Settlers from West Bank outposts have taken control of land in Area B and are thus in breach of the 1995 Oslo agreement between Israel and the Palestinians, says Dror Etkes, an anti-settlement activist. Area B was defined in the Oslo Accords as land under Palestinian civil control and Israeli military control.
According to Etkes, who has monitored the settlements for years, the takeover of land in Area B is a combination of unbridled thievery by settlers and impotence on the part of the Israeli authorities. He says the Israeli side has turned the West Bank into an area where the strongest dominates.
Etkes says an aerial photo shows that Israel has violated the agreement signed in Washington in September 1995. One clause states: “All civil powers and responsibilities, including planning and zoning, in Areas A and B set out in Annex III, will be transferred to and assumed by the Council [the Palestinian government] during the first phase of redeployment.”
Etkes found that the outpost of Amona, overlooking the settlement of Ofra in the northern West Bank, has spread hundreds of dunams into Area B. Roads have been built around the eastern side of the outpost on privately owned Palestinian land.
A few years ago settlers began developing the Ain al-Alya spring for tourism. This is south of Ofra, deep in Area B on land belonging to the village of Deir Dibwan. The settlers changed the name of the spring to Ein Erez.
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