Following an NGO expose, PM Netanyahu on Friday ordered the demolition of 400 Palestinian homes built illegally with direct funding from the EU.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Friday ordered the dismantling of 400 Palestinian homes that were built illegally in Israeli-controlled areas in Judea and Samaria with direct funding from the European Union (EU).

Regavim, an Israeli NGO monitoring illegal use of Israeli state lands, reveals that the EU invested tens of millions of euros into homes for Palestinians who had not received building permits by the Israeli government.

Official EU documentation, acquired by Regavim and exposed last week in the UK-based Daily Mail, states that the buildings were intended to “pave the way for development and more authority of the Palestinian Authority (PA) over [Israeli-controlled] Area C,” raising concerns that the supposedly neutral EU is again taking sides in favor of the Palestinians.

Direct Violation of Oslo Accords

Under the Oslo Accords between Israel and the PA, the West Bank (Judea and Samaria) is divided into the A, B, and C zones. The PA maintains political and security administration over Area A, Israel has total control of Area C, and they share responsibility for Area B. Therefore, joint EU-PA projects in Area C area direct contravention of the Accords.

The PA has apparently been working for many years to grab land from Israel through construction and other methods, in blatant breach of the agreements with Israel.

“This is part of the work done to build the future Palestinian state which will live side by side with Israel,” Shadi Othman, a communications officer at the Office of the European Union Representative in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, told the Daily Mail. “Palestinians have a right to live there, build schools there, have economic development.”

The EU wrote in its September 2014 update to the Humanitarian Implementation Plan for Palestine: “The European Union and the PA are now actively participating in the planning and zoning of Area C which, if successful, could pave the way for development and more authority of the PA over Area C.”

According to Regavim, “The EU has been flouting international law and backing illegal West Bank settlements after all. In fact, it’s been funding and building them directly. Only these West Bank settlements aren’t for Jews, they’re for Palestinians. So apparently the rules don’t apply.”

Maja Kocijancic, a Brussels-based EU spokesperson, initially denied that such EU plans even existed. “To date, no construction has started yet… The EU is not funding illegal projects,” she claimed.

However, a newly released report by Regavim documents the illegal EU construction, which has EU flags and signs all over it. Kocijancic declined to remark on the photos.

Ari Briggs, international director of Regavim and the report’s principal author, told the Daily Mail that the EU and Oxfam were using the project as a “Trojan horse” to undercut Israeli control of Area C.


In a discussion with United with Israel, Briggs noted the EU’s “shift in tactic” in the past couple of years. Whereas the EU used to give money to the PA to use however it wished, the Europeans are now funding construction directly, through their own NGOs. They’re “totally involved in the whole process,” Briggs stated. They are “totally on board, doing it themselves in conjunction with the Palestinians.”

Asked if he expects any major change in Israeli government policy as a result of Regavim’s expose, which was widely reported in mainstream media, Briggs said that “nothing is going to happen” in the short term.

“Exposing the information is very important, and the government is being reached at the highest level, but the Supreme Court has been involved from Day One. Since 2009 it has not allowed the government to demolish these structures until they find a suitable location. The government is working on it.”

Regavim Will Continue the Struggle

“We understand the limitations put on the government by the Supreme Court,” Briggs said. “We have decided to take the fight to the EU…based on their breaking their own treaty of not respecting other countries’ sovereignty [and] not respecting international law.”

Regavim will continue the struggle “to ensure that something is done.”

The media exposure was “100 percent” a boost. “We understand that in the next few days there will be more stories. Keeping people aware is the biggest challenge that we face,” he said.

James Carver, a British Member of the European Parliament, for the West Midlands region, wrote a letter this week to the Parliament’s Committee on Foreign Affairs, condemning the “illegal” project

“The structures all bear the name and flag of the EU, and official EU agents have been photographed participating in overseeing the construction, so the active involvement of the EU can hardly be denied. I kindly call upon you to do your utmost to bring an end to these illegal and destructive activities,” he stated.

Yariv Levin, head of the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Defense committee, accused the EU of duplicity, the Daily Mail reports. “It is hypocritical of the EU to criticize Israeli construction while at the same time actively supporting and practically taking part in illegal Palestinian settlement construction on Israeli land,” Levin asserted.

Professor Eugene Kontorovich, an international lawyer from the Northwestern University School of Law in Chicago, told the Daily Mail: “There’s no question, the EU is openly in violation of international law.”

Alan Baker, an international lawyer who was involved in drafting the Oslo Accords, said that the EU’s actions were illegal, the Daily Mail reports.

“The EU is a signatory to the Oslo Accords, so they cannot pick and choose when they recognize it,” Baker affirmed. “According to international law, all building in Area C must have permission from Israel, whether it is temporary or permanent. The same principle applies anywhere in the world. If you want to build, you need planning permission.

“The EU is ignoring international law and taking concrete steps to influence the facts on the ground,” Baker declared.

The EU has repeatedly censured Israel for construction in Jerusalem and elsewhere in Area C.

Just last week the EU condemned Israel for newly announced buildings plans. “Israel should reverse these decisions, thereby putting an end to settlement expansion,” the EU stated, claiming that building housing for the residents would be “inflaming the very tense situation on the ground.”

By United with Israel Staff

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