Fifteen European countries, including France, Germany and Italy, are asking Israel on Friday to reconsider a project to build more than 4,000 homes in the West Bank. “We are deeply concerned by the decision of the Israeli Planning Council to advance plans for the construction of more than 4,000 housing units in the West Bank. We call on the Israeli authorities to reverse this decision”write the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of these fifteen countries in a joint press release.
They ask the Israelis to “not to carry out the planned demolitions or evictions, in particular at Masafer Yatta”. Israeli NGOs on Thursday criticized the rejection by the Israeli Supreme Court of petitions from Palestinians threatened with eviction in a desert area of the occupied West Bank, considered by the Israeli army as a training area.
“An additional obstacle to a two-state solution”
The day before, the highest Israeli court had agreed with the army by ruling that the area of Massafer Yatta, where 12 Palestinian villages are located in the Judean desert, at the southern end of the West Bank, constituted a shooting range since 1980. This decision thus opens the way to the possible expulsion of the inhabitants and the construction of housing for possible settlers.
“The new housing units would be an additional obstacle to a two-state solution”, warn the heads of diplomacy of the fifteen countries – France, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Poland, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Spain and Sweden. According to them, “Israeli settlements are a clear violation of international law and prevent a just, lasting and comprehensive peace between Israelis and Palestinians”. This European position came during the funeral of journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, who was shot in the head in the occupied West Bank where she was covering an Israeli military raid, against a backdrop of persistent violence.