Israeli Ministry of Tourism map annexes over 60% of the West Bank

on 12 Comments

Is Israel preparing to annex Area C, as a growing number of analysts have recently been speculating?

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(Photo: Jonathan Cook)

This week, on a visit to the Israel’s tourism bureau in Nazareth, I came across an official brochure, “Your Next Vacation: Israel”, that suggests the answer. The brochure is supplied to travel agents around the world as well as to hundreds of thousands of tourists who arrive in Israel each year.

Inside is a map, produced by the Ministry of Tourism, that shows both Israel and the occupied territories. Helpfully, it incorporates Israel’s interpretation of the territorial demarcations created by the Oslo Accords of the mid-1990s.

Oslo divided the West Bank into three parts temporarily – for a period of five years – while Israel and the Palestinians were supposed to negotiate a final-status agreement that, it was widely assumed, would lead to the creation of a Palestinian state in the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem.

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(Photo: Jonathan Cook)

Area A, the smallest part of the West Bank and restricted chiefly to the main Palestinian cities, was placed under the full control of the newly created Palestinian Authority.

Area B, mainly covering the areas around the cities, was under the shared control of the PA and Israel, with Israel taking charge of security matters and the Palestinians responsible for civil affairs.

Today, Areas A and B together cover about 39 per cent of the West Bank.

But by far the largest portion of the West Bank, Area C, was handed over to Israel’s full control. It was assumed by most observers that this land, 61 per cent of the West Bank, would eventually become the territorial bulk of a future Palestinian state.

Over the past two decades, however, Israel has used its hold over Area C – and the lack of an agreement, due to its own intransigence – to entrench and expand the settlements there.

There are now nearly 350,000 Jewish settlers living in more than 250 settlements and outposts dotted all over Area C (a further 200,000 settlers live in East Jerusalem). These settlers, backed by Israeli soldiers and a network of civilian and military bureaucrats, have created a reign of terror that has gradually encouraged Palestinians in Area C to migrate to the cities, still nominally under Palestinian Authority control.

There were once hundreds of thousands of Palestinians in Area C, most making their living from agriculture. Today, some estimates put that number below 100,000, but the population is certainly no higher than 150,000. Of these, most live in extreme poverty and insecurity:

  • their homes are liable to be demolished at any moment;
  • they can access water expensively and intermittently from water-trucks only;
  • their livelihoods as farming communities are under constant threat from water shortages, land confiscations and the walls and fences Israel constantly erects to divide up their holdings;
  • and their physical safety is threatened by attacks from ever-more fanatical settlers living nearby.

Further, what the Oslo Accords assumed would be Israel’s temporary control of Area C has become effectively permanent – part of what the Israeli Supreme Court recently acknowledged as Israel’s “prolonged occupation” of the West Bank.

What all this means is that the debate about whether Israel is going to annex Area C is largely academic. The annexation has already taken place, just not formally. The advantage of this discreet method of annexation – what Israeli general Moshe Dayan once termed “creeping annexation” – is that Israel is under no pressure to confer citizenship on the few Palestinians remaining in Area C.

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(Photo: Jonathan Cook)

The brochure map provides a helpful illustration of Israeli thinking. It was created by the Tourism Ministry in 2007, before the current right-wing government of Benjamin Netanyahu came to power on a platform of tearing up the Oslo Accords. That was the period of Ehud Olmert’s government, which was supposedly committed to reaching an agreement with the Palestinians based on a two-state solution.

The map offers a clear indication of how even Israel’s supposed peace-makers envisage the Palestinians’ future.

The map fails to delineate any territory identifiable as the West Bank, referring to it instead as the Biblical kingdoms of Judea and Samaria. That is also the way Israeli textbooks have presented the West Bank to generations of Israeli schoolchildren: as a single territorial unit of Greater Israel, ruled over by Israel. The Green Line was erased on Hebrew maps from the moment the occupation began.

But the tourism map has been drafted not for a domestic audience but for a foreign one.

What is most surprising is that the map acknowledges the Oslo Accords, but only in part. It marks out Areas A and B, designating them in pink and yellow respectively.

But where is Area C on the map? According to the map’s legend, there is no Area C. It has disappeared. It is not designated and it is shown on the map in the same colours used for “Israel proper”.

When Israeli officials ask tourists at the country’s international airport or at the borders if they are intending to cross into the occupied territories, it appears that they are not actually referring to most of the West Bank – Area C.

The map give us an acute insight into how even the peace camp envisions the rosiest imaginable future: Palestinians corralled into a tiny pseudo-state on about 9 per cent of historic Palestine, split between two cages, the West Bank and Gaza, and denied a capital in East Jerusalem. This is the picture Israel implicitly presents to millions of tourists.

In the view of more hardline Israelis, of course, there are worse scenarios – though, we may conclude, the Tourism Ministry is not ready just yet to publicise them.

About Jonathan Cook

Jonathan Cook won the Martha Gellhorn Special Prize for Journalism. His latest books are “Israel and the Clash of Civilisations: Iraq, Iran and the Plan to Remake the Middle East” (Pluto Press) and “Disappearing Palestine: Israel’s Experiments in Human Despair” (Zed Books). His new website is

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12 Responses

  1. pabelmont
    November 2, 2012, 10:54 am

    Education and a difficult (bloody?) return to democratic control alone will solve the world’s major problems — including Israel’s unlawful usurpation of Palestine.

    The world has known about Israel’s land-grabbing and claimed annexations since 1967 (or, if you like, since 1948). And the world has done nothing, for the great power (great Satan?) America has been outside democratic (hence free of morality-affected) governance for all that time, and subject instead to the ukases of dictators (in the case of Middle East policy, these are: BIG-ZION, AIPAC, BIG-ADELSON for instance).

    The world has known of global warming for 100 years, and especially since 1970, and has done nothing, again, because of the anti-democratic power of the oligarchs in America (and the anti-democratic government of China).

  2. HarryLaw
    November 2, 2012, 12:52 pm

    The “informal” and “non binding” “Technical Arrangements” agreed on between the European Commission and Israel in 2005, whereby Israel must indicate the origin of goods from OPT so that HM customs and other Euro countries could Identify those goods which did not qualify for preferential duty rates, the wording of the agreement was “the postal code and the name of the city, village or industrial zone where production conferring originating status has taken place appear on all proofs of origin issued in Israel”; This arrangement would suit both sides, Israel would not have to state in an official document [the invoice declaration] that the settlements were not part of the state of Israel, the Commission would know which places did not qualify for preferential duty, and keep its point of principle that no part of the OPT could be regarded as part of the territory of Israel, so for instance “Mitspe Shalem postal code 86983″ would comply with the agreement. Unfortunately the Tax Authority in Israel put out a paper where at paragraph 7[2][a] declare that ” invoice declarations covering goods which obtained their originating status in one location-the location [including the postal code where production conferring originating status has taken place shall be indicated in parenthesis next the the word “Israel” see here… This inclusion of a false country of origin should destroy that agreement, will the Commission, or have the Commission turned a blind eye or will the customs authorities insist on the correct country of origin in the documentation? Questions are being asked.

  3. seafoid
    November 2, 2012, 1:50 pm

    Those maps will be of great interest to future students of the Levant’s history
    as well as anyone majoring in “Advanced Chutzpah”.

    The Golan is there too, even though it is occupied under international law.
    And look at what they have done to the Dead Sea- it is now split into 2 parts .

  4. Erasmus
    November 2, 2012, 3:46 pm

    The same Map you can also find on the official Website of the Ministry of Tourism!!


  5. HarryLaw
    November 2, 2012, 4:29 pm

    Seafoid, You mention the Golan Heights, An Israeli company Golan Heights Winery this company who manufacture a top end wine claim the grapes are from the Golan Heights and its bottling and other production facilities are all situated in the occupied Golan Heights, Security Council Resolution 497 [December 1981] declared that the acquisition of territory by force was inadmissible and that Israel’s decision to impose its laws, jurisdiction and administration in the Golan Heights is null and void and without legal effect. Yet this company export this product through Hatov Distributors, London , with a label ” Produced and bottled by Golan Heights Winery POB83 Katzrin,12900 Israel. The front label reads “Yarden” Galilee, wine of Israel. Are they going to get away with this blatant disregard for both UK labeling regulations and Euro Regulations [see European Commission Regulation No 491/2009, Article 118y, Compulsory Particulars,1[d], an indicator of provenance.Enforceable through the UK statutory instrument “The wine regulations 2011” We shall see.

  6. Stephen Shenfield
    November 2, 2012, 7:13 pm

    Is the number of “cages” two or five? I can see four separate pink patches on the West Bank (a relatively large central area, an area to the north, an area to the south, and Jericho on its own to the east). The yellow B areas do not provide guaranteed continuity as Israel controls “security” there and can easily find excuses to isolate the pink areas from one another.

  7. talknic
    November 2, 2012, 8:02 pm

    The Jewish people didn’t survive centuries in the diaspora by abandoning the basic tenets of Judaism. Now we have a state that has. Remind me again why it’s referred to as the “Jewish” state

    The US has two problems regarding Israel and how much support it can give in respect to it’s actual territory and the territory it covets and wishes to annex

    A) It recognized Israel by the UNGA res 181 borders, as requested by the Provisional Israeli Govt May 15th 1948. May 22nd 1948 the Israeli Government acknowledged these borders and the existence of the other separate entity “Palestine”, “outside the territory of the State of Israel”

    B) The US itself was instrumental in shaping the notions of legal annexation under Customary International Law when it conducted a referendum of the Mexican citizens of the Mexican territory (ditto Hawaii and Alaska) eventually annexed to the USA

  8. crone
    November 2, 2012, 8:20 pm

    Off topic, but I thought interesting…

    Why is a New York hospital being sacrificed for an Israel-backed science facility?

  9. DICKERSON3870
    November 2, 2012, 9:31 pm

    RE: “There were once hundreds of thousands of Palestinians in Area C, most making their living from agriculture. Today, some estimates put that number below 100,000, but the population is certainly no higher than 150,000. Of these, most live in extreme poverty and insecurity: their homes are liable to be demolished at any moment; they can access water expensively and intermittently from water-trucks only: their livelihoods as farming communities are under constant threat from water shortages, land confiscations and the walls and fences Israel constantly erects to divide up their holdings . . .” ~ Jonathan Cook

    FROM ALISTAIR CROOKE, London Review of Books, 03/03/11:

    (excerpts). . . It was [Ariel] Sharon who pioneered the philosophy of ‘maintained uncertainty’ that repeatedly extended and then limited the space in which Palestinians could operate by means of an unpredictable combination of changing and selectively enforced regulations, and the dissection of space by settlements, roads Palestinians were not allowed to use and continually shifting borders. All of this was intended to induce in the Palestinians a sense of permanent temporariness. . .
    . . . It suits Israel to have a ‘state’ without borders so that it can keep negotiating about borders, and count on
    the resulting uncertainty to maintain acquiescence. . .

    SOURCE –

    P.S. ALSO SEE: Learned helplessness


  10. DICKERSON3870
    November 2, 2012, 9:40 pm

    RE: “What all this means is that the debate about whether Israel is going to annex Area C is largely academic. The annexation has already taken place, just not formally.” ~ Jonathan Cook

    AU CONTRAIRE MON AMI! FROM ELLIOTT ABRAMS, The Washington (Neocon) Post, 04/08/09:

    [EXCERPT] . . . Is current and recent settlement construction creating insurmountable barriers to peace? A simple test shows that it is not. Ten years ago, in the Camp David talks, Prime Minister Ehud Barak offered Yasser Arafat approximately 94 percent of the West Bank, with a land swap to make up half of the 6 percent Israel would keep. According to news reports, just three months ago, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert offered 93 percent, with a one-to-one land swap. In the end, under the January 2009 offer, Palestinians would have received an area equal to 98 to 98.5 percent of the West Bank (depending on which press report you read), while 10 years ago they were offered 97 percent. Ten years of settlement activity would have resulted in a larger area for the Palestinian state. . .

    SOURCE –

    P.S. Elliott Abrams has totally convinced me [by the sheer power of his (il)logic and his very impressive math skills] to wholeheartedly support the Israeli settlement project in the West Bank.
    As I understand it, the ‘Abrams Principle’ stands for the proposition that more Israeli settlement activity in the West Bank will result in a larger area for the Palestinian state. That’s why I say: “Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead” with the settlement actvity; so as to result in the largest Palestinian state possible (from the Mediterranean Sea to the Jordan River). Fiat justitia! ( “Let Justice Be Done!” )


  11. Egbert
    November 3, 2012, 7:26 am

    Hmm – reminds me of something. What is it? …. I remember …this

  12. Accentitude
    November 4, 2012, 4:50 am

    Hmmm…that’s funny. I can’t say that I’m surprised that the “West Bank” and the “Gaza Strip” aren’t labelled and hence, not recognized. These are the people that have decided that the so-called “occupation” never happened. Hey folks, it’s a “dispute,” remember? kinda like when you and your kid brother both want to be good guys when playing with your G.I. Joes.

    I guess our non-existence lumps us in with other fellow fantasy places and creatures. Atleast we’re the only civilization that has more in common with Hogwarts, Narnia, Middle Earth, Bigfoot, Unicorns, the Boogie Man, Pegasus, Nosferatu, the Loch Ness monster, Chupacabre, Cthulhu, Ogres, Goblins, Gremlins, Smurfs, and Warlocks than we do with real mankind.

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