The European Union rebuked Israel on Friday, condemning the Jewish state for the demolition of illegal Arab buildings and demanding Israel refrain from further demolitions.
In a statement released by the local Office of the European Union Representative, the EU slammed Israel over the planned eviction of Bedouin squatters who established illegal settlements in the northern Jordan Valley in eastern Israel over the past decade.
Ein al-Hilweh and Umm Jamal, home to an estimated 400 Bedouin squatters, were first established in the mid-2000s. The two illegal settlements, which have sprawled around roads and intersections, have hindered traffic in the area, and have been deemed a safety hazard.
In addition, the settlement of Umm Jamal has expanded to cover part of a nearby IDF firing range, interfering with IDF operations and endangering the squatters themselves.
Nevertheless, the EU ordered Israel to nix the planned demolition of the two illegal communities, as well as the planned eviction of squatters in Jabal al-Baba, an illegal settlement near the town of Maaleh Adumim. The EU local representative also demanded Israel end “settlement construction and expansion”.
“In line with its long standing position on this issue, and reiterating its strong opposition to Israel's settlement policy and actions taken in this context, including demolitions and confiscations, evictions and forced transfers including of Bedouins, which all threaten the two-state solution, the EU calls upon the Israeli authorities to halt demolitions of Palestinian houses and property, in accordance with its obligations as an occupying power under international humanitarian law, and to cease the policy of settlement construction and expansion, of designating land for exclusive Israeli use and of denying Palestinian development.”
“The recent military orders against Palestinians in the communities of Ein al-Hilweh and Umm Jamal in the Northern Jordan valley and the community of Jabal al-Baba are leaving properties of up to 400 persons at risk of seizure and demolition.”
The EU also noted that it had funded the construction of several illegal structures used as schools which lost appeals before the Supreme Court and could also face demolition.
“Last month four other herding communities covering 170 people in the Northern Jordan Valley lost their case at the Israeli High Court and two European donor-funded schools in Wadi as Seeq and Al Muntar are presently under threat of destruction and seizure.”
“We are also deeply concerned about the intention of the Israeli authorities to demolish around a fifth of the housing and infrastructure in Susiya in the South Hebron Hills within the coming weeks. As winter arrives, an imminent demolition will leave up to 100 people, half of them children, without shelter.”
The 28-member European Union has substantially increased its support for the establishment of illegal Arab towns in Judea and Samaria in recent years, particularly in Area C, which is under full Israeli authority.
According to a report by Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely (Likud) in February 2016, the EU had built over 1,000 illegal structures in Judea and Samaria. Of those 1,000 buildings, 400 were built from 2012 to 2014, while 600 more were built in 2015 alone.