EU reportedly building Palestinian settlements in Israeli-controlled West Bank
Right wing NGO claims project is part of the EU’s strategic plan to create a Palestinian state de facto
The EU is illegally funding the building of Palestinian “settlements” in areas placed under Israeli control by international law, an Israeli right wing NGO claims in a new report, published on Friday.
More than 400 EU-funded Palestinian homes have been erected in 17 locations across Area C of the West Bank, which was placed under Israeli jurisdiction during the Oslo Accords, a Regavim report said. The structures are being built in E1 area – an area of the West Bank within the municipal boundary of the settlement of Ma’ale Adumim, adjacent to and northeast of Jerusalem.
According to Regavim, European Union support for the Palestinians has in recent years moved from “passive diplomatic and financial assistance to a situation of active cooperation in illegal building which the Palestinian Authority has been advancing unilaterally since 2000, as part of its strategic plan to create a Palestinian state de facto, while avoiding the need for negotiations with Israel.”
The Palestinian homes, which have no permits, also come at a cost of tens of millions of Euros in public money.
According to the Daily Mail Online, official EU documentation revealed that the building project – locally known as the “EU Settlements” – is intended to “pave the way for development and more authority of the PA over Area C [the West Bank area under Israeli control]”.
The villages fly the EU flag, and display hundreds of EU stickers and signs. Some also bear the logos of Oxfam and other NGOs, which have assisted in the projects, the Daily Mail said.
According to Ari Briggs, Regavim’s international relations director, the EU logo is placed on the structures in the belief that this will prevent Israel from demolishing them.
Israel is not likely to take down a building with an EU logo, due to concerns over both public relations damage and the harm it could cause to relations with the EU, he said.
“These organisations with EU funding are encouraging and actively aiding the illegal attempt to take over public land. This has nothing to do with human rights and everything to do with taking advantage of less privileged nomadic societies for political goals,” Briggs also pointed out.
Maja Kocijancic, a Brussels-based EU spokesperson, denied the allegation.
“The EU’s funding will provide training and expertise, to help the relevant Palestinian Authority (PA) Ministries to plan and build new infrastructure and enable people to reclaim and rebuild their land there,” she said. “To date, no construction has started yet under these programmes. The EU is not funding illegal projects.”
Shadi Othman, a spokesman for the EU in the West Bank and Gaza, told the Daily Mail construction was indeed taking place.
“We support the Palestinian presence in Area C. Palestinian presence should not be limited Areas A and B. Area C is part of the occupied Palestinian territory which eventually will be Palestinian land. Palestinians have a right to live there, build schools there, have economic development,” Othman said.
“This is part of the work done to build the future Palestinian state which will live side by side with Israel. It’s an international and EU interest to protect the viability of the two state solution.
“If some people are complaining about this, we should not forget the illegal Israeli settlements that are built on occupied Palestinian territory and are illegal under international law and constitute an obstacle to peace,” he concluded.
An Oxfam spokesperson said the illegal construction was justified on humanitarian grounds.
“In recent years, around 97 percent of Palestinian permit applications for building in the Occupied Palestinian Territory have been rejected by the Israeli Government,” he said.
“This means many Palestinian communities in Area C, which is under full Israeli Government control, are being prevented from building basic, essential structures such as homes and schools. Palestinian communities in Area C are some of the poorest in the West Bank… The international community has a responsibility to support vital projects for marginalized communities in Area C.”