Area C and Home Demolitions under Oslo
Under the Oslo Accords, the West Bank was separated into three areas of jurisdiction: Area A, B, and C. Um al-Khair is located on Area C, which encompasses 61% of the West Bank and is under full Israeli civil and security control. Therefore, permission to build on the land must be granted by the Israeli Civil Administration. Building permits are few and far between for Palestinians in Area C. According to B’Tselem, Israel has designated 70% of Area C (42% of the West Bank) to be state land, survey land, firing zones, nature reserves, national parks, and settlements. Meanwhile, they have built and preserved the apartheid wall, essentially annexing large swaths of Palestinian land behind the green line to Israel, thus limiting the opportunity for development of Palestinians lands.
In addition, the odds of being granted a building permit on the other 30% of Area C–the parts that remain in some way for development–is unlikely. Between 2010 and 2014 only 33 out of 2,020 (1.5%) were granted, with only 1 of those approvals occurring in 2014. This artificial scarcity of permits by the Israeli Civil Administration leaves many Palestinians with no choice but to build without a permit if they want a roof over their family’s heads, exposing them to the risk of stop-work orders and demolitions.
These land seizures are illegal under international law, such as under Article 49, alongside Article 2 and Article 6 of the Fourth Geneva Convention and under Article 12 of the International Covenant of Civil and Political Rights. Israel has ratified the Geneva Conventions as well as the International Covenant of Civil and Political Rights, meaning that the state is bound by these international agreements. Under international humanitarian law, in particular, common Article 1 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, the U.S. and other states that are party to the convention are obligated to ensure compliance by Israel with the obligations embodied in that Convention, and not to aid, facilitate or recognize the legality of international humanitarian violations carried out by Israel. The positive responsibility under Common Article 1 requires all states, including the U.S., to take all the appropriate measures that they can in order to end all violations of the law, reaffirmed by the UN Security Council Resolution 681 (1990), and ARSIWA Article 41.