Israel demolishes EU-funded illegal buildings

While the European Union decries any legitimate Israeli construction in Judea and Samaria, it eagerly funds illegal Palestinian projects.

By: Aryeh Savir, World Israel News

Israeli authorities on Tuesday destroyed five illegally constructed structures in the Hebron area. The structures were built by Palestinians, and three of them were funded by the European Union (EU). The makeshift structures were situated in proximity to the Israeli community of Carmel.

Oved Arad, of Regavim, a research-based legal advocacy NGO dedicated to ensuring accountable use of Israel’s national land, said the five structures were only “the tip of the iceberg” of illegal, EU-funded, Palestinian construction in the area. He welcomed Tuesday’s enforcement activities by Israeli authorities, while saying that much more was needed to stem the phenomenon of EU-funded illegal Palestinian construction.

At issue, is the future of areas in Judea and Samaria known as “Area C,” the 60 percent of the territory that remained under full Israeli control as part of interim peace accords two decades ago. Its ultimate fate has been a major contention point in peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians.

Israel seeks to keep large chunks of the area, which is home to 400,000 Israelis. Israeli Education Minister Naftali Bennett and other Israeli leaders have called to annex the area.

According to interim peace accords, any construction in Area C requires permission from Israel.

The EU runs dozens of projects in Area C, many of them undermining Israeli control of the area and which are designed to grab land and create facts on the ground ahead of a possible final agreement. The Israeli government views these efforts with great suspicion and often demolishes illegal projects.

In a meeting with foreign journalists earlier this year, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called the EU-funded structures “illegal.”

“They’re building without authorization against the accepted rules and there’s a clear attempt to create political realities there,” Netanyahu said.

Israel has repeatedly formally requested that the EU cease with their illegal actions, and has vowed to take action against any infringements on its sovereignty.

“In Area C [under Israeli sovereignty], intensive construction is being carried out on over 1,000 illegal buildings by different authorities, among them international authorities that are asking for negotiations between the two sides,” Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely said.

“Activities in these territories that are not coordinated with Israel do not advance peace and coexistence between the two sides and give backing to the processes at the UN by the Palestinians, which further distances any chance of an agreement,” she added.