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West Bank Areas
 in the
Oslo II Accord

Complicated Borders:
Complex as ABC

Knowing Your ABC:
a Primer to Understand
Different Areas
Judea and Samaria

Apartheid in
Judea and Samaria, Enforced
by the PA
Supported by Oslo


The Oslo II Accord divided the Israeli-occupied West Bank into three administrative divisions: Areas A, B and C. The distinct areas were given different statuses, according to their governance pending a final status accord: Area A is exclusively administered by the Palestinian Authority; Area B is administered by both the Palestinian Authority and Israel; and Area C, which contains the Israeli settlements, is administered by Israel. Areas A and B were chosen in such a way as to just contain Palestinians, by drawing lines around Palestinian population centers at the time the Agreement was signed; all areas surrounding Areas A and B were defined as Area C.[1]

Area A comprises approximately 18% of the West Bank and Area B about 22%, together home to some 2.8 million Palestinians.[2] As of 2015, Area C is home to 150,000 Palestinians[3] in 532 residential areas. It is also home to 389,250 Israelis,[4] in 135 settlements, as well as 100 outposts unrecognized by the Israeli government. Area C forms a contiguous territory, administered via the Judea and Samaria Area administration. In contrast, under the Oslo Accords Areas A and B were subdivided into 165 separate units of land that have no territorial contiguity.[1]


Huffington Post ByRick Steves, Contributor

Israel has granted a certain amount of autonomy to the Palestinians, but with significant restrictions. The West Bank of the Jordan River is divided into pockets of land classified into three zones: Areas A, B, and C. The land in Area A, while a relatively small percentage of the geographic area, contains most of the Palestinian cities and towns, and is free -- it's entirely controlled by the Palestinian Authority. The parts designated as Area B are mostly filled with infrastructure surrounding and connecting the islands of autonomy which combine to make Area A. Area B is under Palestine civil authority but is largely off-limits to Palestinian security forces. It's mostly controlled by the Israeli military and seems to be designed so that if there's trouble in any island of Area A -- for example a terrorist attack emanating from that community -- that community can be locked down and isolated in a snap by Israeli troops shutting down Area B. By shutting down Area B, the vast majority of the Palestinian population is bottled up in isolated urban islands throughout the West Bank. Area C, holding most of the West Bank's uninhabited land, is under complete Israeli authority. While Area C is kind of a part of Palestine, there can be no Palestinian building in Area C without a permit from the Israeli Civil Administration -- and that's usually difficult to get. A problem with Area B is that, since Palestinian security forces can't really work there and Israel doesn't care to enforce Palestinian laws, it tends to be a more lawless place...and also serves as a convenient garbage dump.

Frustrating as the restrictions are, it is important to remember what an historic accomplishment it is that the land in Area A is free and self-ruled, and has been since 1994.

I was told that the First Intifada led to the Oslo Accords, which established Areas A, B, and C as a transitional arrangement scheduled to be phased out in five years. When the deadlines were ignored, that lead to the Second Intifada (more violent than the first). And all that bloodshed meant the zone system became permanent, and the wall-and-settlement program was implemented.

Area C also includes Israeli infrastructure -- like this fine highway -- which cuts through the West Bank connecting Jewish settlements in Palestine with Israel proper. Palestinian license plates are green and Israeli plates are yellow. When times are good all cars are allowed. In troubled times, traffic is yellow plates only.

For Palestinians, living within the strict confines imposed by Israel after the Second Intifada can be frustrating. Both established and "flying" (temporary) checkpoints can make traveling from one Area A community to another very difficult. (Although during my visit, checkpoints seemed unmanned, and traffic was passing through without stopping.) For security reasons, Israel doesn't allow Google to map the area. There is no reliable mail service between the West Bank and the rest of the world (many Palestinians keep an address with a friend in Jerusalem to work around this -- but forget about getting any purchases delivered within Palestine).

Many hilltops in the West Bank are now covered with new, planned Israeli communities called "settlements." They are connected to Israel by secure, well-built roads.

While most young people and professionals have smartphones here, there's no 3G allowed in Palestine. As smartphones need an Internet connection to fully function, nearly every restaurant and café provides free Wi-Fi. Israeli settlements buried deep within the West Bank have 3G, so some Palestinians mooch off of this by getting an Israeli SIM card.

A big bold red sign marks the point where any road in Area B passes into Area A. It declares that passing this point is dangerous and that it is illegal for any Israeli citizen to do so. My hunch is that Israel's concerned its citizens may be kidnapped by Palestinian extremists and then held for ransom in an attempt to negotiate the release of Palestinians detained in Israeli prisons. With this clear warning, Israel can, in good conscience, have a policy of not negotiating for hostages. Many believe a sad by-product of this policy is that it keeps people fearful and separated, and makes people-to-people connections more difficult between the two sides. I get the sense that the majority of people on both sides would like better relations. Walls and checkpoints are hurdles for this.


Even avid followers of Israel’s political scene might be confused over what areas A, B and C mean more than 20 years after they came into existence.

Jerusalem Post, Hillel Frisch, April 23, 2016

Knowing one’s ABCs, everyone would agree, is indispensable to attaining literacy and a gateway to Western literature and culture.

Similarly, knowing the difference between areas A, B and C in Judea and Samaria and the ramifications thereof is indispensable to understanding the politics and violence that affects many of us on an almost daily basis.

Take any social or political activity of consequence for either Israelis or Palestinians, from agriculture to construction to employment, settlement and of course security and taxation, and the importance of these designations is bound to come up.

Why even avid followers of Israel’s political scene might be confused over what areas A, B and C mean more than 20 years after they came into existence probably has to do with the fact that they emerged in legal documents related to the Oslo negotiations – especially the interim agreement between Israel and the PLO signed in September 1995 known as the Oslo II Accord, which extended the jurisdiction of the newly formed Palestinian Authority to the major towns in Judea and Samaria. The PA had secured jurisdiction over most of Gaza and Jericho a year-and-a-half earlier.

Legal documents are typically only read by the professionals, in this case, officials, diplomats and senior military officers.

Yet one hardly has to be either to understand the basic differences between these three types of jurisdiction or the very important fact that they were intended to have meaning for only five or six years until a final settlement to the Palestinian issue was supposed to be achieved.

The date for that auspicious occasion, then-US president Bill Clinton, then-prime minister Yitzhak Rabin and then-PLO leader Yasser Arafat agreed, was to take place no later than five years from the establishment of the PA in May 1994, that is to say, in 1999.

Seventeen years later, a final agreement seems as distant as ever. This also means that the differences between the legal distinctions of areas A, B and C and realities on the ground have grown over the years. Yet, though they have grown, Israel, the PA, the United States and most if not all of the international community still regard these legal distinctions and the documents in which they were inscribed as binding, only to be supplanted by the signing of a final agreement.

The following primer tries to make sense of these differences and their ramifications on issues such as settlements, security and the prospects for a peaceful resolution of the Palestinian issue.


The differences between areas A, B and C, all pertaining to Judea and Samaria, are relatively simple.

Area A is the space in which the PA has political and military jurisdiction over its residents – all of whom are Arab.

This includes all of the major towns and their immediate environs – with the partial exception of Jewish Hebron, which came under exclusive Israeli control in the 1997 Hebron protocol between Israel and the PLO. This area comprises approximately 18 percent of Judea and Samaria’s land mass.

According to the Oslo Accords, the PA was never given jurisdiction over Israeli citizens and foreign nationals.

Israeli citizens have the right to enter and pass through Area A unmolested, provided that they are not involved in illicit activity, in which case the PA can only temporarily apprehend them until they are transferred to the Israeli authorities. Joint Israeli-PA patrols were intended to handle these cases.

THE NEXT letter in the alphabet signified less built-up areas, many of which shared their space with settlements created in the massive settlement drive in the 1980s launched by the Likud government. Area B comprises approximately 22% of Judea and Samaria.

In Area B, Israel and the PA share jurisdiction.

Israel enjoys exclusive jurisdiction over the Jewish inhabitants and exclusive authority over security for both its Arab and Jewish inhabitants. The PA has political, administrative and police jurisdiction over the Arab inhabitants. They are subject to its laws, pay the necessary taxes and benefit from the same public services the PA provides in Area A.

Strictly speaking, only the IDF and the Israel Police can make arrests in these areas.

MOST OF geographic Judea and Samaria (60% of the area) is designated Area C, over which Israel has exclusive jurisdiction both administratively and in security matters.

Area C’s distinguishing characteristic is that it is sparsely populated – by Arab or Jewish inhabitants.

Most of this area lies east of the populated mountain spine from Jenin in the north to Hebron in the south. The eastern slopes descending and including the Jordan Valley are characterized by harsh climate and low to no rainfall. The Jordan Valley, the South Hebron Hills and the area in the vicinity of Ma’aleh Adumim – from east of Mount Scopus to Jericho – are by far the most politically contested spaces in Area C, due to both Jewish settlement and Israeli security concerns.

IT IS clear that the alphabetic division of the area reflected Israeli geostrategic logic more than Palestinian interests and that Israel had the upper hand in the negotiation process.

The division was supposed to facilitate Israeli security control, while relieving Israel of the burden of caring for the area’s Arab inhabitants.

Before signing off on the formal division into areas A, B and C, it is important to note what was left out of the alphabet – the letter “J” for Jerusalem. The issue of Jerusalem in the relevant legal documents was mentioned only as one of five crucial issues that were to be resolved in the final talks.

This meant that Jerusalem remained formally under exclusive Israeli jurisdiction.

Between theory and reality Israel’s upper hand in the negotiation process was undermined by its policy on the ground in the six years between the emergence of the PA and the outbreak of the second intifada. This policy is highlighted by the policy of the Defense Ministry, the IDF and the government to buy quiet by turning a blind eye to PA encroachment with the encouragement of many Western governments.

The activities of Orient House, the shadow east Jerusalem municipality headed by Faisal Husseini, were probably the most striking deviation from the strategic logic of the Oslo agreements.

HUSSEINI, ALTHOUGH dubbed a “peace advocate,” was, in fact, one of the major and more extreme Fatah leaders with clout behind him up until his death in 2000.

Palestinian security agents soon penetrated east Jerusalem and often kidnapped Arabs who were suspected of being informers, or for expressing opposition to Arafat, or even for penal matters.

Just as these infringements occurred in Jerusalem, they also occurred in Areas B and C. The fear they created must have made it more difficult to gather intelligence, the bloody ramifications for which the Israeli public paid dearly in the first two years of the second intifada, when highly sophisticated squads of up to 12 terrorists belonging to Hamas, Islamic Jihad and Fatah expertly planned – undetected – large suicide bombings over an extended period of time.

MEANWHILE, THE PA achieved effective sovereignty over Area A, over which the Israeli authorities had the right to “hot pursuit,” and Israeli citizens the right to do business and pass through.

Soon after the signing of the 1993 accord, settlers and most Israelis were barred from entering Area A after a few Beit El and Ofra inhabitants endangered their lives in attempting to exercise their right. Area A also became off limits to the IDF.

As a result sanctuaries of terrorism appeared in Arab towns such as Nablus, Jenin, Tulkarm and Bethlehem.

So ingrained did the idea of PA sovereignty become, that when the IDF entered Gaza in April 2001, for the first time since the signing of Oslo II, the US secretary of state assailed Israel for the operation as “excessive and disproportionate,” demanding that Israel withdraw its forces – a demand with which Israel quickly complied.

Tragically, for the 1,050 victims of Palestinian terrorism and their families, while Israeli sovereignty was being violated in Jerusalem, Israel effectively lost its right to prevent terrorism in Area A between 1996 and 2002.


It was only after 9/11 and Iranian complicity in the massive shipment of arms to the PA, exposed through the interception and takeover of the boat Karin-A in February 2002, that the US gave the green light for Israeli penetration of Area A.

The suicide attack at a 2002 Passover Seder held in the Park Hotel that killed 33 Israelis – including many Holocaust survivors – provided the resolve to switch gears from a policy of essentially absorbing casualties to a major frontal assault.

At the end of March 2002, Israel launched Operation Defensive Shield, reconquered all the major Arab towns in Judea and Samaria, and essentially changed areas designated A to the status of B, where the IDF became responsible for security. Nothing characterized that change more than the preventive arrests carried out by the IDF almost on a daily basis ever since.

The numbers of those arrested is mind-boggling by Western standards.

In 2007, IDF forces, typically at night, arrested 7,000 Arabs. The arrests declined to half that number in 2012, but have increased since with the reemergence of terrorism on a large scale.

In 2015, the numbers of those arrested rose once again to 6,000, especially during the months that coincided with the present wave of violence.

To give a sense of proportion, a senior security official in the British Home Office announced alarmingly that the authorities arrested 281 terrorist suspects in Great Britain in 2014.

IDF and Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) forays into PA territory to make preventive arrests have been the most effective means by far in reducing terrorism (at least until the present wave of “own-initative” terrorism). Thus, terrorism declined by a greater percentage before the erection of the security barrier than after it.

The PA and the EU in Area C

Israel has not been alone in changing the actual status quo in the alphabetic division of Judea and Samaria.

Whereas Israel reduced PA control in Area A in its fight against terrorism, the PA and the EU, with financial support from Arab states such as Qatar and Kuwait, have in the past decade sought to actively encroach on Israeli rule in Area C, where according to the accords, Israel has exclusive administrative and security control.

The major arena in this intense yet quiet war extends from Anata (bordering the light rail depot on the northern side of the Jerusalem-Jericho highway) to Abu Dis and Eizariya – 3 km. to the south – and land on both sides of the highway parallel to Ma’aleh Adumim all the way down to Jericho.

THE PA and EU’s major objective and its weapon are not only clear but one and the same: to create continuous Arab settlement from the south to the north of the West Bank.

Israel would like to prevent that contiguity by building on E-1, the area that would create continuous settlement from Ma’aleh Adumim to Jerusalem.

But, as Israeli building dwindles into insignificance under the stern gaze of Uncle Sam and a frightened Israeli prime minister, the PA, with the help of the EU, has succeeded in housing 120,000 Palestinians in a space no larger than 9 This number is more than double the number of inhabitants of Ma’aleh Adumim and the other Israeli localities in the area extending to Jericho.

One hundred and twenty thousand inhabitants? Where do they all live? The answer can be found in Waze, but you probably don’t need it. Reach the French Hill junction, continue on Route 60 to Jericho, and just 1 km. from the junction look north, literally meters away from the security barrier.

Lo and behold, you’ll find an urban jungle so dense it makes Bat Yam look like New York’s Central Park.

Welcome to Ras Khamis and Ras Shahada, which block from view the village of Anata, home to the prophet Jeremiah from Anatot. According to Palestinian media, Nasrin Alian, an attorney with the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, 120,000 inhabitants live in this urban monstrosity alone, all of which was created since 2007.

Umm Ishak al-Kaluti, in the same media site, confirms that 10 years ago she owned one of the few homes on this once barren hill.

Most of the area is within the official municipal line and is thus formally under Israeli sovereignty; the remainder is Area C, which Israel presumably controls.

Yet, hundreds of six-to-10-story apartment buildings were built there, all of which are illegal, as a senior officer in the Border Police in charge of security in the area confirmed.

THIS OFFICER and Jamil Sanduqa, head of the makeshift local council of Ras Khamis, supported by the PA and the EU, would both agree, despite the quiet war, that these neighborhoods are a human disaster.

Sanduqa characterizes living there as “life imprisonment.”

The only road that traverses this urban nightmare is two lanes wide. It is continuously clogged all the way to the 24-hour outpost manned by the Border Police which allows passage into Jerusalem.

Fire trucks would find it impossible to reach the scene in the event of even a small emergency such as fire from an electric short circuit or an explosion of gas balloons, most of which are illegally placed – let alone an earthquake.

Garbage burns in the open with devastating health effects on the inhabitants and probably on the inhabitants of French Hill as well. This is also true of A-Zaim, a smaller version of Ras al-Khamis just two kilometers south, which is designated as being in Area B.

In A-Zaim, illegal building is taking place toward the highway in violation of international conventions that stipulate mandatory distances between the building line and major arteries of traffic.

One must assume that the Israeli officials in Beit El responsible for seeing that the PA operates within legal confines have very rosy glasses. Otherwise, how can one explain that these illegal buildings, which can easily become ideal shooting sites for terrorist snipers, have not been dismantled?

FROM MA’ALEH Adumim onward, the EU has identified Beduin makeshift encampments as the chief weapon for transforming Area C into the would-be Palestinian state.

Were EU officials to allow such encampments in their home states, they would find themselves behind bars for abetting housing that is in contravention of civic ordinances in third-world states, let alone states that comprise the EU.

These fast-growing encampments are also too close to a major highway, bereft of sewage systems and organized garbage disposal.

The Israeli authorities have leveled an area just south of Abu Dis that would provide all these amenities, yet the EU continues to abet this inhuman settlement.

Obviously, the EU believes that any illegal means justify the end of creating a Palestinian state. The story is being repeated in the Southern Hebron Hills.


It turns out then, that a document written and signed in 1995 that created areas A, B and C, if hardly dramatic in its own right, sets the stage for dramatic, often painful events.

It directly relates to current affairs such as the recent proposal made by IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Gadi Eisenkot to give back to the PA sole security control over Area A.

Will Israel repeat the mistake of providing Hamas and Islamic Jihad with sanctuaries from which to launch not only attacks with makeshift weapons, as in the current wave of violence, but also massive suicide bombings, as in the second intifada?

The same can be said of the lenience Israel is showing in the face of massive illegal building abetted by the EU and some other Arab states. Israel then, might be repeating the same mistake it made between 1996 and 2002 when it allowed the PA to encroach on areas B and C, for which it paid dearly in the second intifada.

The writer is a senior research associate at the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies. He can be reached at


The Times of Israel, Fred Maroun, March 19, 2018

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In the Israel-Arab conflict, no issue is more controversial than the Jewish settlements in Judea and Samaria. Even the name of the place is controversial since Jordan managed to rename it “The West Bank” and that is what most people call it now. That change in name conveniently papers over the fact that this part of the Middle East has 3000 years of Jewish history and that it was ethnically cleansed of Jews by Arabs armies in the 1948 Arab-Israel war.

Israel is accused of instituting a system of apartheid in Judea and Samaria, but is there really apartheid in Judea and Samaria? I spoke with several people who live or visited Judea and Samaria, including David Ha’ivri, a long-time Jewish resident, and my conclusion is that yes, there is undoubtedly a form of apartheid in Judea and Samaria, but perhaps not what most people would expect.

While in Israel all ethnicities have equal rights, such is not the case in Judea and Samaria. In Judea and Samaria, there is one group that is consistently and extensively discriminated against on the basis of their ethnicity, and that group is the Jewish people. This form of discrimination is enforced by the Palestinian Authority, and it is supported by the Israeli government under the Oslo accords.

The following table summarizes the restrictions placed in Judea and Samaria on three groups depending on the area. Areas A, B, and C were created as a result of the Oslo accords.

(1) Israel does not guarantee protection to Jews who choose to enter area A, and the Palestinian Authority has full authority. If Israeli Jews enter area A, they are at high risk of being attacked by Palestinians. If the PA police finds Jews in area A, it hands them over to the Israeli police who can then charge them with a criminal offense.

(2) Some roads in area B can be used by Israeli Jews to travel from one part of area C to another, but they are not permitted to enter the rest of area B.

(3) Israeli Jews are allowed to live in area C but only in the parts designated as Jewish communities.

(4) Israeli Jews can cultivate land but only within Jewish communities. Also, if Jews cultivate land that is not owned by anyone, they can never gain ownership of the land whereas Arabs who cultivate non-owned land in area C can gain ownership after 10 years.

(5) In theory under the Oslo accords, the rights of all Israelis are the same in Judea and Samaria; however, the PA chooses to not enforce the same restrictions on Israeli Arabs as it does on Israeli Jews. The PA has full authority in area A, and the authority is shared with Israel in area B. Few Israeli Arabs live within Jewish communities in area C, but some do.

(6) Non-Israeli Arabs can live anywhere in area C except within the designated Jewish communities. Area C is the largest of the three areas, but the Jewish communities constitute a tiny fraction of area C. Arabs, just like Jews in area C, must obtain permits in order to build residences.

(7) Non-Israeli Arabs can visit anywhere in area C, including Jewish communities, but most Jewish communities require them to first obtain a security pass. Many non-Israeli Arabs work in Jewish communities, and those jobs typically offer far better pay and benefits than jobs in non-Israeli-owned businesses.

If the table is collapsed to eliminate the citizenship and to show only the ethnicity, the discrimination against Jews is even starker.

Knowing the Arab world, however, the apartheid situation of Judea and Samaria is not surprising. While in Israel Jews and Arabs have the same rights, in the Arab world, all Jews were chased away and therefore have nothing left, let alone rights.

Judea and Samaria today is the result of taking a land that the Arabs had ethnically cleansed of Jews, and timidly injecting some Jewish presence back into it. It does not prevent Arabs from growing and prospering on that land if they so wish. The only severe restrictions that exist are imposed on Jews, not Arabs. Judea and Samaria today reflects much more the Arab world that has no place for Jews than it reflects the Israeli values of equal rights that Jews have infused into Israel.


I live in Kfar Tapuach in area C with my wife and eight children. Seven of them were born here in Judea and Samaria. We made our life here. We planted olive trees, we planted vineyards, and we make wine. We feel that we are fulfilling the words of the prophets. Jeremiah said to the children of Israel who were being exiled from the land, “again you will plant vineyards in the mountains of Samaria”. There are so many things that are special and unique here. Taking part of the gathering of the nations of Israel after 2000 years of exile and lacking sovereignty. In the last 150 years, we have seen the reawakening of the Jewish people and the return to the land of Israel, and it’s an amazing experience to see Jewish people of all colors, and from many backgrounds, returning from Yemen, Scandinavia, Poland, Morocco, all gathering together in one synagogue reading from the same prayer book the same words, including the words of the prophets who said that we would return and rebuild the villages and cities.

Judea and Samaria, the biblical heartland of Israel, is the very essence and core of Zionism, the Jewish national movement of return, the national vow after 2000 years of exile and lack of sovereignty. Jews prayed to God, and we taught our children that one day we would return to our land and rebuild our cities and our villages. The core of our existence on the land of Israel was based on the mountaintop and the mountain region of Judea and Samaria. Our number motivation to live here is our historical connection to the land. Of course, there are other values that motivate people, such standard of living. Typically, in Judea and Samaria there is a very good Jewish education system. Villages tend to be small and many people like that atmosphere. Various communities have their own features, such as some religious communities where all residents observe some level of Jewish laws. Some of the members of the communities are farmers, but many work in a variety of fields, such as education, high-tech, and so on.

Area C

Area C is under the authority of the IDF, i.e., Israel’s ministry of defense. Jews can live in designated Jewish communities in area C; we cannot live in area C in a place not designated as a Jewish community. Even within Israel’s green line, Jews are not typically able to move into non-Jewish areas because they are not welcome there. Israeli Arabs have the same rights as Jews in area C. Non-Israeli Arabs have freedom of movement within all of Judea and Samaria, including area C; the only exception is that in most Jewish communities, they need a security pass in order to enter (Israeli Arabs do not need such passes). Thousands of non-Israeli Arabs work in businesses such as factories in area C.

A visit at an Israeli owned factory in Barkan, where Jews and Arabs work together and enjoy the same benefits. (photograph courtesy of David Ha’ivri)

A visit at an Israeli owned factory in Barkan, where Jews and Arabs work together and enjoy the same benefits. (photograph courtesy of David Ha’ivri)

Israeli citizens (Jewish or Arab) are obligated to follow all of Israeli’s laws, including paying taxes to Israel. If Israeli citizens break the law, they are answerable to the Israeli justice system, including the police, same as anywhere else in Israel. Israeli citizens vote in Israeli elections. Typically, Israeli Arabs do not live anywhere in Judea and Samaria although there are exceptions, but many work in area C. Many Israeli Arabs go to Ariel University which is located in the Jewish community of Ariel in Judea and Samaria. Non-Israeli Arabs who live in area C pay their taxes to the PA.

In most cases, interactions between Jews and non-Jews are limited to work settings, but those interactions are generally very positive and friendly. Non-Israeli Arabs who work in Jewish communities in area C generally receive much better wages, benefits, and workplace safety than they do in Arab businesses in the rest of Judea and Samaria. Some of the shopping centers in Jewish communities receive many non-Israeli Arab shoppers. There are also many non-Israeli Arab-owned shops in area C that receive Jewish shoppers. Terrorist incidents are rare but are of course very disturbing when they occur. Less formal interactions also occur between Jews and non-Jews in area C and they are typically positive, but they are relatively infrequent.

Area B

Area B has an overlapping of responsibilities; Israel is responsible for security, but the PA is responsible for all of the local government issues, such as building codes, business permits, and any municipal services. There are no Jewish communities in area B. Although Jews are not strictly forbidden from entering (unlike area A which is forbidden by Israeli law), Jews are generally not allowed to enter (there are often large signs warning Jews not to enter), and they put their lives at risk if they do. There are however main roads in area B that Jewish residents of area C can travel on to get from one Jewish community of area C to another.

Israeli Jews and Arabs who purchase items in area B would pay sales taxes to the PA. Non-Israeli Arabs who live in area B pay their taxes to the PA even though their security is provided by Israel. Non-Israeli Arabs who live in area B pay their taxes to the PA.

Area A

Area A is off limits to Jewish people; that was not the case before the Oslo accords. This area is completely controlled by the PA. Non-Israeli Arabs can enter area A, but Israelis (Jewish or Arab) are not allowed to enter because Israel cannot ensure their security. Israeli Arabs generally enter area A without problems but can sometimes have problems. Small numbers of Jewish left-wing activists take the risk of entering area A and usually suffer no consequences, but the PA police normally arrests Jews who enter area A and hand them over to the Israeli police who can lay charges against them.

Judea and Samaria, the Jewish heartland

My last name means “The Hebrew”, which is why my radio podcast is named “The Hebrew in the Heartland”. Our national movement dates back to Biblical times. We read in the Bible that Abraham who lived in the north in the area now known as Iraq was called by God to a land that God would show him. Abraham went and arrived in Shechem which is today Nablus. So, the first connection of the Jewish people to the land of Israel was right here where I live. Then all the other Biblical events in the five books of Moses all occurred in areas here in Judea and Samaria. Road 60, the highway of the Bible, connects several Biblical locations: Shechem, Shiloh, Beit-El, Jerusalem, Bethlehem, Hevron, and Bersheva. Bersheva is in the Negev; it is the only one of these places that is outside of Judea and Samaria. This where our fathers walked. This is where our history began.

Before the Oslo accords, I drove to Shechem (aka Nablus) which is ten minutes north of my home and has a licensing department; it is much closer for me than going to Petach Tikvah, a city to the east of Tel Aviv.

What’s even more disturbing is that Jewish people no longer have free access to Jewish holy places that are located in area A and even some in area B. For instance, Joseph’s Tomb which is located in Shechem is a very significant biblical location where Jewish people traditionally went to study Torah, to pray, and to have religious family events. For example, it was customary for Jews in this region to hold a family event at Joseph’s Tomb for the circumcision (Brit Milah) which takes place on the 8th day of a boy’s life. I had these ceremonies at Joseph’s Tomb for my own two sons who were born before the Oslo accords.

Now there are arranged trips in the middle of the night for Jewish people once a month to visit Joseph’s Tomb. The IDF provides security. Only a limited number of people can go, and they must board a special armored bus. The Jewish visitors must have left before morning. As a result of these restrictions and the high demand for Jews to visit, each individual can visit only for about 15 minutes at a time.

One important thing to understand is that areas A, B, and C are not cleanly separated on the map. Instead, they consist of many small patches that look somewhat like a checkered board. Because Israeli security is only provided in area C and for some matters in area B, Jews are sometimes deprived of protection. For example, my father-in-law once had 400 goats stolen by thieves who came from area A. The thieves loaded the goats in four trucks in the middle of the night and took them to area A. My father-in-law called the Israeli police, but they said that they could do nothing because they have no jurisdiction in the area to which the goats were taken. Eventually 20 out of the 400 goats were found somehow and returned to my father-in-law.


I’d like to add some points with regard to agriculture, farming, and land rights in Judea and Samaria. In the past 100 years, this land changed hands four times: The Ottoman Empire (until 1920), the British Mandate (1920 to 1948), Jordan (1948 to 1967), and Israel since 1967. There are laws from each one of these different regimes that still apply while some laws no longer apply, also some laws apply only to non-Israeli Arabs and some laws apply only to Israelis (Jews and Arabs). It can be very confusing. Often the image projected in the media is that the laws in Judea and Samaria are only unfair to non-Israeli Arabs, but in reality, there also laws that are unfair to Jews, and land rights are one example. For instance, in my particular situation, I planted 500 olive trees on land next to my community of Kfar Tapuach. That land did not belong to any individual and was not declared state-owned land (if the land was state-owned, there is a process to follow to use the land). If I was a non-Israeli Arab, after using the land for 10 years, I could register the land as my own property though an Ottoman and Jordanian law. But because I am Israeli, there is no way for me to register this land in my name even though I have been cultivating it for 25 years with no objection from any individual or government.

Now if the government decides to declare this unowned land as state land, they can just kick me out, uproot my trees, and owe me no compensation. If I were a non-Israeli Arab, a few years of cultivating a parcel of land in Judea and Samaria would provide me with a legal claim that would be respected in Israeli courts. Even if a non-Israeli Arab would plant trees in listed state own land without being noticed, the government would have a very difficult time reversing the process, and that person would win de-facto ownership.


I live in Sha’are Tikva which is not very different from the rest of Israel. There is no checkpoint to get to my community, although there is one just beyond my exit off the highway. We are very close to the green line and only about 25 minutes without traffic to Tel Aviv. The person who cleans my house is a lovely Israeli Arab woman who lives in Kfar Qsem which is very close to us but on the other side of the green line. In fact, many businesses in Kfar Qsem are owned or partnered with the Yishuv right next to us. She has worked for my neighbor for over 15 years.

The biggest difference between living here versus within the green line is that I drive by a walled Arab Palestinian village and see first-hand every day how segregated life is here. The village does not have any demonstrations that friends of mine who live in Chashmonaim have every Friday with stink bombs and a general ruckus.

I hear from older residents that we have historically had good relations with the Arab village, so much so that people from our Yishuv sued Israel to try to get them to not build the wall. I have not done research to verify that myself. Another rumor is that the relations are so good because for some reason from 1948 to 1967 Arabs were not allowed to live in their village and Israel coming in let them return to the village. Again, no research of my own to verify.

We moved here because we felt that our absorption into Israel would be easier if we could be near family (we are related to three families on this Yishuv).  We rent and I felt that four more Jews would not make or break any peace process. I am very middle-of-the-road politically. Neither the concept of giving back land nor the concept of Greater Israel is really working to solve the conflict.

In terms of shopping, there is a small shopping center here and in two Yishuv very close to me, and when I cannot find something here, I go into a town very close to me within the green line called Rosh Haayin.

One more humorous thing. There are a few donkeys owned by someone in the Arab village that very occasionally get loose and find their way to our Yishuv.  Wall or no wall, it is just part of life here.  They roam around for a little while and then I do not see them again.


Day-to-day life where I live is generally pastoral and ordinary. For most people, that’s hard to believe, but that’s the case. We wake up, go to work, come home, etc. Even though I live somewhat deep into Samaria, it is generally very quiet here, although like everywhere else, during the second Intifada and at other times, that wasn’t the case.

Non-Israeli Arabs build the houses here, as they always have, but since I’m not in construction, I have no interaction with them. There have been issues on the road, particularly with one village north of here. People I know were murdered. I was shot at. Molotov cocktails, rocks, gas balloons were thrown on the road. But generally, it is quiet and there are no issues. In our community, you can walk the streets day or night with no fear, and same with driving to Jerusalem or Tel Aviv, or almost anywhere else.

The place where there are real interactions between Jews and Arabs is at the Rami Levy supermarket in Shaar Binyamin. We work together and shop together there. Jewish and Arab men ask each other what shampoo to buy for their wives because none of us have a clue. Regulars all say hi to the cashiers and other workers because we see each other weekly. The guy at the cheese counter knows what I want before I open my mouth.

A few weeks ago, I heard an Arab mother speaking with her daughter (probably 4 years old) in English with no accent. My guess is that they were from Deir Dibwan, where most of the people normally live in the US but come here for the summer and other occasions. There are many towns like that around here although that’s not a widely known fact.

In general, Jews and Arabs live parallel but separate lives. We aren’t allowed in their areas where they want nothing to do with us. They work in our communities but behind fenced-off areas (building is dangerous in general, plus there have been cases of terror from workers). We drive the same roads (except the roads through their areas, A and B, where we aren’t allowed), but they pick up their hitchhikers and we pick up ours.

A few years ago, I wanted to jointly market olive oil with Arabs from Taybeh, the only 100% Christian village in Judea, Samaria, and Gaza. I spoke with a Franciscans who had been working there for years and whom I met through Gary Krupp and Pave The Way Foundation. The priest loved the idea and said that he would discuss it with people in Taybeh. In the meantime, I spoke with a neighbor of mine who grows olives, and he loved the idea as well. From our perspective, it would be fantastic, not only from a marketing perspective, and not only from a PR perspective, but also for building a connection with people who live just a few minutes away but still in another world. Unfortunately, the other side said no. For them, it would be a lose-lose proposition: Their Muslim neighbors would see them as traitors (there were riots against the Christians in 2005 when a Christian from Taybeh had a relationship with a Muslim woman from Deir Jerrir), and truth be told, I think that they themselves see us as enemies with whom peace can’t be made.

De facto, there is peace, or rather, an absence of war; but not more. I don’t see any changes to that in the near future. We’re not leaving or disappearing, and the other side isn’t coming to terms with that. So it will continue like this for the foreseeable future: Generally, it is peaceful, but I’m not beating my Glock into a plowshare just yet.

Note: The following are roads in Judea and Samaria, areas A and B, on which Jews are not allowed to travel (of course, Jews are not allowed anywhere in area A).  (List is shown on web site)