The issue of European Union funding of Palestinian construction in Area C of Yehuda and Shomron erupted in a session of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, where MK Moti Yogev demanded an inquiry.
“The IDF has failed to tackle the issue of illegal Palestinian building, particularly those projects funded by the European Union,” Yogev charged in a meeting of the subcommitte on Yehuda and Shomron on Wednesday. The area is under the control of Israel’s Civil Administration.
“Officers in uniform are not doing their job, and we will insist on a commission of inquiry to deal with it,” Yogev (Jewish Home) he said angrily.
The hundreds, if not thousands, of illegal Palestinian homes “is simply construction terrorism directed by the Palestinian Authority with funding from the European Union that amounts to “110 million euros annually,” he added.
The meeting came less than a day after the NGO Regavim accused the EU of financing an access road in the Palestinian village of Teqoa to nearby agricultural lands in Area C.
Civil administration deputy head Uri Mendes answered Yogev, saying that his office is cracking down on illegal Palestinian building. It is destroying all such structures, except for those under adjudication.
He explained that there is illegal building on the part of both Israelis and Palestinians in Area C. In 2014, 904 illegal structures were built, of which 408 were destroyed, Mendes said.
Merav Ettinger, the legal adviser for the Yehuda and Shomron police, indicated that Mendes’ office has not been as vigorous in dealing with the problem as it should have been.
“Enforcement [of building laws] is a top priority for us. We are disappointed that the civil administration has not asked for more help from us on this matter,” she said.
Foreign Ministry Department for European Organizations director Avivit Bar-Ilan told the subcommittee that her office has repeatedly raised the matter with the Europeans, but they have brushed off complaints on the grounds that these activities are humanitarian aid to the Palestinians.
MK Shuli Moalem-Refaeli (Jewish Home) asked: “Why are we letting EU equipment into Area C?” she asked. “Why aren’t we confiscating it? You are talking and talking. I have never heard so many words that amount to nothing. Such behavior is intolerable. If you can’t do your work, you should return your keys.”
At this point, the discussion reportedly broke down into a shouting match.
Meanwhile, Arutz Sheva reported that the Civil Administration demolished nine illegal Palestinian structures in the region during the past week, as well as five illegal structures built by Israelis.
The buildings were located in the outposts of Ma’oz Esther, Geulat Tzion, and the village of Nahliel, all in the Shomron.