In the Oslo II agreement of 1995, the West Bank was divided into three Areas: A, under full Palestinian Authority control; B, under Palestinian civil control but joint Israeli-Palestinian security; and C, under full Israeli control. Although Area A was intended to expand until it included all of the West Bank except Israel’s settlements, its military facilities and East Jerusalem – whose status would then be negotiated – in fact the division became a permanent feature. Area A comprises 18% of the West Bank, B another 22%, leaving a full 60%, Area C, including most of Palestinian farmland and water, under exclusive Israeli control. These areas, comprising 64 islands, shape the contours of the “cantons” Sharon proposed as the basis of the future Palestinian state. The emerging Bantustan will thus consist of five truncated cantons: a northern one around Nablus and Jenin; a central one around Ramallah; a southern one around Bethlehem and Hebron; enclaves in East Jerusalem; and Gaza. In this scheme Israel will expand from its present 78% to 85-90%, with the Palestinian state confined to just 10-15% of the country.

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