T. Belman. It is troubling that it needed an expose by Regavim before Netanyahu ordered demolition. It must be election season. First of all the construction has been reported many times and in fits and starts Israel has been demolishing some of it. Secondly, once the housing is erected, the High Court won’t let Israel destroy it. We will have to see just how many of these structures. Netanyahu will actually destroy.
European Union official defends unlicensed construction in Area C, says Palestinians have a right to build there
BY JUSTIN JALIL AND JTA, TOI
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu instructed Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon to move forward with a plan to demolish some 400 Palestinian structures built in the West Bank with European funding, Israeli media reported Friday.
The prime minister’s order came shortly after a Thursday exposé in the Daily Mail claimed that the EU sank tens of millions of euros into homes which were not granted building permits by the Israeli government.
Official EU documentation discovered by the newspaper stated that the buildings were intended to “pave the way for development and more authority of the PA over Area C,” raising concerns that the governmental organization was taking sides in the dispute by shaping the demographics of the Israeli-controlled territory.
A portion of the homes, which largely resemble prefabricated caravans, were built in the E1 area between Jerusalem and Ma’ale Adumim and near the Hebrew University’s Mount Scopus campus, according to Israeli news site NRG.
According to the Daily Mail, the construction in 17 locations cost tens of millions in EU public funds.
On Friday, a spokesman for the European Union defended its funding for the unlicensed construction, even as another EU official had denied wrongdoing.
Shadi Othman, a communications officer at the Office of the European Union Representative in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, spoke to the Daily Mail Thursday about the union’s funding the construction of the 400 homes for Palestinians in the West Bank’s Area C, which according to the Oslo Accords remains under Israeli control until a negotiated final agreement.
“This is part of the work done to build the future Palestinian state which will live side by side with Israel,” Othman said. “Palestinians have a right to live there, build schools there, have economic development.”
Maja Kocijancic, a Brussels-based EU spokesperson, earlier denied any wrongdoing, insisting that construction had not taken place.
“The EU’s funding will provide training and expertise, to help the relevant Palestinian Authority 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 programs. The EU is not funding illegal projects.”
She later declined to comment on a series of photographs purporting the construction of the settlements and an EU-Oxfam sign that stated the main activities of the project was the “rehabilitation and reclamation” of land.
Othman was interviewed about footage collected by the Israeli not-for-profit Regavim, which shows structures bearing plaques with the EU logo. Regavim says the structures …read more