Quartet: Nearly 600,000 Jews Now Live in Yehudah and Shomron

View of Maale Adumim. Photo by Yonatan Sindel/Flash90
View of Maaleh Adumim. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

A day after the horrific murder of 13-year-old Hallel Ariel, Hy”d, in Kiryat Arba, the Quartet – the group consisting of officials from the U.S., the U.N., the EU and Russia – issued the draft of a report calling on Israel to immediately halt building in Area C of Yehudah and Shomron. According to the report, Israel’s continued building in Area C is “steadily eroding the viability of the two-state solution.”

According to the report, at least 570,000 Israelis live over the Green Line, significantly more than the numbers generally broadcast in the Israeli media. That figure includes areas of Yerushalayim liberated in the Six Day War, which the Quartet considers “occupied” as well. Israel essentially fully controls over 70 percent of land and resources in Area C – the area under Israeli military and civil control, according to the Oslo Accords, where the large majority of Israelis living in Yehudah and Shomron are domiciled. According to the Oslo Accords, Israel is supposed to eventually hand over jurisdiction in Area C to the Palestinian Authority, but that process stopped a long time ago, the report said.

“The transfer of greater powers and responsibilities to Palestinian civil authority in Area C, contemplated by commitments in prior agreements, has effectively been stopped and in some ways reversed and should be resumed to advance the two-state solution and prevent a one-state reality from taking hold,” the draft of the Quartet report said. “”Israel should cease the policy of settlement construction and expansion, designating land for exclusive Israeli use and denying Palestinian development.”

As far as the PA is concerned, the Authority needed to reign in terror attacks and prevent murders such as the one that occurred in Kiryat Arba Thursday, when 17-year-old Muhammad Tararia sneaked into the town and murdered a 13-year-old girl in her bedroom. “The Palestinian authority should act decisively and take all steps within its capacity to cease incitement to violence and strengthen ongoing efforts to combat terrorism, including by clearly condemning all acts of terrorism,” the draft report said.

U.N. Middle East envoy Nickolay Mladenov briefed the U.N. Security Council on Thursday on the Quartet report, which he told reporters had been submitted to the Quartet members for final approval and was likely to be released on Friday.

Diplomatic sources said the report carries significant political weight as it has the backing of close Israeli ally, the United States, which has struggled to revive Middle East peace talks amid a fraught relationship between Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and President Barack Obama.

The relationship between the Israeli leader and the U.S. president has yet to recover from deep differences over last year’s U.S.-led international nuclear deal with Israel’s foe Iran.

The levayah for the murdered girl was held Thursday night in Kiryat Arba. Speaking to Israel Radio, Agriculture Minister Uri Ariel – a relative of the girl – said that he knew Hallel “as an active, very positive child, full of life, who was murdered by a terrorist in her bedroom. We as Jews do not take revenge,” said Ariel. “That is for Hashem to do. Our way to avenge her death is to build, plant, and rooting ourselves to the land.” Ariel called on the government to establish a new neighborhood in Kiryat Arba in memory of Hallel.

“Terror has now reached my family, but our response must be a national one. We must double our pace of building in Yehudah and Shomron and impose Israeli sovereignty on Area C,” he added.

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