As the Obama administration was nearing its end, senior State Department official Frank Lowenstein produced a map that showed large sections of West Bank territory off-limits to Palestinian development and filled with Jewish settlements, outposts and areas between them, the New Yorker reported. It was quite different than the other maps Obama seen, where the Jewish settlements and outposts looked tiny compared to the areas where the Palestinians lived.
His team took a closer look: When the settlement zones, the illegal outposts and the other areas off limits to Palestinian development were grouped, they covered almost sixty percent of the West Bank.
Secretary of State John Kerry showed the maps to Barak Obama and his advisers. Ben Rhodes, one of Obama’s longest-serving advisers, said the President was shocked to see how “systematic” the Israelis had been at cutting off Palestinian population centers from one another through settlement growth, according to the New Yorker.
Alarmed by the maps, Obama decided to abstain on a U.N. Security Council resolution condemning the settlements, clearing the way for its passage.
Slightly over 60% of the West Bank is filled up by what the 1995 Oslo II Accords designates “Area C,” which is controlled administered by the Israeli government. Areas A and B are under the civil control of the Palestinian Authority.