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Report: Israel to transfer 20,000 dunams of Area C to PA

Dec. 4, 2013 10:37 A.M. (Updated: Dec. 5, 2013 4:14 P.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- Israel is preparing to transfer 20,000 dunams of occupied land in Area C to the Palestinian Authority, according to a report on the Hebrew language website of Maariv.

The land is expected to be used for agricultural and commercial projects by the PA, according to the website, and the Israeli Ministry of Defense is currently preparing to approve the handover.

The land is not located near the separation wall or any Israeli settlements, the Hebrew daily said, without providing further details about the exact location.

The proposed handover is a result of pressure on Israel from the United States, and USAID is expected to fund several projects in the new land area in an effort to develop the Palestinian economy, Maariv said.

The land transfer, if it occurs, will be the first initiative of its kind in the West Bank since the Oslo Accords.

Area C makes up about 61 percent of the occupied West Bank. Under the terms of the 1993 Oslo Accords between Israel and the PLO, it is under full Israeli military control.

Israel's control over Area C deprives the Palestinian economy of an estimated $3.4 billion a year, the World Bank reported in October.

The report estimated that if Area C were to be returned to Palestinian control, government revenues would increase by $800 million, cutting the Palestinian Authority's fiscal deficit in half and reducing its crippling reliance on international aid.
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