The Israeli Foreign Ministry on Wednesday summoned the Deputy European Union Ambassador Mark Gallagher for a clarification after the EU accused Israel of demolishing Palestinian homes in Area C of the West Bank.
According to a report on the website of Israel’s Channel 20, Gallagher was summoned after the ministry’s director-general, Yuval Rotem, came under a barrage of protest from EU diplomats over the claim that Israel is demolishing Palestinian homes.
The director of the European Union department at the Foreign Ministry, Avivit Bar Ilan, told Gallagher that the construction in the village of Khan el Ahmar, near Ma’ale Adumim northeast of Jerusalem, was illegal.
Area C of the West Bank constitutes the territories in which Israel has full security and municipal control. The division of the West Bank to Areas A (full PA control), B (PA municipal control but Israeli security control) and C was decided as part of the 1995 Oslo Accords.
According to the report, many homes in the Palestinian village were funded by the EU. “Illegal construction in Israel will be handled according to Israeli law,” Bar Ilan told Gallagher.
Israel, Bar Ilan added, was baffled by the EU’s obsessive preoccupation with Israel and with the demolition of illegal homes built with EU money in Judea and Samaria, the Hebrew term for the West Bank.
“There are 32 humanitarian crises around the world, but the European Union is disproportionately preoccupied only with what is happening in Area C, where there is no doubt that no such crisis exists,” Bar Ilan told Gallagher.
On Tuesday, the EU demanded that Israel cease demolishing illegal homes built in Area C out of concern that this may forcibly transfer the Arabs living there, a violation of the Geneva Convention.
The message was conveyed by Lars Faaborg-Andersen, the EU Ambassador to Israel, to Yuval Rotem, the freshly installed director general at the Israeli Foreign Ministry.
Rotem held a meeting last week with ambassadors from all EU member countries. The meeting held in Tel Aviv was intended to be a routine briefing but instead Faaborg-Andersen read the EU’s censure to Rotem. In his comments, Faaborg-Andersen said his statement was drafted by the diplomatic entities of the EU and was representative of all 28 member states. In the statement from which he was reading, Israel was defined as the “occupying power,” Channel 20 reported.