Settlement construction 260 R.
(photo credit: REUTERS/Baz Ratner )
RAMALLAH, West Bank - A group of 80 international aid agencies
urged the European Union on Saturday to follow through on pledges it made last
year to back Palestinian communities seen as vulnerable to Israeli settlement
expansion in the occupied West Bank.
Not enough action has been taken
since EU foreign ministers last May urged Israel to ease curbs to growth on
Palestinian villages and criticized its settlement policies, the Association of
International Development Agencies (AIDA) said in a report.
Foreign Secretary William Hague and US Secretary of State John Kerry visited
the West Bank this week to try to revive peace talks for an Israeli-Palestinian
two-state solution they say may become impossible with more settlement
More than 600 settler houses have been built since last May
while Israel demolished 535 Palestinian-owned homes and structures, including 30
built with EU funding, displacing 784 Palestinians, the AIDA report
It said Israel had approved plans to build 1,967 new settler homes
since last May, up four-fold from the year before.
"Israel is morally and
legally responsible for the well-being of Palestinian men, women and children ...
EU countries have an obligation to address violations of international law and
collectively put pressure on Israel to end policies impeding Palestinian
development," Tony Laurence of Medical Aid for Palestinians wrote.
findings focus on a contiguous tract making up around two-thirds of the West
Bank dubbed "Area C". Interim 1993 peace accords put the area under full Israeli
military and civil control. Palestinians got smaller, disparate patches to
The division was meant to be temporary and last only a few years
pending a pact ending the conflict. That has not happened.
Palestinians, many of them poor farmers and shepherds, along with 325,000
Israeli settlers live in Area C.Impasse over territory
all of the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem - lands captured by Israel in the
1967 Middle East War - for a future independent state. Israel has agreed in
principle to Palestinian statehood but wants to keep all of Jerusalem as its
undivided capital along with blocs of West Bank settlements.
powers do not recognize Israeli sovereignty in East Jerusalem and deem the
The EU last year called for "halting forced transfer
of population and demolition of Palestinian housing and infrastructure,
simplifying administrative procedures to obtain building permits ... and
addressing humanitarian needs".
Since then, AIDA said, Israel has
rejected 94 percent of Palestinian requests to build in Area C. Israel has yet
to approve 32 EU-funded "master plans" to develop Palestinian villages filed
since 2009, holding up the projects, AIDA said.
In April, Kerry pledged
to unfurl within a week
a US-backed investment initiative to support
Palestinians in Area C. The plan appears to be stalled due to Israeli
Israel has made clear it will not permit independent
Palestinian economic development in Area C.
"It was very clear in the
(1993 interim) Oslo Accords ... that Israel has control of the economy and
security in Area C," Regional Cooperation Minister Silvan Shalom told
"I am not going to open the Oslo Accords just for resuming the
negotiations," he said in an interview on Tuesday.
In a statement to
Reuters, the EU mission in Jerusalem said the EU had driven international
efforts to get Israel to meet commitments on Palestinian living conditions in
Area C but any change hinged on Israeli "engagement on this issue".