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Israel to European governments: Stop funding illegal Palestinian building

55EU funded structure in a Palestinian Beduin encampment outside of the Ma’aleh Adumim settlement in the West Bank.. (photo credit:TOVAH LAZAROFF)

 IDF West Bank chief Yoav Mordechai: There is a war over Area C; EU says it’s offering humanitarian aid.

The Foreign Ministry has warned European governments against flouting Israeli law by funding illegal Palestinian building in Area C of the West Bank and has already razed such structures.

“We bring this issue up in almost every conversation we have with the Europeans,” said Aviv Shir-On, Deputy Director General for European Affairs in the Foreign Ministry.

He spoke on the issue before a Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee sub-group on Judea and Samaria on Tuesday.

“We won’t accept illegal building,” Shir-On said. The Europeans have been informed about Israel’s stance on this issue, he added.

“We’ve told them they have to take into account, that such construction can be destroyed,” Shir-On said.

But he has assured the European officials, Shir-On said, that they will be notified before any demolition occurs.

Starting in September the EU, the Foreign Ministry and the IDF will meet regularly to tackle the issue, Shir-On added. He explained that both individual European governments and the EU were funding illegal Palestinian projects.

The European Union responded to matter in writing on Wednesday through its Embassy in Tel Aviv. It hinted that Israel violated international law, by failing to allow Palestinians adequate recourse to legal housing in Area C of the West Bank.

It’s activity, the EU said, fits the definition of humanitarian assistance which it planned to continue to provide.

“All EU activity in the West Bank is fully in line with international humanitarian law,” it wrote.

“While Israel has overall security and administrative responsibility in Area C, under international law Israel also has the obligation to protect and facilitate development for the local population, and to grant unimpeded access for humanitarian assistance,” it said.

“The EU Is providing humanitarian aid to allow the residents to meet their most basic needs of shelter and sanitation,” it said.

The EU called on Israel to approve master plans for Palestinian development in Area C of the West Bank that have been submitted by Palestinian communities in that area, it said.

“To date only a handful of the proposed plans have been approved. At their last meeting in July the EU foreign ministers unanimously voiced their strong opposition to Israeli demolitions and confiscations, including of EU-funded projects, and called for a fundamental change of Israeli policy to enable accelerated Palestinian construction, as well as social and economic development in Area C,” the EU said.

The issue of EU funded illegal Palestinian building, was first raised in the last few years by the non-governmental group Regavim, which monitors such activity and gave a power point presentation at Tuesday’s meeting. It has estimated that there are close to 1,000 such EU funded structures in the West Bank, which are mostly modular construction with cement floors.

The EU’s involvement in illegal Palestinian building is obvious to the naked eye, because it often places a large round blue EU logo on the projects its sponsors.


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