Photo by Rami Allaria
Originally published by Ynet News (with reporting from AFP) – Saturday, April 12, 2014
Israel has demolished several European Union-funded humanitarian housing shelters in a highly sensitive strip of West Bank land near Jerusalem, which led European diplomats to demand financial compensation.
“On April 9, three of some 18 residential structures were demolished… in Jabal al-Baba,” an area outside the sprawling settlement of Ma’aleh Adumim, a spokesman for the EU’s delegation to the Palestinian territories told AFP.
The tin huts, used to house Palestinians made homeless by severe winter weather at the beginning of the year, were “partially funded by EU member states,” the official said.
The shelters were funded by the EU’s humanitarian aid wing, DG ECHO, as well as the French development agency Action Contre la Faim.
Angela Godfrey-Goldstein from the Jahalin Association representing Palestinian Bedouin told Palestinian news agency Ma’an that the demolitions were “presumably revenge” for the Palestinian move to join 15 international treaties and conventions.
Israel issued demolition orders on all 18 structures in February, the official said, and EU delegates “raised this with the Israeli authorities” both at that time of and after the demolitions.
The EU official said simply that there were ongoing discussions with Israeli authorities over the demolitions, but a report by EurActiv, a Brussels-based news service, said diplomats were demanding financial compensation.
“We should ask for compensation from Israel whenever EU-funded humanitarian aid projects are destroyed,” EurActiv quoted an anonymous diplomat as saying.
Palestinian peace negotiator Saeb Erekat called the Israeli move “more than a provocation, it is a crime,” and told EurActiv the Palestinians have asked the EU “to apply their laws in relation to Israel.”
Israel’s military administration of the West Bank could not immediately comment on the demolitions.
An Israeli spokesman contacted by EurActiv for comment issued a statement saying the shelters had been “assembled illegally.”
“At least two of the buildings (were) located on state land and within the jurisdiction of the city of Ma’aleh Adumim,” the statement went on to say.
The structures were located in E1, a highly contentious area in the West Bank east of Jerusalem.
Israel has been planning construction in E1 since the early 1990s but nothing has ever been built there due to heavy international pressure. Plans for building 1,200 units unveiled in December 2012 were quickly put on the back burner after the announcement triggered a major diplomatic backlash.
The Palestinians say construction in E1 would effectively cut the West Bank in two and prevent the creation of a contiguous Palestinian state.