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With the Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, set to unveil his strategy on July 1 for the controversial annexation of part of the West Bank, we revisit our report filmed in the region in 2018. Our reporters James André and Lyana Saleh travelled to Area C, to meet the Palestinians who live on lands coveted by Israeli settlers. This documentary, without voiceover commentary, plunges the viewer into the lives of those who face daily restrictions imposed by the occupation.
Area C, which represents more than 60 percent of the Palestinian Territories, is entirely under Israeli administrative and military control. This is the result of the Oslo Accords, signed in 1993, which were supposed to lead, five years later, to a sovereign Palestinian state. Twenty-seven years on, that is still not the case.
The Palestinian Authority cannot operate in Area C. Israeli authorities systematically refuse building permits to Palestinians and new structures are usually destroyed or confiscated. Area C is also where settlers grab land, jeopardising a future Palestinian state.
Residents of Area C live in a grey zone, caught between a helpless Palestinian Authority and an Israeli state that is hostile towards them. They are stateless. NGOs and international development agencies have taken over. Refugee camps are officially run by UNRWA, the UN’s dedicated agency. Meanwhile, in villages such as Jubbet-al-Dib, a myriad of Palestinian and international organisations assist the population.
Jubbet-al-Dib’s school is a good example. Built without a permit near the village, using EU funds, it was destroyed by the Israeli army in late August 2017, just days before the beginning of the school year. The schoolchildren had to attend lessons in a tent. The European Union complained and an Israeli court enforced a non-destruction decree. The villagers constructed a makeshift building overnight, but the Israeli authorities will not tolerate any modifications or improvements, such as fixing the roof.
Colonisation and the treatment of the Palestinian population in Area C raises the question of the viability of a Palestinian state. Today, many Palestinians have lost faith in the possibility of a “two-state solution”.