The European Union (EU) made a statement calling on Israel to stop the demolition of Palestinian houses on Saturday, reiterating its opposition to Israeli settlement expansion in occupied Palestinian territories.
“In the past weeks there have been a number of developments in Area C of the West Bank, which risk undermining the viability of a future Palestinian state and driving the parties yet further apart,” said the statement made by the EU on the latest developments in Area C of the occupied Palestinian territories.
In the statement the EU refers specifically to a decision made by Israeli authorities Jan. 25 to declare 154 hectares of land near Jericho in the occupied West Bank as state land.
Local Palestinian residents believe this annexation will result in nearby settlement expansion, Jordan Valley Solidarity organisation told Palestine Monitor.
The EU statement also condemned Israel’s Feb. 3 demolition of Palestinian structures in the south of the occupied West Bank city of Hebron, which included EU funded structures.
“EU humanitarian activities are carried out in full accordance with international law, with the sole aim of providing humanitarian support to most vulnerable people. We call on Israeli authorities to reverse the decisions taken and to halt further demolitions,” the statement added.
According to Israeli organisation B’Tselem, these recent demolitions left 60 people homeless, including 32 minors.
From 2006 until August 2015, Israel demolished at least 972 Palestinian residential units in the occupied West Bank, causing 4,319 people to lose their homes, data collected by the same organisation shows. These statistics do not include East Jerusalem.
The majority of demolitions happen in Area C, which is under full Israeli control. Palestinian landowners must have building permits from Israeli authorities to live and build there.
According to a statement made by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs last year, “official data released by the Israeli authorities indicate that over 11,000 demolition orders – affecting an estimated 17,000 Palestinian-owned structures – including homes, are currently ‘outstanding’ in Area C of the West Bank.”
“These orders heighten the vulnerability of thousands of poor Palestinian households, some of whom are at imminent risk of forcible displacement,” the statement added.[Source: Palestine Monitor]