EU slams Israeli demolition of illegal Bedouin homes

Israeli NGO hits back against EU report urging Israel to refrain from evicting hundreds of squatters who illegally built villages without required permits; Regavim spokesperson decries “absurd, twisted and cynical abuse of Israel’s legal system.”

By: Jack Ben-David, World Israel News

The European Union criticized Israel on Friday for demolishing homes illegally built by a Bedouin community in the Jordan Valley and urged the country not to implement further evictions.

A statement issued by the EU also condemned Israel’s plans to clear out some 400 Bedouin squatters from the villages of Ein al-Hilweh and Umm Jamal––both in Area C under Israeli control––that were illegally built and have since interrupted traffic due to their haphazard formation.

Moreover, Umm Jamal has hindered IDF operations due to its encroachment on a military firing range.

Despite the inherent dangers posed to the squatters themselves by their hazardous location, the EU demanded that Israel cancel its plans to demolish two other illegally built communities in Jabal al-Baba, near Ma’ale Adumim, just east of Jerusalem.

“The recent military orders against Palestinians in the communities of Ein al-Hilweh and Umm Jamal in the Northern Jordan valley and the community of Jabal al-Baba are leaving properties of up to 400 persons at risk of seizure and demolition,” the EU report warned.

Meir Deutsch, director of Policy and Government Relations at Regavim, an NGO that frequently takes land battles to Israel’s highest judicial bodies, described as “infuriating” the EU’s attempt to pressure Israel as well as its admission in the report that it has been funding illegal structures in Israel.

“The recent threat by eight European Union members to sue the Israeli government for compensation would be funny if it weren’t so infuriating: With this claim for compensation, these countries finally admit that they were actively involved in the illegal construction of over 1000 structures in the Adumim Region, an area under full Israeli administration and authority under the Oslo II Accords – to which the EU is a signatory,” Deutsch said.

EU’s ‘illegal, environmentally damaging activities’

“In an absurd, twisted, and cynical abuse of Israel’s legal system, these countries intend to invoke the rule of law in support of their own violation of the law,” Deutsch added. “Their goal, which they have stated publicly and officially, is to support the Fayyad Plan for the creation of a de facto Palestinian state in Area C, effectively undermining the ‘peace process’ they claim to support.”

Additionally, a member of the European Parliament, James Carver, wrote a letter last year to the EU, slamming its “illegal and environmentally damaging activities…in the West Bank.”

Furthermore, “Israel has full administrative responsibility and authority over land located in this area. Thus any construction in this area must receive a permit by the Israeli authorities. Any permit without such a permit, is illegal, and by endorsing such acts by the Palestinians, the EU is participating in the violation of the Oslo II Agreement,” the letter read.