An Israeli organization has found that the EU is seeking to create facts on the ground outside of the Israeli-Palestinian negotiation process.
The EU is building hundreds of structures in Area C of Judea and Samaria, in contravention of Israeli-Palestinian accords. A newly-released report by the right-wing NGO, Regavim, documents the illegal construction, which includes Bedouin settlements and infrastructure. According to the Oslo Accords, the sparsely populated Area C is under full Israeli control.
The report notes that the EU has earmarked a large amount of financial aid to the Palestinian Authority for the development of Area C. The EU wrote in its September 2014 update to the Humanitarian Implementation Plan for Palestine, “The European Union and the PA are now actively participating in the planning and zoning of Area C which, if successful, could pave the way for development and more authority of the PA over Area C.”
Based on this, Regavim claims that the EU is seeking to create facts on the ground outside of the negotiation process, a charge frequently made against Israelis living in the West Bank. Under the Oslo Accords, the West Bank is divided into Areas A, B, and C. The Palestinian Authority maintains political and security control over Area A, Israel has total control of Area C, and the two share responsibility for Area B. Therefore, joint EU-PA projects in Area C are considered to be in direct contravention of Oslo.
Regavim has gone to the Israeli High Court to call for demolition of structures illegally constructed by the EU, primarily in the E1 area, adjacent to Ma’aleh Adumim. The High Court agreed that the structures should not have been built, but required the Israeli government to provide alternative housing for the Palestinians quartered there by the EU. Israel began planning a city north of Jericho, Ramat Nueima. The EU foreign ministers condemned this move last November, protesting the “the continued demolitions, including of EU and member states funded projects.”
The Coordinator of Government Affairs in the Territories (COGAT) denies that it is failing to address illegal construction in Area C out of deference to Israel-EU relations. A COGAT representative told the Jerusalem Post, “The civil administration acts against illegal construction, and no organization is exempt from enforcement. COGAT has sent official letters to embassies and international organizations cautioning them against building illegally in Judea and Samaria.”
An anonymous source also told the newspaper that the EU construction would be one of the topics of discussion between Maj. Gen. Yoav Mordechai, the head of COGAT, and high-level EU officials in Europe this week.
Regavim describes itself as “ensuring the responsible, legal & environmentally-friendly use of Israel’s national lands.” It is in favor of continued Jewish settlement of the West Bank, and describes efforts by the PA to increase its control over Area C as “gradual annexation.”
By World Israel News staff