Britain, Germany condemn Israel for demolishing illegal homes

Britain and Germany add their voices to international condemnation of Israel over demolition of illegal Arab homes near Jerusalem.

Ben Ariel ,

Israeli forces demolish illegal Arab apartment buildings in Sur Baher, Jerusalem
Israeli forces demolish illegal Arab apartment buildings in Sur Baher, Jerusalem

Britain and Germany on Tuesday added their voices to international condemnation of Israel over the demolition of illegal Palestinian Arab homes near Jerusalem, saying the destruction was "particularly egregious", AFP reports.

The five European Union members of the UN Security Council, which also include France, Belgium and Poland, released a statement following a council meeting on the Middle East.

"We as member states of the European Union strongly condemn the demolition by Israel of Palestinian buildings in the district of Wadi al Hummus, in the south east of Jerusalem," they said.

"In all but the most exceptional of circumstances, demolition in occupied territories is contrary to International Humanitarian Law and to UNSC resolutions," the statement added.

The EU countries said demolitions cause "unnecessary suffering to ordinary Palestinians and is harmful to the peace process."

Israeli forces on Monday morning sealed off and began demolishing ten of the over 100 illegally-built structures erected in defiance of a 2011 Israeli Civil Administration order barring construction near the security fence.

The apartment buildings were built in the Wadi al-Hummus neighborhood of Sur Baher, an Arab enclave located almost entirely in Jerusalem.

The strip of land in Wadi al-Hummus area where the illegal structures are located, however, is just outside of the municipal borders of Jerusalem, but on the Jerusalem side of the security fence.

The move was already condemned on Monday by the European Union, which said the demolitions undermine the “viability of the two-state solution”.

France issued a condemnation of its own on Monday, before Tuesday’s joint condemnation of the European Security Council members, saying the destruction set a "dangerous precedent" and violated international law.

In Tuesday’s statement, the five EU countries -- plus Estonia which is a forthcoming EU member of the Security Council -- described the demolitions as "particularly egregious."

They noted that several of the buildings were located in areas meant to be under Palestinian Authority civilian control under the Oslo accords of the 1990s.

"They set a dangerous precedent that directly jeopardizes the two state solution," the statement read, according to AFP.

The Palestinian Authority, meanwhile, accused Israel of carrying out a massacre and called on the international community “to intervene immediately and bring an end to Israeli aggression.”