The European Union is funding an unauthorized Palestinian road to the Dead Sea in Area C of the West Bank to help annex that area to the Palestinian Authority, said the non-governmental group Regavim.
The group, which monitors illegal Palestinian construction, is scheduled to give a presentation on the matter to Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee’s sub-group on Judea and Samaria.
It also petitioned the High Court of Justice last month against the road, the first 20 kilometers of which are under construction.
At present, the road is designed to be an access route from homes in the Palestinian village of Teqoa to nearby agricultural lands. Some eight kilometers of the road have been laid out in preparation for the pouring of cement.
But Regavim has charged that it is just the first phase of a much larger infrastructure project.
“It’s like a snake that is hiding in the grass,” said Oved Arad, who is in charge of Regavim’s land division “We’re talking about what will be a highly strategic road,” Arad said.
“When a road like this is built by the PA with EU funding, it allows it the [PA] to rule over a large area in the Judean desert and annex it,” he explained. “The State of Israel can’t afford to give up on this territory and it certainly can’t allow foreign governments to break the law in this way.”
For the past six months, Regavim has appealed to the Civil Administration to halt the project, but to date nothing has happened.
It then asked the High Court of Justice to force the Civil Administration to enforce the law. The High Court has given the state until the 18th of this month to respond to the petition.
Area C of the West Bank is under Israeli military and civil rule. All construction projects, including roads and infrastructure for the Palestinian villages in that area, must be authorized by the Civil Administration.
The Palestinians have complained that such authorizations are few and far between. The EU and US have increasingly called on Israel to assist Palestinian development in Area C.
The EU considers Israel’s presence there to be illegal under international law, saying European activities fall within the category of humanitarian assistance. In the past few years, it has increased its activity in that area. In particular, it has skirted the Civil Administration and provided Palestinians with illegal modular housing.
Arad said that in the past half year, it has begun investing in more permanent projects such as roads.
The office of the EU Representative to the Palestinian territories had no immediate comment on the matter.