It includes the resource-rich Jordan Valley and the area called E-1, east of Jerusalem, which unites the northern and southern parts of the West Bank. It is the land where new and existing Palestinian communities should be able to develop; it is an important source of water and mineral resources. Without Area C, a viable Palestinian state would not be possible.
Israeli policies have systematically laid the groundwork for making Area C part of Israel. The Civil Administration, the Orwellian name for the military authority that governs the West Bank, requires zoning approval and building permits for new construction. These are almost never approved for Palestinians, while Israeli construction proceeds unhindered.
Israeli demolition orders are issued for Palestinian structures built without licences; according to the UN, 11,000 demolition orders are outstanding in Area C.
Last month, the agriculture minister, Uri Ariel, called for the annexation of Area C by Israel. Previously, he had called for Israeli settlement building in area E-1. Prime minister Netanyahu has distanced himself from his ministers on the subject, but restrictions on Palestinian development in Area C remain.
As a recent example, the Civil Administration last week demolished 23 homes and structures in two Palestinian communities in the south Hebron hills. These had been home to 78 people, including 60 children and minors. The reason given for the demolition was lack of permits, even though natural growth and overcrowding led residents to build them.
There are 12 other villages in the area under demolition orders, so the Israeli military can use the land for training.
The European Union has an active programme of assisting development of Palestinian villages in this region, including providing electricity by way of solar cells and batteries.
However, after the EU announced, in November, that products imported from the settlements be labelled, Israel took a number of steps to show its displeasure, including demolition of EU projects in Area C.
Thus, the inexorable displacement, by force, of the Palestinians from their historic homes and lands continues unabated, without protest from Israel’s acquiescent Western trading partners.