Written question to the European Commission
At a Foreign Affairs and Defence Committee hearing in the Israeli Knesset on 13 August 2020, a Civil Administration official described new legal instruments which have allowed Israeli authorities to expand the demolition and seizure of Palestinian homes and structures, including EU-funded aid projects.
Priority areas for action against the Palestinian presence in Area C include areas surrounding Jerusalem, Ma’ale Adumim and the E1 area, the South Hebron Hills and the Jordan Valley.
On 11 September 2020, NIS 20 million were allocated to map ‘unauthorised Palestinian construction’ in Area C – the first time that funds have been allocated for such a survey under the state budget.
Given that the monthly average number of demolitions is higher this year despite the coronavirus pandemic than during the previous peak in 2016, and in light of the dramatic spike in settlement expansion,
1. What concrete measures has the Commission taken to ensure financial compensation from Israel for the cost of demolished or seized EU-funded aid projects, including the potential deduction of this amount from EU-Israel bilateral support?
2. What are the EU’s red lines regarding Israeli activity in the above-mentioned priority areas which may jeopardise the possibility of a two-state solution?
Answer given by Commissioner Lenarčič on behalf of the European Commission
The European Union (EU) has consistently and repeatedly reminded Israel of the need to meet its obligations under international law towards the Palestinian population in the West Bank, including in Area C and East Jerusalem.
The EU has reiterated on several occasions its strong opposition to Israel’s settlement policy and actions taken in this context, notably demolitions and confiscations including of EU funded assets , most recently during a debate at the European Parliament on 24 November 2020. Two recent statements specifically refer to the Israeli demolitions of Palestinian structures, including residential, livelihood and sanitation facilities, as well as the threat of demolition of the school in Ras Al-Teen.
On a number of occasions, Israel has also been requested to restitute, or compensate for, EU funded assets which have been demolished, dismantled or confiscated. In 2020, 114 EU funded structures were concerned.
Moreover, the EU is engaging in public advocacy that includes visits of the EU Representative in the occupied Palestinian territory, together with EU Member States Heads of Mission, to relevant sites in the Area C of the occupied Palestinian territory.
Further measures to protect EU investments are presently being considered.