The European Union (EU) announced that it will continue to fund the Palestinian Authority’s (PA) construction in Area C, areas under full Israeli control and where PA development is illegal, in a challenge to Israel’s sovereignty and in contravention of international accords.
The EU, Denmark, and the PA launched on Tuesday the implementation of a €5.8 million agreement to build 16 social and public infrastructure projects in Area C.
This package is the fifth of its kind and will fund public illegal infrastructure projects in
Area C. These projects include schools, multipurpose buildings, water distribution networks, water reservoirs and rehabilitation of electricity networks.
This EU contribution brings the total amount of its funding to illegal PA construction to €15.2 million for 58 infrastructure projects in 46 localities.
The EU has a designated Area C Programme that is funded by it and Member States.
“The European Union considers Area C an integral part of the occupied Palestinian territories. This position has been voiced for so many years and is translated in projects like the one we are launching today,” said the EU Representative Sven Kühn von Burgsdorff at the launching ceremony.
The EU has inaugurated and celebrated the construction of similar projects in Area C in recent months.
The Regavim organization, which monitors and pursues legal action against illegal Arab construction, stated that “although the press statement lists the projects involved as seemingly innocuous humanitarian aid, today’s announcement tears away the mask that usually covers the political agenda just below the surface.”
“By funding construction and infrastructure projects that neither apply for nor receive permits from the Israeli Civil Administration – as required by international law and as stipulated in the Oslo Accords, to which the EU is a signatory – these ‘humanitarian’ projects are nothing more than illegal land-grabs that target strategic areas of Judea and Samaria,” Regavim charged.
“The absurdity of today’s announcement would be laughable if it weren’t so insidious,” Regavim’s Director-General Meir Deutsch said.
“Claiming, on the one hand, that it condemns unilateral steps -“The European Union’s position on Area C is clear: we will not recognize any changes to the pre-1967 borders, including with regard to Jerusalem, other than those agreed by both sides”, in the very same breath the statement outlines a host of projects that will create facts on the ground and lay the groundwork for the creation of a Palestinian state in Area C – “The EU and EU Member States support to [sic] developmental interventions in Area C initiated and promoted by the Palestinian Ministry of Local Government”. In other words – we will not recognize any changes unless they are changes that we make…”
Regavim noted that the EU’s have no similar designated fund for infrastructure in Areas A and B, which are under full PA control.
Assailing the Israeli government’s inaction on illegal PA construction, Regavim stated that “if the Israeli government allows itself to be treated like a chastised, powerless child and continues to turn a blind eye to blatant violations of international law and signed treaties in the service of the Palestinian Authority’s aggressive takeover of Israel’s heartland, it will be hard-pressed to convince voters that is a nationalist government – or a government at all.”
Regavim has told TPS that the “real story” with these EU-funded projects is that they are part of the Fayyad Plan activity.
“The PA is focusing efforts there in order to choke off the growth and development of Jewish communities in an area that has always been in the Israeli consensus,” Regavim stated.
“According to international law, according to the Oslo Accords, according to Israeli law – no matter how you slice it, the EU is funding illegal activity that is undermining the rule of law and eroding Israeli sovereignty, leading the area down a collision course, and setting the stage for conflict rather than compromise and negotiation,” the Israeli organization added.
In 2009, then-prime minister of the PA Salaam Fayyad laid out the Plan for the Creation of the State of Palestine, a methodical program for seizing control of territory in Area C, under full Israeli control as prescribed by the Oslo Accords, to form a broad and viable basis for a Palestinian state, specifically in the areas under Israeli control.
Fayyad’s plan essentially bypasses all negotiation or compromise with Israel and creates facts on the ground.
According to data collected by Regavim, in 2009 the number of illegal Arab structures in Area C stood at 29,784, while in 2018 the number surged to 58,435.