EU ratchets up pressure on Israel over house demolitions, settlement expansion

By Naomi Firsht, February 7, 2016

The European Union has called on Israel to stop demolishing Palestinian homes, some of which are EU-funded, and re-stated its opposition to the expansion of settlements.

In a statement, the EU diplomatic service said on Saturday: “In the past weeks there have been a number of developments in Area C of the West Bank which risk undermining the viability of a future Palestinian state and driving the parties yet further apart."

Last month, Israel declared 154 hectares (380 acres) of land near Jericho, West bank, as state land. It is reportedly planning to build around 150 new homes for settlers there.

According to the EU, European government-funded structures were demolished alongside Palestinian residences in the south Hebron hills last Wednesday.

"This is particularly concerning both because of the extent of the demolitions and also the number of vulnerable individuals affected, including children who need support.

“We call on the Israeli authorities to reverse the decisions taken and to halt further demolitions,” the EU said.

But Israel says the EU construction is “illegal”. Prefabricated homes are delivered flat-pack in the middle of the night and assembled early in the morning, according to an Army Radio report.

The foreign ministers from the 28 EU nations confirmed “the EU’s firm opposition to Israel’s settlement policy” and criticised the actions including demolitions, confiscation and forced transfers.

On Thursday, Israeli forces demolished five tents, three barns and an outside toilet in the village of Tammun, north-east West Bank, which it said had been built without permits, Ynet news site reported.

Last updated: 12:44pm, February 7 2016