While the EU has repeatedly slammed settlement building by Israel in the West Bank as ‘illegal’, it has been funneling millions into the region to illegally build Palestinian settlements.
By Donna Rachel Edmunds, World Israel News
European nations are actively encouraging and funding the building of illegal Palestinian settlements in Area C of the West Bank, even as Israel is being criticized for legal building, the director of a pro-Israel organization has said.
The West Bank is the area west of the Jordan river which was captured from Jordan in the 1967 war by Israel. As it includes Palestinian towns, the region, known as Judea and Samaria to Jewish Israelis, was subsequently split into three sections by the Oslo Accords: Area A, administered by the Palestinian Authority, which Israeli citizens are barred from entering, Area B, which is shared territory, and Area C which under Israeli control.
Israel has come under increasingly vocal criticism for the building of settlements in Area C, with critics accusing Israel of attempting to change the facts on the ground. However, the EU has simultaneously been actively encouraging the building of Palestinian settlements in the same region without planning permission from the Israeli authorities – making them illegal settlements.
“To date, EU member countries have transferred around 120 million Euros toward building in Area C,” Gilad Ach, director of the Ad Kan non-profit organization told Arutz Sheva. “From their perspective, the battle is already over in Areas A and B, and now they’ve moved on to take control over areas that were designated as Israeli-controlled in the Oslo Agreements. They don’t care about that – they’re going right ahead and actually building a Palestinian state right in the middle of Area C.”
Last Thursday, the Palestinian news service WAFA reported in English that Germany had pledged 100 million Euros to the Palestinian Authority over the next two years for projects in Gaza, east Jerusalem, and Palestinian settlements in Area C.
According to Wafa, during a press conference, Prime minister Mohammed Shtayyeh “expressed …his appreciation and thanks to the government and people of Germany for their generous and continuous support and continuing commitment to the rights of the Palestinian people to liberation, independence, and to establish their independent Palestinian state on the 1967 borders with Jerusalem as its capital, and the right of return for refugees.”
Ach explained that the 100 million was merely an installment of a planned three billion Euro spending plan by 2030, designed to advance the creation of a Palestinian state, with different countries being allocated different areas in which to concentrate their funds.
France had been allotted the area between Efrat and Tekoa, he said, while Belgium had been given Gush Etzion. Included among the land parcels is east Jerusalem. Once handed their parcel, each country is expected to draw up a plan for development, and authorize a budget for construction.
Ach added that the EU nations are already sending over architects, construction experts and so on to facilitate the building without co-ordinating with the Israeli government, despite Israel being the ruling authority. “They don’t care about such niceties,” Ach said. “They do whatever they want, regardless.”
Such activities are not new. A 2015 report by Regavim found that the EU had already built more than 400 illegal structures in the West Bank, and had placed an EU flag atop them in the belief that Israel would not demolish the buildings and spark a PR crisis.
The villages, at some 17 locations across the West Bank, were referred to locally as ‘EU settlements”
Shadi Othman, a spokesman for the EU in the West Bank and Gaza, told the UK’s Daily Mail at the time: ‘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.
“Palestinians have a right to live there, build schools there, have economic development. This is part of the work done to build the future Palestinian state which will live side by side with Israel. It’s an international and EU interest to protect the viability of the two state solution.”
He added: “If some people are complaining about this, we should not forget the illegal Israeli settlements that are built on occupied Palestinian territory and are illegal under international law and constitute an obstacle to peace.”
The report by Regavim said that EU support for the PA had moved “passive diplomatic and financial assistance to a situation of active cooperation in illegal building which the Palestinian Authority has been advancing unilaterally since 2000, as part of its strategic plan to create a Palestinian state de facto, while avoiding the need for negotiations with Israel.”
Ach noted: “Plenty of money has already been transferred. What’s different in 2021 is that they made the decision to move from pilot plan to implementation, and then wait to see the Israeli response to actual construction. This is now happening before our very eyes.”
Last year, Israel indicated plans to annex parts of the West Bank where Jewish settlements were already established, making those towns fully sovereign. Residents of the established towns have raised concerns that their homes could be taken away in a future peace agreement.
European leaders reacted sharply. Germany’s Bundestag passed a motion declaring the annexation plan illegal with Foreign Minister Heiko Maas insisting “Peace cannot be achieved by unilateral steps.”
French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian meanwhile said that annexation would have consequences. “Annexation of Palestinian territories, whatever the perimeters, would seriously throw into question the parameters to resolve the conflict,” Le Drian told a parliamentary hearing, according to Die Welt. “An annexation decision could not be left without consequences and we are examining different options at a national level and also in coordination with our main European partners.”
The UK’s Boris Johnson also chimed in, claiming “Annexation would represent a violation of international law, [and] would put in jeopardy the progress that Israel has made in improving relationships with the Arab and Muslim world.”
Source: World Israel News