Press statement on the EP plenary debate on West Bank displacement and demolitions, including of EU-funded projects
"In the occupied West Bank, you can almost taste the dust from demolished homes in the air," Martina Anderson, Chair of the Delegation for relations with Palestine, told EU High Representative Federica Mogherini and Members present for a late evening debate in the plenary of the European Parliament in Strasbourg last night.
Over 500 Palestinian homes and other structures have been bulldozed by Israeli authorities since the start of the year, Ms Anderson (GUE/NGL) said, noting the figures were already higher than those registered in all of 2015.
"These demolitions are a clear human rights violation, affecting thousands of Palestinians, and are an obstacle to peace. They are part of a deliberate strategy to displace Palestinians out of the West Bank and make way for more illegal Israeli settlements," Ms Anderson stated.
The Chair of the delegation for relations with Palestine slammed the structured dialogue launched by the EU with Israel last year, with the goal of ending demolitions. Two meetings have taken place between EU and Israeli representatives, but despite this dialogue "Israel has increased its demolitions, especially of EU-funded structures. It breaks up solar panels, it flattens water tanks, and it bulldozes classrooms, playgrounds and basic shelters!"
Addressing the High Representative, Chair Anderson said "you can almost see Israel sneer at you Ms Mogherini, you can almost hear them shout at you 'and what are you going to do about it?' Because unfortunately, Israel knows the answer is nothing, and it is going be nothing in six months' time".
"This outrage must stop. We have to prevent Israel from acting with impunity. It is wrong. The Palestinian people need your help, they need action, and they need it now," Ms Anderson concluded.
First Vice Chair Marita Ulvskog (S&D) called "totally unacceptable" the destruction of "homes, children's schools, and vital infrastructure".
Ms Ulvskog urged the EU High Representative to declare that the EU-Israel Association Council should not be convened until Israel has stopped this massive destruction.
"And I would urge you to demand compensation. The EU cannot stand by and watch the Israeli authorities conduct a policy of displacing people from the area, tearing down and destroying everything the EU and the EU member states have helped to build through development aid ".
Ms Ulvskog called on the High Representative to declare how much money these demolitions are costing the EU. Condemnation for violations of international law only in words was not enough, she said, it has to come with "political and economic consequences".
Second Vice-Chair Margrete Auken (Greens) called attention to the EU flag that can often be seen in the mounds of rubble left in the wake of Israeli bulldozers.
"The EU's response to these systematic violations of international law and direct attacks against EU funded projects has been profoundly inept," Ms Auken stated. "The so-called structured dialogue is a farce, which only serves to hide the lack of political will of the EU to address the core of the problem: that of occupation and settlement expansion".
Ms Auken called on the High Representative "to publish the reality of the destruction of EU projects, to claim compensation and to deduct this loss from the EU assistance to Israel, notably from Horizon 2020".
The European Parliament should immediately send a fact-finding mission to the West Bank in order to assess the situation on the ground, Ms Auken stated.