Expert bashes UN’s ‘politicized’ West Bank numbers

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Claim that 300,000 Palestinians live in areas under full Israeli control is not quite true, says ex-official who drew the map
BY ELHANAN MILLER, TOI March 6, 2014,

Palestinian activists place a flag post in E1 east of Jerusalem, lying within area C of the West Bank

A United Nations report published Wednesday stated that the number of Palestinians living under full Israeli control in the West Bank is far higher than previously estimated, but an Israeli expert responsible for drawing the map in the mid-1990s said the UN was disingenuously inflating the numbers for political reasons.

The “Area C Vulnerability Profile” published by the UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in Occupied Palestinian Territories, known as OCHA, estimated that 297,900 Palestinians live in 532 residential areas in Area C, a subdivision of the West Bank with full Israeli security and administrative control. These areas, OCHA claimed, comprise “some of the most vulnerable communities in the West Bank in terms of humanitarian needs.”

The numbers cited by OCHA are more than six times higher than those acknowledged by politicians on Israel’s right, some of whom call on the government to annex area C. Jewish Home leader Naftali Bennet’s “stability initiative” recognizes just 48,000 Palestinians in Area C (compared to 350,000 Jewish Israelis), downplaying the demographic danger to Israel’s Jewish majority if the area — comprising 61 percent of the West Bank — is annexed.

Shaul Arieli, a retired colonel who mapped the boundaries of areas A, B and C in 1995 as head of the IDF’s Interim Agreement Administration in the West Bank, said OCHA’s numbers were misleading.

Technically speaking, nearly 300,000 Palestinians live within Area C, he said. But the vast majority of these civilians live in towns and villages located mostly within Area B, administratively controlled by the Palestinian Authority. Effectively, he noted, just 75,000 Palestinians live under full Israeli control in Area C, where all Israeli settlements are also located.

“It’s deception,” Arieli told The Times of Israel. “Practically speaking, this [data] is meaningless. What [OCHA] did is completely political … claiming that [Palestinians] need Area C because a quarter of the [West Bank] population lives there. It’s not serious.”

Arieli can hardly be accused of belonging to the annexationist right. A founding member of the Geneva Initiative, he is a passionate advocate of the two-state solution based on the 1967 lines.

Palestinians living in communities straddling the invisible line between Areas B and C and seeking building permits are not required to apply to the Israeli Civil Administration, which manages Palestinian civilian life in areas under Israeli control, Arieli said.

Retired IDF colonel and Geneva Initiative member Shaul Arieli (photo credit: courtesy/Shaul Arieli)
Retired IDF colonel and Geneva Initiative member Shaul Arieli (photo credit: courtesy/Shaul Arieli)

Israel only designated sections of Palestinian communities as Area C for security reasons, he said; for instance if they lay next to a road or a Jewish settlement. But practically speaking, this designation has no bearing on the lives of Palestinians living there.

“They …read more
Source: Israpundit

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