West Bank areas in the Oslo II Accord

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Official 1995 agreement map of Areas A and B (with C being defined as the rest of the West Bank)
2005 map showing areas A and B along with nature reserves and Israeli settlements. The red line is a projected route of the West Bank Barrier
Map highlighting Area C where the access is closed and restricted to Palestinians. Darker areas are Israeli settlements and military posts within Area C.

The Oslo II Accord divided the Israeli-occupied West Bank into three administrative divisions: the Palestinian enclaves as "Areas A and B" and the remainder, including Israeli settlements, as "Area C".

The Palestinian enclaves were created by a process of subtraction by allocating to Area C everything that the Israeli government considered "important", thereby consigning the vast majority of West Bank Palestinians to the remaining non-contiguous areas.[1][2]

Area C forms a contiguous territory on 61% of the West Bank, and is administered solely by Israel via the Judea and Samaria Area administration. As of 2015, it is home to 150,000 Palestinians[3] in 532 residential areas, and roughly 400,000 Israelis[4] in 135 settlements and more than 100 unrecognized outposts.

In contrast, Areas A and B are subdivided into 165 enclaves of land that have no territorial contiguity.[2] Area A is exclusively administered by the Palestinian National Authority; Area B is administered by both the Palestinian Authority and Israel. Area A comprises approximately 18% of the total territory of the West Bank and Area B about 22% of the territory, together home to some 2.8 million Palestinians.[5]


The Oslo II Accord stipulated that "during the first phase of redeployment" the jurisdiction over Areas A and B would be transferred to the Palestinian Council. Article XI.2.a reads: "Land in populated areas (Areas A and B), including government and Al Waqf land, will come under the jurisdiction of the Council during the first phase of redeployment."

The populated areas were defined by delineations on a map attached to the document. Area C comprised the areas of the West Bank outside Areas A and B.[6]

Palestinian enclaves (Areas A and B)

Area A (full civil and security control by the Palestinian Authority): initially, circa 3% of the West Bank, exclusive East Jerusalem (first phase, 1995).[7] As of 2013, Area A formally comprised about 18% of the West Bank.[2] During the second intifada, the Israel Defense Forces abolished the prohibition against entering Area A during Operation Defensive Shield in 2002 and entered the area regularly, mostly at night, conducting raids to arrest suspected militants.[8] Typically, such raids are coordinated with the Palestinian security forces.[9] This area includes eight Palestinian cities and their surrounding areas (Nablus, Jenin, Tulkarem, Qalqilya, Ramallah, Bethlehem, Jericho and 80 percent of Hebron), with no Israeli settlements.[10] Entry into this area is forbidden to all Israeli citizens.

Area B (Palestinian civil control and joint Israeli-Palestinian security control): initially, circa 23–25% (first phase, 1995).[7] As of 2013, Area B formally comprised about 22% of the West Bank.[2] This area includes some 440 Palestinian villages and their surrounding lands, and no Israeli settlements.[10] It was defined in the accord as "the populated areas delineated by a red line and shaded in yellow on attached map No. 1, and the built-up area of the hamlets listed in Appendix 6 to Annex I"; this list of hamlets is as follows:

A. Tulkarm District

B. Nablus District

C. Salfit District

D. Jericho District

E. Qalqilya District

F. Jenin District

G. Hebron District

H. Ramallah District

I. Bethlehem District

1. Akkaba

2. Al Nazla Al Wusta

3. Koor

4. Kife

1. Jalood

2. Al-Juneid

3. Al-Aqrabinya

4. Nisf Jbeil

5. Yanoon

6. Iraq Bureen

7. A'mouria

Khirbat Qays


1. Seer

2. Khirbat Salman

3. Falamiya

4. Khirbat Ras Tera

5. Asalah

6. Al-Funduq

7. Al-Modawar

1. Toura Al-Gharbiyyah

2. Al-Zawiyyah

3. Mashrou' Beit Qad

4. Al Kafir

5. Al Mutla

6. Talfit

7. Toura-Al Sharqiyyah

1. Al Aziz

2. Khirbat Al-salam 3. Abu Al-A'sja 4. Sikka 5. Wadi Al-Shajna 6. Beit Marseem 7. Al-Hijra 8. Deir Razeh 9. Khilat Al-Mayat 10. Khilat Al A'qd 11. Um Lasafa 12. Qinan Jaber 13. Raboud 14. Shweik 15. Khirbat Skeik 16. Jroun Al-Louz 17. Beit Makdoum 18. Al-Mouriq 19. Al Beira 20. Al Juba 21. Beit I'mra 22. Turama 23. Hadb Al-Alaka 24. Deir Al-A'sal Al Tahta 25. Beit Al Roush Al-Tahata 26. Al-Deir 27. Kuezeiba 28. Hitta 29. Korza

1. Jibaa

2. Ein Qinya

3. Yabroud

4. Deir Nitham

5. Um Saffa

6. Burham

7. Al-Nabi Saleh

8. Shibteen

9. Khirbat Um Al-Lahm

10. Beit Ijza

1. Wadi Al-Neis

2. Mirah Rabah 3. Al Mas'ara 4. Um Salamouna 5. Al-Khas 6. Khilat Al-louz 7. Abu-Nijem 8. Beit Faloh 9. Breide'a 10. Khirbat Al-Deir 11. Daher Al-Nada 12. Al-Minshya 13. Khilat al-Hadad 14. Keisan 15. Al-Rashaida 16. Harmala 17. Mrah Mia'alla

Remainder of the West Bank (Area C), including Israeli settlements

Official 1997 agreement map of Palestinian controlled H1 and Israeli controlled H2.
Illustration showing areas H1 and H2 and adjacent Israeli settlements

Area C (full Israeli civil and security control): initially, circa 72–74% (first phase, 1995).[7][11] Under the 1998 Wye River Memorandum, Israel would further withdraw from some additional 13% from Area C to Area B, which officially reduced Area C to circa 61% of the West Bank.[12][13] Israel, however, withdrew from only 2%,[10] and during Operation Defensive Shield, it reoccupied all territory. As of 2013, Area C formally comprised about 63% of the West Bank, including settlements, outposts and declared "state land".[2] Including or excluding annexed East Jerusalem, no-man's land and the Palestinian part of the Dead Sea also determines the percentage. John Kerry, U.S. Secretary of State under the Obama administration, stated that Area C "is effectively restricted for any Palestinian development, and that few building permits had been granted to Palestinian residents of the area.[14]

All Israeli settlements (except those in East Jerusalem, which was annexed to Israel) are located in Area C.[10][2] Oslo II, Article XII, for example, states: "For the purpose of this Agreement, 'the Settlements' means, in the West Bank the settlements in Area C; and in the Gaza Strip [which were later evacuated during the disengagement] ..."[6]

Settler population by year in the Israeli-occupied territories from 1972 to 2007

In 1972, there were 1,000 Israeli settlers living in what is now Area C. By 1993, their population had increased to 110,000.[15] Over 400,000 Jewish settlers live in Area C in Israeli settlements and outposts.[16] Approximately 300,000 Palestinians live there as well; who reside in more than 500 households areas located partially or fully in Area C.[16]

Oslo definition of Area C

Oslo II defines Area C as follows:

"Area C" means areas of the West Bank outside Areas A and B, which, except for the issues that will be negotiated in the permanent status negotiations, will be gradually transferred to Palestinian jurisdiction in accordance with this Agreement.

The issues that will be negotiated, according to Article XVII, are "Jerusalem, settlements, specified military locations, Palestinian refugees, borders, foreign relations and Israelis; and … powers and responsibilities not transferred to the Council".[6] Parts of Area C are military area closed for Palestinians.

Transfer of Area C

Part of Area C was intended to be handed to Palestinians by the end of 1999.[17] Israel promised to redeploy its troops from Areas A and B before the elections. After the inauguration of an elected Palestinian parliament, the Israeli Civil Administration would be dissolved and the Israeli military government be withdrawn. The Council would get some powers and responsibilities.[18]

Within 18 months from the date of inauguration, Israel would further redeploy military forces from Area C in three phases, however, without transfer of any sovereignty to the Palestinians:

The Council will assume powers and responsibilities for civil affairs, as well as for public order and internal security, according to this Agreement.[18]

1. Israel shall transfer powers and responsibilities as specified in this Agreement from the Israeli military government and its Civil Administration to the Council in accordance with this Agreement. Israel shall continue to exercise powers and responsibilities not so transferred.

5. After the inauguration of the Council, the Civil Administration in the West Bank will be dissolved, and the Israeli military government shall be withdrawn. The withdrawal of the military government shall not prevent it from exercising the powers and responsibilities not transferred to the Council.[6]

The military forces would be redeployed in "specified military locations" in the West Bank, to be negotiated in the permanent status negotiations within 18 months.[18] The Legislative Council was elected in January 1996.

Use of Area C

OCHAoPt map of Area C. More than 99% of Area C is heavily restricted or off-limits to Palestinian development, with 68% reserved for Israeli settlements, approximately 21% for closed military zones, and about 9% for nature reserves. Construction permits for residential or economic purposes are, according to World Bank, "virtually impossible" for Palestinians to obtain.[19]

Area C, 99% of which is excluded from Palestinian use, contains most of the West Bank's natural resources and open spaces, access to which, according to the World Bank, would enable the Palestinians to halve their budget deficit and lead to an expansion of their economy by a third.[20][19] According to Danny Rubinstein: "Much land in Area C is undeveloped. Israel, however, does not permit Palestinian construction for residential, commercial or industrial purposes."[21]

70 percent of the area is defined as within settler municipal boundaries, where permits for development are denied to Palestinians. The World Bank estimates that the effect has been to cause a potential loss of $14 billion of revenue for the Palestinian economy.[21]

According to a 2013 EU report, Israeli policies have undermined the Palestinian presence in Area C, with a deterioration in basic services such as water supplies, education and shelter. Nearly 70% of the Palestinian villages are not connected to the water network that serves settlers, which accounts for the fact that Palestinians in the zone use only a quarter to a third of the pro capita consumption of settlers.[22]

Palestinians cannot build in Area C without an army permit; however, building applications are expensive and have a 5% approval rate. As a result, most Palestinians who build there do so illegally. Israel demolishes about 200 buildings per year in Area C.[23]

Israel has made over 14,000 demolition orders against Palestinian-owned structures in Area C since 1988.[24] As of January 2015, almost 20% of the demolition orders issued had been executed and more than 11,000 of these still outstanding, affecting an estimated 17,000 structures.[25]

Israeli planning in Area C allocates 13 times more space to Israeli settlers than to Palestinians there, according to the United Nations. Israeli settlers have been allocated about 790 square meters per capita, whereas Palestinians have been allocated about 60 square meters per capita.[24]

During the period 1988–2014, the Israeli Civil Administration issued 6,948 demolition orders against structures in settlements located in Area C. As of January 2015, 12% of these were classified as executed, 2% were cancelled, another 2% "ready for execution" and 2% on hold due to legal proceedings. More than one-third of the orders were classified as "in process", while the current status of about 45% of the demolition orders against settlement structures was unknown.[25]

Alleged violation of the Accords

Israeli signpost warning Israeli citizens that entry into Area 'A' is forbidden, life-endangering, and constitutes a criminal offense

The relatively new phenomenon of building Palestinian settlements began in 2006, attempting to trace after the Israeli settlement experience beyond the 1967 Green Line, and in a media-driven counter-offensive.[26] The most notable Palestinian settlement in the West Bank, defined by Israel as "illegal", was built in January 2013 on E1 Area East of Jerusalem. The settlement which was named "Bab al-Shams" consisted of about 20 tents, constructed by the Popular Struggle Co-ordination Committee.[27] A few days after the evacuation, another "Palestinian settlement" was erected in the village of Beit Iksa near the planned Wall barrier, which they claim would confiscate Palestinian land. It was named "Bab al-Karama".[28][29]

Area B is defined as land under Palestinian civil control and Israeli military control. According to Dror Etkes, Israeli settlers have violated the accords by spreading into Area B and seizing private Palestinian land for cultivation and settlement. Examples he cites are the Amona settlement, overlooking Ofra, where he argues that land belonging to villagers of Deir Dibwan has been taken for redevelopment; the settlement of Itamar which he says has seized control of land and resources belonging to the Area B villages of Yanun, Awarta and Einabus; he states that settlers have seized Area B land near Esh Kodesh and Mitzpeh Ahiya east of Shilo; and he states that settlers of Ma'ale Rehav'am have built in a nature reserve established under the Wye River Memorandum.[30]

Religious sites

Responsibility for religious sites in the West Bank and Gaza Strip was to be transferred to the Palestinian side, gradually in the case of Area C.[31][32] The Palestinian side agreed to ensure free access to a specific list of Jewish religious sites[33] but due to the uncertain security situation the Israel Defense Forces limits visits by Jews to rare occasions.[34] In Area C, Nabi Musa was to be under the auspices of the Palestinian side and access to al-Maghtas on the Jordan River was promised for particular religious events.[32]

See also


  1. ^ Burns, Jacob; Perugini, Nicola (2016). "Untangling the Oslo Lines". In Manna, Jumana; Storihle, Sille (eds.). The Goodness Regime (PDF). p. 40. The process was very easy. In the agreement signed in '93, all those areas that would be part of final status agreement—settlements, Jerusalem, etc.—were known. So I took out those areas, along with those roads and infrastructure that were important to Israel in the interim period. It was a new experience for me. I did not have experience of mapmaking before. I of course used many different civilian and military organizations to gather data on the infrastructure, roads, water pipes, etc. I took out what I thought important for Israel.
  2. ^ a b c d e f What is Area C?. B'Tselem, 9 October 2013
  3. ^ Hass, Amira (2012-01-12). "EU Report: Israel Policy in West Bank Endangers Two-state Solution". Haaretz. Retrieved 2016-06-15.
  4. ^ "15,000 More Jews in Judea-Samaria in 2014". Arutz Sheva. 2 January 2015. Retrieved 2016-06-15.
  5. ^ "Estimated Population in the Palestinian Territory Mid-Year by Governorate,1997-2016". Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics. State of Palestine. Archived from the original on 8 June 2014. Retrieved 8 June 2014.
  6. ^ a b c d Israeli-Palestinian Interim Agreement on the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, Article I "Transfer of Authority"; Article XI "Land", par. 3. 28 September 1995 (Oslo II Accord)
  7. ^ a b c Gvirtzman, Haim. "Maps of Israeli Interests in Judea and Samaria Determining the Extent of the Additional Withdrawals". (this study was funded by the Settlement Division of the Zionist Organization)
  8. ^ Nahum Barnea, 'Beitunian nights: The IDF in the West Bank,' Ynet 18 March 2016.
  9. ^ Cohen, Gili; Khoury, Jack (December 11, 2016). "Palestinian Security Forces Deny IDF Troops Entry to Jenin". Haaretz.
  10. ^ a b c d The demise of the Oslo process. Joel Beinin, MERIP, 26 March 1999.
    In area B, consisting of about 23 percent of the territory (including some 440 villages and their surrounding lands), the Palestinians are responsible for certain municipal functions, while joint Israeli-Palestinian patrols maintain internal security. Area C, consisting of about 74 percent of the territory including all of the 145 settlements and the new Jewish neighborhoods in and around East Jerusalem, remains under full Israeli control.
  11. ^ MFA, "Map No. 1 – First Phase of Redeployment"
  12. ^ New York Times, 23 July 2012, "Israel Seeks Army Use of West Bank Area"
  13. ^ "West Bank: Area C Map". UNISPAL, 22 February 2011; from OCHAoPt
  14. ^ Redden, Killian (6 December 2015). "Kerry: Israel 'imperilling' two-state solution". Ma'an News Agency. Archived from the original on Nov 7, 2018.
  15. ^ Diab, Khaled (6 September 2012). "Bedouin kids' school of hard knocks". Haaretz. Retrieved 9 September 2012.
  16. ^ a b Lazaroff, Tovah (6 March 2014). "UN: 300,000 Palestinians live in Area C of the West Bank". Jerusalem Post. Archived from the original on Oct 30, 2023.
  17. ^ Ron Pundak, "Decoding Bibi's West Bank agenda", Haaretz, 3 August 2012.
  18. ^ a b c Annex I: Protocol Concerning Redeployment and Security Arrangements, Article I—"Redeployment of Israeli Military Forces and Transfer of Responsibility", par. 6, 9–10. Annex to the Interim Agreement on the West Bank and the Gaza Strip (Oslo II)
  19. ^ a b "West Bank and Gaza – Area C and the future of the Palestinian economy". World Bank. 2 October 2013. pp. xi, 4.
  20. ^ Associated Press, "Palestinians lose billions to Israeli land bans, says World Bank report," The National, October 8, 2013: "Without the ability to conduct purposeful economic activity in Area C, the economic space of the West Bank will remain crowded and stunted, inhabited by people whose daily interactions with the state of Israel are characterised by inconvenience, expense and frustration."
  21. ^ a b Danny Rubenstein, "The Palestinian economy: Israel's control over Area C comes at a price". Ynet, 9 February 2015.
  22. ^ "Palestinians in West Bank's Area C suffer in limbo," Los Angeles Times, 18 May 2013.
  23. ^ "West Bank settlements: Bulldozers at the ready". The Economist. Retrieved 2 August 2015.
  24. ^ a b Dalia Hatuga, "Report reveals scale of Israel's home demolitions,". Al Jazeera, 7 September 2015
  25. ^ a b Under threat—Demolition orders in Area C of the West Bank Archived 2015-11-22 at the Wayback Machine. UN OCHA, 3 September 2015
  26. ^ "Villagers expand first Palestinian settlement". International Solidarity Movement. 8 February 2005. Retrieved 16 January 2013.
  27. ^ "Palestinian protest on land assigned for E1 settlement". BBC. 11 January 2013. Retrieved 16 January 2013.
  28. ^ Zianta, Rana (23 January 2013). "Palestinian village Bab Al Karama demolished". Al Arabiya. Retrieved 5 October 2016.
  29. ^ [1], and was also evacuated few days later [2]
  30. ^ Haaretz, Akiva Eldar, West Bank outposts spreading into Area B, in violation of Oslo Accords. 18 February 2012.
  31. ^ "3. Annex III - Protocol Concerning Civil Affairs". unispal.un.org.[dead link]
  32. ^ a b "The Israeli-Palestinian Interim Agreement on the West Bank and the Gaza Strip: Annex III, Protocol Concerning Civil Affairs". Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Israel). 28 September 1995. Retrieved 25 November 2022.
  33. ^ Kershner, Isabel (2015-10-16). "Palestinians Burn Jewish Holy Site in West Bank as Clashes Kill 4". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2019-12-03.
  34. ^ "Tisha Be'av in the PA's Hebron". The Jerusalem Post | JPost.com. Retrieved 2019-12-03.

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