The French government has committed to supporting Palestinian agricultural development and water infrastructure in “Area C” of the occupied West Bank, signing two agreements worth 20 million euros (about $22 million), reported Al-Monitor.
The French Development Agency (AFD) and the Palestinian Authority (PA) signed the agreements earlier this month in PA Prime Minister Mohammed Shtayyeh’s office in Ramallah.
“France’s support for a number of communities and villages in Area C is at the heart of the government’s work strategy aimed at stabilising these areas as an integral part of the Palestinian territories,” said the prime minister at the time.
Under the Oslo Accords signed in the 1990s, so-called Area C of the West Bank – around 60 per cent of the territory – is under full Israeli “security” and civil control. Israeli occupation authorities almost entirely prevent Palestinian construction and development in Area C, while settlements thrive.
According to the report, the first agreement “provides 10 million euros [$11 million] to support infrastructure and road construction in 19 Palestinian communities in Area C of Salfit in the central West Bank, and Tubas and al-Jiftlik in the northern West Bank.”
Meanwhile, “the other agreement aims to develop water networks in the Aboud area and the villages in western Ramallah governorate, with a value of 10 million euros.”
Walid Assaf, head of the PLO Colonisation and Wall Resistance Commission, told Al-Monitor that “the purpose of these agreements is to consolidate the Palestinian presence in Area C and prevent Israel from annexing it, as it is an integral part of the Palestinian state based on the 1967 borders.”
“The Palestinian government had to intervene to preserve Palestinian land and to help the Palestinians there, while Israel is pushing the Palestinian population to immigrate to the PA-controlled Area A and Area B by not allowing them to build in Area C,” he added.
Ahmed Ghawanmeh, head of the village council of Al-Jiftlik, said that “the first agreement, which includes the construction and rehabilitation of roads for Palestinian communities in Area C of the cities of Salfit and Tubas and the town of Al-Jiftlik, will enable farmers and their agricultural vehicles to reach their agricultural lands, and this will help achieve an agricultural renaissance in the area.”
“The Israeli authorities demolished four houses in the town during the past year and distributed notices to demolish a dozen others because they were built without a permit,” Ghawanmeh noted.