“Israel must foot the bill for destruction of EU-funded projects”
Palestinians search through the rubble of their destroyed homes hit by Israeli strikes in the northern Gaza strip. Image from UN Photo via flickr
SNP MEP Alyn Smith, Member of the Foreign Affairs Committee has had officially confirmed the shocking scale of destruction of EU-funded projects in the Occupied Palestinian Territories and condemned the continuation of Israeli Government’s policy of demolitions and confiscations.
Six months after a ceasefire was declared between the Israeli military and Hamas, information obtained from the European Commission has revealed that more than €1,567 million of EU humanitarian aid has funded projects that remain at risk of demolition while tens of thousands of people still have no shelter and lack essential infrastructure such as electricity and water.
“In response to my enquiry, Vice-President Mogherini has confirmed that in October 2014 alone, four EU-funded structures were demolished across the West Bank. Additionally, a stop-work order was served upon nine EU projects, including three schools, four mobile latrines and one drinking fountain in a Bedouin community in the Jerusalem periphery.
“Is anyone seriously thinking that these actions are aimed at protecting and reducing security risk to the state of Israel? It’s about time we admit we are making very little progress in the peace negotiations between Israel and Palestine. We also must acknowledge the fact that the Israeli Government continue to undermine any progress made by destroying what the international community is trying to rebuild. We find ourselves in a deadlock, and we’re not getting any closer to finding a long-term solution.
“While the EU is trying to assess the damage to the humanitarian projects sponsored by the Member States and the Union directly, the Israeli Government is planning further demolitions and confiscations, and this is on top of the direct damage caused by the latest seven-week war.
“Six months on, Palestinians in Gaza are still living in rubble and the little help that they receive is being systematically destroyed, despite the EU Foreign Ministers' call upon Israel to reverse its decisions and put an end to its policy of demolitions, which run counter to international law and directly threaten the two state solution.
“Also, humanitarian organisations working on the ground are calling for donors, who keep footing the bill to rebuild Gaza, to insist that Israel lifts unjustified restrictions that are worsening a grim humanitarian situation and needlessly punishing civilians. “So far, a series of legal and political obstacles, such as the fact that the ownership of founded-structures is normally transferred to the final beneficiary and not retained by the EU, have prevented the EU form obtaining compensation. However, solution to this problem must be found and I’m sure that when faced with possible compensation claims Israel would think twice before destroying projects sponsored by the European taxpayers.”
You can access Alyn’s questions to the EU Commission on the destruction of EU projects here.
The Commission’s answer can be found here.