The European Union is demanding that Israel compensate it for demolishing Arab buildings that were illegally built in Area C, which is under full Israeli control, Haaretz reported on Wednesday.
Eight EU countries have written an official protest letter to Israel, demanding over €30,000 ($35,400) in compensation for confiscating and demolishing the structures and infrastructure, according to the newspaper.
A senior European diplomat told Haaretz that the letter, which is the first of its kind, was expected to be delivered to senior Foreign Ministry officials within a few days.
Over the last few years, Israel has several times demolished structures built illegally for Arabs by European NGOs with funding from the European Union.
A report released last year found that 1,000 illegal Arab buildings in Judea and Samaria have been constructed with European funds in recent years – an increase of 450%.
According to the European diplomat who spoke to Haaretz, Belgium is leading the move to demand compensation from Israel for the demolitions.
The other countries involved in drafting the letter are France, Spain, Sweden, Luxembourg, Italy, Ireland and Denmark. All eight countries are members of the so-called “West Bank Protection Consortium”, a body through which they coordinate humanitarian assistance to Area C.
The countries were protesting the confiscation of solar panels they had installed in Bedouin communities and the demolition of mobile structures that were financed in various Bedouin communities to serve as classrooms.
The existence of the protest letter was first reported by the French newspaper Le Monde. In the letter, the eight countries stressed that if Israel does not unconditionally return the equipment it seized, they would demand compensation. The demolition and seizure of humanitarian equipment, including school infrastructure, and the interference in the transfer of humanitarian assistance contravenes Israel’s obligations under international law and causes suffering to the Palestinian residents, the letter threatened.
The letter is the second step these countries are taking on this issue, according to Haaretz. A month and a half ago, diplomats from the eight countries came to meet with the head of the Foreign Ministry’s Europe desk, Rodica Radian-Gordon, to protest Israel’s actions against Bedouin communities in Area C, the report said.
The countries involved in the illegal construction have consistently condemned Israel for the demolitions, even as it has been made clear to them that the demolition orders were issued because the structures were built without permission.