My memory of the signing of the Oslo Accord in 1993 is tied to the story of a family friend who had a stroke when the announcement was made in the media. While the world rejoiced in what seemed like hope for peace, Palestinians everywhere knew, just as our family friend knew, that it was really not something to rejoice in.
Sixty-six years have passed since the Al-Nakba, the Palestinian Catastrophe, and we are no closer to finding a solution to the conflict. Despite the glimmer of hope that Oslo offered twenty-one years ago, the situation continues to deteriorate.
Alain Gresh, member of Le Monde diplomatique’s editorial team, wrote about why the negotiations are virtually hopeless in his article The Israeli-Palestinian Talks Were Set Up to Fail. For the Israeli side; it is not a negotiation among equals and never will be, What’s Mine is Mine; What’s Yours is Negotiable.
"The documentary is both shocking and insightful. It brings to light the plight of many Palestinians"
This is the crux of the matter, and why the Oslo Accord has failed miserably. The Oslo Accord marked the start of a peace process, and the recognition of the State of Israel. It also recognised the Palestinian Liberation Organisation (PLO) as the representative of the Palestinian people, and the creation of the Palestinian Authority, with some semblance of autonomy and control over the West Bank.
The West Bank was divided into three areas, A, B, and C, with varying degrees of control for both parties. Responsibility and control over area C was to be eventually handed over to the Palestinian Authority. Twenty-one years on, this has yet to happen.
The Al-Jazeera documentary Area C (viewable in its entirety above) delineates the increasing grip that the Israeli authorities have on Area C, which contains all the Israeli settlements as well as a large number of military bases.
As it stands, this means that Israel has total control over an area of land, which constitutes 61 percent of the total area of the West bank, and 2,100,000 Palestinians at the mercy of Israeli control.
The documentary is both shocking and insightful. It brings to light the plight of many Palestinians suffering the same harsh realities faced by all Palestinians under occupation, as well as their daily struggles with day-to-day existence. Most, if not all the villages are facing demolition orders, land appropriation, and cripplingly limited mobility.
Signup to our newsletter and follow us on Facebook and Twitter!
Over the course of the documentary, several affected communities and villages are visited. Of these are the villages of Aqaba, El Maleh, and Kafr Qaddoum, all of which are under threat of demolition and land seizure.
Kafr Qaddoum, for instance, has the un-enviable position of being near an Israeli settlement, and has faced a closure of the only road leading to the village because of this settlement, leaving residents with no access to their agricultural land. The residents of Kufr Qaddoum are becoming increasingly worried that the settlement will spill over and appropriate more and more of their land. They already have five compounds encroaching on around 400 hectares of land surrounding the village.
El Maleh is an area made up of 13 small villages, most of which are comprised of tents and temporary shelter. Anything higher than one metre high – whether a chicken coop or a doghouse – is considered a dwelling and therefore is under threat of demolition and removal, says one of the villagers from Khirbet Susya.
Dror Etkes, an Israeli researcher and campaigner says that Area C is a jungle/heaven for construction criminals. All they (Israeli settlers) have to do is wake up one morning with enough energy, and take their neighbour’s land. With enough stubbornness, the Israeli authority eventually backs them.
Palestinians living in Area C also have to contend with the dwindling supply of water available to them. Since the Oslo Accords did not mention how the water supply was to be divided between Area A, B, and C, it is conveniently under the full control of Israel. Israelis consider the water in the West Bank theirs, with no regard for the Palestinians living there.
ALSO READ: The boy in the swing
With beautiful cinematography and poignant storytelling, Area C showcases the disparity between the changing landscape, and the creation of facts on the ground, and the Palestinian people’s steadfastness and perseverance in the face of a constant uphill battle with the changing of the landscape.
It is hard to see a future that will let the Palestinians live in a country that is free from the daily struggles that are imposed on them by an unrelenting and stubborn authority that is more dedicated to their self-interest than the true pursuit of a fair and sustainable plan for peace. Where even as the world hopes for the end of the conflict, it is content to sit back and watch the daily displacement and suffering of Palestinians under illegal occupation. Silence is complicity.
The views expressed in this article are the author's and do not neccessarily correspond to those of Your Middle East.