many settlements along the sides of the road are enough to paint the entire picture. Hundreds of identical water containers have been scattered in the area recently. Same color, same size, same shape. It is clear that they all came from the same factory and it is evident that a single entity is behind their distribution. Dropping to the side of the road and taking a closer look enables one to clearly read the Arabic inscription imprinted on every single container: "The Bedouin Support Plan. Funding: The Palestinian Authority. Implementation: Department of Local Authorities".

Next to the yellow containers that are used for water storage, many of the Bedouin settlements in the Valley have another kind of water tank scattered around: silver tanks on wheels. And the phenomenon repeats itself: the exact same water-tank trailer in every settlement that was examined. Each has the clear imprint of the manufacturer's phone number - 04-2468473. When we call the number one of the employees answers, and upon request hands the phone to Mr. Rushdi Rafat who introduces himself as the owner of the "Haj Rafat Metalworking Shop", located in Araba in the Galilee. I introduce myself as someone who is interested in buying a water-tank trailer and ask Rushdi for references for his recent jobs in the Valley area. He tells me that the tractor-pulled containers were produced by him on several occasions over the last few years and were supplied to the Jericho, Tekoa, Ramallah, Mishor Adumim and the Anatot quarry areas, as well as others. He has several models and colors. Some are galvanized and some aren't. "It all depends on how much I'm being paid", he explains. A small number of containers were purchased by the Red Cross but the majority were purchased by the Palestinian Authority. Rafat invites us to talk to them about his good work. The containers of the second kind were distributed by him in the Jericho and Mishor Adumim area, at the request of the PA, where the majority of the Bedouin settlements are concentrated.

The brotherhood that has formed between the Bedouins and the Palestinian Authority is very odd to those who hear about it. Many in the Bedouin leadership despise the PA and claim to have been neglected for years. A senior official in the Bedouin community who agrees to talk to us accuses the PA of corruption, in regards to the handling of money that is transferred to it from foreign parties who wish to invest in the welfare of the Bedouins. The southern brothers of the Bedouins from the Valley, who live in the Negev, have never even heard of PA support. You won't find any kind of water containers there, yellow or silver. What leads the Palestinian Authority to establish a support plan for the Bedouins living in the Valley area?

Station No. 2: Operation 'Passover'.

On the eve of last Passover, the Civil Administration personnel went on vacation, like most Israeli citizens. Bedouins of the Jahalin tribe, who settle in the Abu-Hindi valley below the Keidar community (a Jewish settlement), were already waiting in advance for this opportune moment. Using a technique that was very reminiscent of the "Tower and Stockade" operations used by Jewish settlers of pre-state Israel, the Bedouins constructed a new settlement just a few meters from the eastern border of Keidar. The first houses were erected just across the fence. During the 7 days between the first and second holidays, Palestinian Authority trucks arrived from the South Hebron Hills area. The trucks unloaded the equipment, and suddenly 80 identical housing structures popped out of thin air, spread across an enormous area. 3 here, 7 there, 15 on that side and 10 in another corner. Later on about 20 more units were built and at the next phase the number of structures reached 120. The new city of "Abu-Hindi" was now a fait accompli.

A senior official who participated in the latest patrol of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Security Committee in the area told Makor Rishon that the head of the Civil Administration's Supervision Unit, Marco Ben-Shabat, has confirmed that the structures were brought to the area by Palestinian Authority personnel. One look at the structures that sprung up overnight beneath Keidar is enough to see that this was not a local initiative. Anyone who elected to build a house in Abu-Hindi during the week of Passover received a housing package which included a double sized caravan, with a bathroom unit attached to its side, complete with piping, and a large water tank next to them. Not exactly the usual standards of the traditional Bedouin settlements.

The Civil Administration's personnel, who have been trying to reach an understanding with the Palestinian Authority and work with full cooperation, viewed this act as a resounding slap in the face and immediately issued a demolition order for the structures. The Bedouins were prepared with an application for a temporary injunction that would prevent the demolition. One can only assume that the party that supplied the water, the trucks, the structures and the equipment, also provided the legal support. What is the PA's motive?

Station No. 3: Taking over the Jordan Valley.

In August 2009, Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad announced his plan to establish a state "from the bottom up". Fayyad's plan included several principles, such as the development of infrastructures, separation of powers, free economy, and more. The stated goal was to establish a Palestinian state de-facto, under the assumption that the peace talks were sputtering and heading nowhere.

At the same time Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was trying to be perceived as someone who is pushing for a peace initiative, without being perceived as someone who is willing to give away parts of Judea and Samaria. This catch led Netanyahu to promote the "Economic Peace" plan, which is based on the idea that improving the Palestinian Authority's economy is an Israeli interest. The thriving economy of the Palestinians is a prerequisite that will bring both sides closer to the negotiations, claimed Netanyahu.

Initially it appeared that Netanyahu's idea fits well with the Palestinian Fayyadism: focusing on building the economy and abandoning peace initiatives. Except that Netanyahu's plan ends at the negotiations table while Fayyad's plan advocates the unilateral establishment of a Palestinian state.

In 2010 Fayyad's plan took a turn and the Palestinian side began new initiatives. The new Palestinian idea was to dissolve the traditional Oslo Accords division of the land into 'A', 'B', and 'C' Territories by creating territorial continuities of settlements and infrastructures.

'A' Territories are where the large Palestinian cities are located. The area is under PA security as well as civil control. In 'B' Territories, the PA administers civil affairs, while security affairs are Israeli responsibility. 'C' Territories are under Israeli and Civil Administration control. 'C' Territories present 60% of Judea and Samaria, and there are about 300,000 Jews living there. In addition, a few tens of thousands of Palestinians, comprising about 5% of the PA population, live there. 'C' Territories' great significance lies not only in their size, but mostly because they create a buffer between Palestinian civilian population centers.

In the beginning of 2010, Fayyad began making statements that he does not know how to read the letter 'C' and that all the areas of the West Bank are state lands that the PA is building on. In February of that year the PA opened a branch of it's Ministry of Agriculture in the village of Jiftlik, located in the northern Jordan Valley, a 'C' Territory where, according to the Oslo Accords, the PA is not allowed to operate. This act, which has similar strategic implications to the opening of the Orient-House in Jerusalem back in the day, was received with a resounding silence.

Naturally, the Ministry of Agriculture is the first, primary government body that would take interest in those 60% of Judea and Samaria. "All of our agricultural land is located there", said Ismail Daik, the Palestinian Minister of Agriculture, in an interview with Ha'Aretz when the branch was opened. He referred to the administrations that preceded Fayyad's era. "They believed that we could easily regain the land through negotiations. Reality proved otherwise, as Israel views 'C' Territories as Israeli land", said Daik in that same interview.

Naturally, the emphasis shifted to the Jordan Valley, both because it comprises about of the land in Judea and Samaria and because about 90% of it is defined as 'C' Territories. The signs hanging at the entrance to the Ministry of Agriculture's building in Jiftlik note that "Jerusalem is the gateway to heaven and the Valley is the gateway to Palestine". Another sign hanging nearby reads: "The Valley is the border between Palestine and its sister, Jordan".

The new strategy of the Palestinian Ministry of Agriculture, which serves as a spearhead to the other government offices, is to support the agricultural families in area 'C' in various ways, especially the ones who live in the Jordan Valley. Seizing control of the land is best achieved when it is based on local agricultural settlements. The Bedouins therefore present an excellent answer to the PA's needs. They are located in area 'C' in a way and manner that no other Palestinian population could fulfill in their place.

Over time, Bedouin society is undergoing a process of Islamization and Palestinianization, and the distance between the Palestinian and Bedouin groups grows smaller. As far as the PA is concerned, the Bedouin population creates the continuity it so desperately needs between Ramallah and Jericho, and sets facts on the ground on its behalf. The Bedouins, for their part, know how to repay the PA with increasing solidarity. Palestinian flags are seen flying in more and more Bedouin settlements that enact in practice Fayyad's policy.

Station No. 4: The New Israel Fund's representative.

The ineffectiveness of the Israeli authorities in face of the Palestinian move, which is no longer concealing itself and its purpose of snatching everything that's left of the 'C' Territories, has become a fact. Even though this is a declared Palestinian strategy that contradicts the Israeli policy, law enforcement agencies shuffle along.

A clear example is the matter of the appeals regarding the Masua community. In 2002 Bedouins invaded the private lands of the Masua community, at the foot of Mount Sartaba. The invasion of the lands of this community, which was established as the 4th Nahal outpost in the Jordan Valley in the early 1970s and was defined as part of the "continuous defensive shield of Jewish communities", constitutes as yet another crack in the shield of Israeli Sovereignty. The Bedouin families clung to the community's greenhouses and began cultivating the land parallel to the line of Israeli greenhouses.

At every stage of the expansion of the Bedouin invasion of Masua, the Civil Administration issued a new demolition order for the new section of illegal construction that was added. And every time, the Bedouins applied for a temporary injunction that would prevent the demolition, using Attorney Tawfiq Jabbarin. Every time, they received the desired injunction.

Unlike the Bedouin tribe that invaded the lands of Masua, Jabbarin, a graduate of the New Israel Fund's Legal Program, didn't pop out of nowhere. Late last January, the Al-Hayat Al-Jadida newspaper published an interview with Marwan Tubasi, Governor of Tubas, where he mentioned that "the Palestinians will continue clinging to their land and will make sure that all Israeli plans of Judaization of the Valley will fail, as the various parties in the district have begun working in earnest to obtain injunctions preventing the demolition of structures operated by the district and the Ministry for the Wall and Settlements Affairs". The work is being done, says Tubasi, "in cooperation with Adv. Tawfiq Jabbarin, who is tasked by the Palestinian Authority with the responsibility of monitoring the demolition of structures and representation of citizens in the Israeli courts".

Later Tubasi told proudly of how the PA created a fund of hundreds of thousands of dollars to compensate the Bedouins in case the structures are demolished. Jabbarin cannot be relied upon to deliver the goods every time, so it's always good to have a little something on the side. The Palestinian coverage of the Bedouin settlements is perfect. It includes water equipment, structures, legal aid and financial compensation.

All four applications for injunctions that were filed by Jabbarin were granted by the Supreme Court. On the other hand, the one application filed by the Masua community to consolidate the cases, in order to discuss the whole issue all at once and get rid of the red tape, was denied. And so, the matter has been left stagnant and hanging for 10 years, while the settlement has been growing and developing in front of the astonished eyes of the residents of Masua, who watch the excruciatingly slow conduct of the State's Prosecution in handling the invaders.

The unending smearing of the proceedings transmits the inevitable message to the Palestinian Authority: Israel has no real intention of fighting their invasion. Gone are the days when the Jewish communities in the Valley were viewed as a "Hebrew shield". No wonder the PA recently posted, on Israeli state lands, within the property of Masua, a sign on behalf of the Palestinian Ministry of Agriculture. The sign states in English and Arabic: "Successful rehabilitation". Another venture for the glory of the newly emerging State of Palestine.

By the way, in order to obtain water for agriculture, the Bedouin invaders had no need to steal from pipes or use water-tank trailers. One can simply drill into the ground illegally and get the water on site. In the absence of enforcement, the Bedouins have created an agricultural enterprise in the settlement that was set up outside the Masua community, with the endorsement of the Palestinian Ministry of Agriculture, and they began drilling on the community's lands.

Station No. 5: Lazy State's Prosecution.

The Israeli Authorities' blind eye in face of the orchestrated Palestinian move repeats itself again and again. Even when the Administration acts and issues demolition orders, something in the conduct of the State's Prosecution is jammed. There is no trace of the diligence and efficiency it demonstrates against the Jewish communities in Migron and Amona. Even in the isolated cases that it fulfills its duty, the courts jam the process.

For example, in the city of Abu-Hindi which was constructed in 7 days across the fence of the Keidar community, the Civil Administration requested to destroy the structures and issued demolition orders. The Jahalin tribe, who, as mentioned, immediately filed an appeal for an injunction which was prepared along with the trucks and equipment a long time in advance, should have encountered in court a State's Prosecution that was fighting for the rejection of the appeal and the execution of the demolition orders in the most urgent manner.

As far as the State's Prosecution was concerned it was a simple, easy task. Although Adv. Lecker, who is representing the Bedouins, claimed that they have always been inhabiting the area and that the structures that were brought to the valley about a year ago simply improved the housing conditions that already existed there, it is enough to look at the aerial photographs to prove that this claim is fundamentally baseless. Comparing 2 aerial photos of the specific piece of land in Abu-Hindi Valley clearly proves: new structures were brought to the location in 2011.

But the Jahalin had an extremely pleasant surprise waiting for them. Throughout the past year the State's Prosecution has requested again and again to postpone submitting its response to the issue. The State's Prosecution filed no less than 5 requests to postpone their response to the appeal for an injunction.

Justice Danziger, who was assigned the case, commented that "we can assume the structure will not be demolished before the injunction hearing". The Administration interpreted the judge's assumption as a binding assertion and therefore does not dare to execute the demolition orders in the new city, even though an injunction has not actually been issued. Meanwhile, the State's Prosecution has continued stalling, until recently the court threatened to not allow it to argue against issuing a temporary injunction that would prevent the demolition of the structures, due to "inaction in the case". Up until this moment, the State's Prosecution has not yet submitted even its initial response to the issue.

The 5 times that the State's Prosecution has asked for an extension, without taking any action on the matter, is no outstanding record in regards to its conduct with the Bedouins in the area. For example, in another case (HCJ 1828/06) the Administration requested to demolish illegal sheds that the Jahalin tribe had constructed. No less than 17 rulings were given during this case, all of them requests by the State's Prosecution for extensions, in 13 of which the court declared that the State's Prosecution has been conducting itself idly. As of today, the State's Prosecution has yet to submit the State's position on the heart of the matter.

Station No. 6: Private initiative.

The only ray of light in whole matter is the conduct of the Regavim movement, who time and time again have stepped into the State's shoes in places where it should have managed things. Regavim now requests to join the Abu-Hindi case as an amicus curiae.

"This case is one of many examples of the calculated, systematic methodology of the Palestinian conduct in implementing the Fayyad plan, establishing the infrastructure for a Palestinian state unilaterally and bypassing the need for negotiations with Israel", claims Bezalel Smotritz, CEO of Regavim. "The impressive logistical preparations, the precise timing for the intermediate days of Passover during which the Supervision Unit does not operate, the perfect execution of the 'operation' for the lightning-quick establishment of dozens of structures and finally the appeal to the Supreme Court immediately after the holiday; all these indicate that we are facing a well oiled, well funded machine, which operates proficiently to establish facts on the ground and to face Israel with faits accomplis that will greatly limit its political maneuverability.

"The majority of Israeli authorities still respond to this dangerous activity amateurishly, if not on criminal negligence. The Israeli inaction in face of the hyperactive Palestinian activism turns the Israeli political debate regarding the establishment of a Palestinian state into a farce. The Palestinian state is being established before our eyes and the way back is becoming increasingly difficult and complicated with every passing day.

"In the midst of all this, the Supreme Court is serving, knowingly or not, as a tool for the fulfilment of the political aspirations of the Palestinians. Sponsored by the injunction-trigger-happy system, and sponsored by the State's Prosecution shirking its obligation to protect the demolition orders and respond to appeals immediately, political facts are being set in the field and no one so much as says a word".

The Ministry of Justice's response to our questions on the matter was: "The State's Prosecution has not yet received the IDF's response to the appeal. We suggest contacting the IDF Spokesperson".

Station No. 7: Foreign involvement in the 'C' Territories.

About 2 years ago the Palestinian Authority began criticizing the countries that contribute enormous sums of money to the PA. The main accusation made by the PA against the contributing countries was that the policy of these countries and of the international development agencies is to direct most of their contributions towards projects in the 'A' and 'B' Territories, and not to 'C' Territories. This was being done out of a certain respect of the Israeli sovereignty over the 'C' Territories as was agreed upon in the Oslo Accords.

In another interview given by Daik to Ha'Aretz he said that in a meeting with international development agencies that engage in agricultural aid, they were told that the work with them will not continue if they refuse to participate in projects in the 'C' Territories. This global trend of evading providing aid in this "forbidden" area has been broken, according to him.

And the trend has indeed broken, so much so that it is a real revolution. According to a document that was prepared by the Research Department of the Yesha Council, the PA currently manages to reroute most of the donations it receives these days to 'C' Territories, despite the fact that the majority of its population is living in the 'A' and 'B' Territories. Here too the Palestinian Authority views the Bedouins and their form of settling the region as the key to seizing as much land as possible.

Station No. 8: An outpost-settlement as a school.

In 2009 the residents of Kfar Adumim appealed against the construction of the regional Italian school which was being built right below their community and was intended for the children of the Bedouin tribes that had settled in various outpost-settlements in the area. The school, which is located directly above Highway 1, does not serve only the locals: the Palestinian Authority subsidizes rides for students from more distant locations. It seems that here too the PA is trying to set facts on the ground via the Bedouin settlements and is willing to spend money in order to do so. The school which was built there is not a means, it is an end in itself.

The demolition order that was issued against the place years ago was never executed, despite the proximity of the school to the main thoroughfare and it being located within firing zones, facts that should have bumped it to the top of the demolitions priority list. But these, of course, are the very same facts behind the PA's desire to leave the school standing.

In 2010 the court accepted the position of the Civil Administration which stated that the school should not be destroyed before the end of the school year. This is despite the fact that there is a school nearby in Abu-Dis, from which students are transported daily to the Italian school in Khan al-Ahmar, which can absorb the entire student body. The court decided that the demolition of the school should be postponed until the end of June.

June ended and July came. August and September also went flying by. Time and time again the State's Prosecution asked for additional time to obtain more permits for the demolition of the school, permits that apparently could not be obtained during the months of inaction while waiting for the school year to end.

In October the State asked again for an additional 30 days, and in the background the clamor of students returning for a new school year could be heard in the school's halls. In November, the Coordination of Operations in the Territories Command announced that the process of approving the demolition had greatly advanced and had in fact passed all the stages except receiving the signature of the Defense Minister. The State's Prosecution informed the court that the Minister was expected to sign the demolition order by the end of 2011.

In February 2012 the State's Prosecution explained that due to a "technical error" the document was never given to the Defense Minister to sign. The State's Prosecution requested an additional 45 days. At the same time as the State's Prosecution was requesting an additional postponement to correct the "technical error", Ha'Aretz newspaper published that General Dangot, who was responsible for the coordination of operations in the Territories, had visited the Khan al-Ahmar settlement and informed the residents that he has no intention of demolishing the school. This information was consistent with messages that had been passed from Administration personnel to the residents of Kfar Adumim, who spoke with Makor Rishon, according to which the Administration has no interest in demolishing the illegal school structure.

In a conversation with the Coordination of Operations in the Territories Spokesperson, we attempted to understand how the State's Prosecution claim, saying that it was only a "technical error" that had delayed the Defense Minister's signing of the demolition order, was consistent with Dangot's own remarks, who according to publications had no interest in demolishing the structure.

In a verbal discussion the Spokesperson claimed that the details published in Ha'Aretz regarding Dangot were inaccurate. We inquired as to what Dangot had, in that case, said to the residents of Khan al-Ahmar, and at this point the Spokesperson asked us to send him a proper email on the matter. The email was sent to the correct address but no answer was received. We assumed that it must be a "technical error", a problem that seems to exist all around the Khan al-Ahmar issue. At the request of the Spokesperson the email was re-sent and all traces have since been lost. Of both the email and the Spokesperson. We can only assume that another "technical error" has plagued the matter.

In the meantime, the Palestinian Authority has no technical error problems. Fayyad decided, of course, to completely endorse the Bedouin school, and in an Appreciation Ceremony that was held last May, Fayyad arrived at the outpost-settlement to congratulate his people.

"You Bedouins are the Keepers of the Land", Fayyad told the residents. "Your insistence on teaching your children in this humble school, which was built by an Italian organization, is a sign of hope for us all. My visit to this village is a strong message for the freedom of my people, and for the establishment of a Palestinian state where the rights of our people will be preserved. On behalf of the Palestinian Authority, which is trying to soon become the Palestinian State, we call out to the international authorities and organizations to protect the rights of the Palestinians".

Gil Bringer is an attorney who serves as the legal consultant to the Jewish Home faction in the Knesset and co-editor of the "Tzedek" legal supplement to the Makor Rishon Hebrew weekly newspaper. Among other things, he deals with the areas of overlap between law and politics, Zionism and good governance. He can be contacted at

This article was published a year ago, in segments in May and June, 2012, but is now more relevant than ever. It was written in Hebrew for the Makor Rishon newspaper's 'Tze'dek' Magazine ( and describes the Arab take-over of area C. It has been translated into English as a public service by Women in Green. To subscribe to the Women in Green list, please send a blank email message to:

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