I have written about the European Union’s perfidy towards Israel several times before, and it has evidently never gone away. In fact their latest act of treachery is simply the realization and expansion of their declaration 3 years ago that they intend to build infrastructure in the West Bank, thereby undermining Israel’s sovereignty over the Green Line in Judea and Samaria.
Their latest activity (h/t Margie in Tel Aviv) has been building houses in what they call the West Bank.
One could be forgiven for blinking one’s eyes in astonishment at this seeming act of Zionism – until one realises that the housing that the EU is building over the Green Line is intended for Palestinians only. The Daily Mail reports:
The EU is acting illegally by funding unauthorised Palestinian building in areas placed under Israeli control by international law, say an NGO, international lawyers and MEPs.
More than 400 EU-funded Palestinian homes have been erected in Area C of the West Bank, which was placed under Israeli jurisdiction during the Oslo Accords – a part of international law to which the EU is a signatory.
The Palestinian buildings, which have no permits, come at a cost of tens of millions of Euros in public money, a proportion of which comes from the British taxpayer.
This has raised concerns that the EU is using valuable resources to take sides in a foreign territorial dispute.
Official EU documentation reveals that the building project is intended to ‘pave the way for development and more authority of the PA over Area C (the Israeli area)’, which some experts say is an attempt to unilaterally affect facts on the ground.
Locally, the villages are known as the ‘EU Settlements’, and can be found in 17 locations around the West Bank.
They proudly 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.
Questions have also been asked about the conduct of EU workers in the region, after a picture emerged of a man in EU uniform threatening soldiers and bystanders with a rock outside a settlement in 2012. An EU spokesperson declined to comment on the picture.
Do go to the Daily Mail website and look at the detailed pictures and maps to get the full impression of what has been going on there.
Maja Kocijancic, a Brussels-based EU spokesperson, denied that this was happening.
‘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.’
When shown sequences of photographs showing construction taking place, she declined to comment. She also did not comment on an EU-Oxfam sign stating that the ‘main activities’ of construction work are ‘rehabilitation and reclamation’ of land.
However, her statement appeared to be contradicted by Shadi Othman, a spokesman for the EU in the West Bank and Gaza. Speaking on the telephone from the West Bank, he accepted that the construction was 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.
But Area C is Israeli controlled territory intended for Israelis under the Oslo Accords! Who do the Europeans think they are, undermining the Accords? And if they are invalidated for them, then Israel too can consider itself free of the constraints of those awful Accords, and should therefore be permitted to build anywhere it wants.
An Oxfam spokesperson acknowledged that unauthorised construction was taking place, but said that it 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.
Ari Briggs, International Director of Regavim and principal author of the report, claimed that humanitarian projects are being used by the EU and Oxfam as a ‘Trojan horse’ for political aims.
‘Area C has been identified by the anti-Israel “humanitarian community” as a hot spot to push Israel.
‘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.’
At least two Members of the European Parliament are raising the matter with EU policymakers.
On 1 February, James Carver, a British MEP for the West Midlands region, wrote a strongly-worded letter to the European Parliament’s Committee on Foreign Affairs.
‘The structures all bear the name and flag of the EU and official EU agents have been photographed participating in overseeing the construction, so the active involvement of the EU can hardly be denied,’ he wrote.
‘I kindly call upon you to do your utmost to bring an end to these illegal and destructive activities,’
Michael Theurer, a German MEP who is a member of the European Parliament’s Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs, shares his concerns. ‘I am taking these allegations seriously and will thoroughly investigate them,’ he said.
An Israeli government source said that the Palestinian settlements demonstrate ‘the double standards of the EU’, which ‘deplores’ Israeli settlements while funding illegal building of its own for Palestinians.
‘If Israel started building houses in the middle of Hyde Park, the British government would immediately take them down,’ he said. ‘The EU is doing things that would never be acceptable in Europe.’
The Israeli politician Yariv Levine, Chairman of the House Parliamentary Committee in the Knesset, Israel’s parliament, added:
‘It is hypocritical of the EU to criticise Israeli construction while at the same time actively supporting and practically taking part in illegal Palestinian settlement construction on Israeli land.’
Alan Baker, an international lawyer who took part in drafting the Oslo Accords in the Nineties, said that the EU’s actions were illegal.
‘The EU is a signatory to the Oslo Accords, so they cannot pick and choose when they recognise it,’ he said.
‘According to international law, all building in Area C must have permission from Israel, whether it is temporary or permanent.
‘The same principle applies anywhere in the world. If you want to build, you need planning permission.
‘The EU is ignoring international law and taking concrete steps to influence the facts on the ground.’
Professor Eugene Kontorovich, an international lawyer from the Northwestern University School of Law in Chicago, said: ‘There’s no question, the EU is openly in violation of international law.’
The EU in their smug self-righteousness defend themselves by saying:
The Office of the European Union Representative in Jerusalem said in a statement: ‘The European Union is deeply dismayed by and strongly opposes Israeli plans to expand settlements in the West Bank, including in East Jerusalem, and in particular plans to develop the E1 area.
‘The E1 plan, if implemented, would seriously undermine the prospects of a negotiated resolution of the conflict by jeopardizing the possibility of a contiguous and viable Palestinian state and of Jerusalem as the future capital of two states.
‘It could also entail forced transfer of civilian population. In the light of its core objective of achieving the two-state solution, the EU will closely monitor the situation and its broader implications, and act accordingly.’
“Could entail forced transfer of civilian population” – but it won’t because Israel has never done that until now and has no intention of doing so in the future. And again, it is up to Israel to decide what to do with E1, and not the Europeans. They should butt out of Israel’s business and if they are so worried about the Palestinians’ welfare they should investigate where their billions of dollars in aid are disappearing to – and you can be sure it is not into housing, schools or infrastructure, not to mention paying the salaries of Palestinian civil servants. Those billions are most likely to be found deep in the pockets of senior PA officials who are quite happy to let the EU do their dirty work.
Emily Amrousi explains how the European Union is building Palestine and why this poses a huge danger for Israel:
The network of Bedouin outposts in the Adumim region looks like a flagship Palestinian Authority-European Union initiative. Why there? The strategic importance of this specific area stems mainly from the narrow corridor that runs along one of Israel’s main routes — the road from Jerusalem to the Dead Sea.
In any war scenario, that road would become a vital artery, delivering vehicles, weapons and supplies to the eastern border. The battle is for control over that corridor. The Palestinians are trying to create territorial contiguity between Nablus, Ramallah and Jericho east of Jerusalem, and between Bethlehem and Hebron to the south. Israel claims contiguity between Jerusalem and Maaleh Adumim and eastward to the Jordan Valley.
One line runs east to west between Jerusalem and the Dead Sea. The other line runs north to south from Ramallah to Bethlehem. The intersection between these two lines is a fateful point: It is either an Israeli barrier preventing Palestinian contiguity or the other way around. The race is on. The point where these two lines meet is called E1. In the outdated zoning plans it is called Mevaseret Adumim. It is a range of round hills that have swelled with too many promises over the years. As of today, there is no Israeli construction there, but there is plenty of Palestinian-European construction — about 200 houses, all built in violation of the law.
The European Union mission in east Jerusalem confirmed to us that “the European Union is very frustrated with the Israeli plans to build in the E1 zone, which will jeopardize the possibility of establishing a contiguous and viable Palestinian state. We are monitoring the situation and taking appropriate action.”
It doesn’t get any clearer than that. Europe is facing the Jewish state with facts on the ground: contiguous and permanent Palestinian housing in sovereign Israeli territory. Take that.
The publicity that this Regavim report has engendered has finally embarrassed the government into taking action, and this being election season has only strengthened the government’s resolve. The Prime Minister has now ordered the demolition of the EU-funded structures over the Green Line.
I shall however not hold my breath, but will reserve judgement until I see for myself that those structures have actually been taken down. From bitter experience we Israelis know that our government is very big on talk and very reluctant to take action, especially against a hostile entity like the EU who has had the temerity to threaten sanctions against Israel for building in the West Bank while reserving that right for itself – but only for the enemy side.
And if by some miracle the government follows through, how long do you think it will take for cries of “apartheid”, “repression” or “war crimes” to ring throughout the EU and UN?