JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israel does not know how many Palestinians are living in Area C, the part of the West Bank under Israeli civil and military control, the Civil Administration told a Knesset committee.
The Civil Administration relies on figures provided by the Palestinian Bureau of Statistics, which does not break down the figures by area. In addition, the Palestinian figures could be inflated on order to maximize the amount of international aid the Palestinian Authority receives.
The Palestinian Bureau of Statistics listed some 2.9 million Palestinians listed as living in all of the West Bank, not including eastern Jerusalem, as of April 2016, the Civil Administration representative told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee’s sub group on Judea and Samaria. Most of them live in Areas A and B of the West Bank, which is under Palestinian civil control.
Estimates of the number of Palestinians living in Area C, which makes up about 60 percent of the West Bank, run the gamut from 75,000 to 300,000.
Moti Yogev, a member of the right-wing national-religious Jewish Home Party, is head of the subcommittee, Jewish Home has called for the annexation of Area C, which is where most Jewish settlements are located.
Agricultural Minister Uri Ariel of the Jewish Home Party, told The Times of Israel on Tuesday that the Jewish state “must aspire to the annexation of Area C” and expel the Palestinians who live there.
“We would remove a few thousand, who do not constitute a significant numerical factor,” he told the Times of Israel.
Ariel is the head of the far-right Tekuma faction in the Jewish Home party; Yogev also is a member of that faction. Ariel told the Times of Israel that he agrees that the Jewish Home party should leave the government coalition if Israel agrees to give land to the Palestinians during peace talks.
“There is no way that we remain in a government that takes territory from the Land of Israel and hands it to others — the word ‘return’ isn’t appropriate — it’s ours, not theirs,” he said. “We have been there [in the West Bank] for 49 years, 50 years — compared to 19 years in which the Jordanians [controlled it.] There can be no comparison. It’s absurd.”
Yogev ordered the Civil Administration to return in two weeks with more solid figures on the Palestinian population in the West Bank.