Palestinian PM in Area C calls for sanctions on Israel over demolitions

"Serious sanctions on Israel should be imposed because this Israeli occupation should have a serious price."

Palestinian Authority President Mohammed Shtayyeh is seen alongside EU Representative Sven Kühn von Burgsdorff is seen at the site of the illegal village of Khirbet Humsa, which the IDF demolished, on February 4, 2021. (photo credit: TOVAH LAZAROFF)
Palestinian Authority President Mohammed Shtayyeh is seen alongside EU Representative Sven Kühn von Burgsdorff is seen at the site of the illegal village of Khirbet Humsa, which the IDF demolished, on February 4, 2021.
(photo credit: TOVAH LAZAROFF)
Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Mohammed Shtayyeh called for international sanctions against Israel, while on a visit to the site of the illegal tent village of Khirbet Humsa that the IDF dismantled three times this week.
“Serious sanctions on Israel should be imposed because this Israeli occupation should have a serious price,” he said Thursday during his visit to Area C of the West Bank together with a European Union delegation. “If the Israeli occupation is not costly, then Israel will not stop its actions against our people.”
Standing in the middle of a green field surrounded by rocky hills in the Jordan Valley, Shtayyeh urged village residents to stand firm against Israel’s determination to relocate their small community, located in the middle of an IDF firing zone.
The Palestinians have argued that shepherds have lived at that site for many decades before Israel captured the area in 1967.
The international community, including the EU, which supports the presence of the village at the site, believes that whether it is illegal according to Israeli law is irrelevant because Israel issues very few permits for Palestinian structures in Area C.
The Israeli Right holds that the PA is supporting the presence of villages such as Khirbet Humsa because it wants to strengthen its hold on Area C, which the Right believes should be annexed to Israel.
Shtayyeh believes that Israel is looking to reduce the Palestinian population there to shore up its claims to eventual sovereignty.
Israel evacuated the village in November. When Palestinians erected new tents and huts at the site, the IDF returned on Monday and removed the tents. According to the Civil Administration, it had originally secured the village’s agreement to relocation, but then villagers reneged.
The Palestinians insist they never agreed to leave. They rebuilt huts, erected tents, and the IDF returned on Wednesday and evacuated them twice, once in the morning and again at night.
“What the people are facing is ethnic cleansing in every single meaning of the word,” Shtayyeh said. “We have seen these very acts by the Israeli government. We will continue to be here in full force, and we will support the people as needed. Palestinians have been here for thousands of years. This land is our land. We are here to protect it. We have been cultivating it. We have been faithful to it and we will continue to be so.”
He thanked EU representative Sven Kühn von Burgsdorff, who heads the EU mission to the Palestinians. His delegation included representatives from Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Spain and Sweden, as well as officials from Canada, Norway, Switzerland and the United Kingdom.
Shtayyeh said he hoped the Biden administration will also voice its opposition to Israeli demolition of Palestinian structures.
“I hope that with the new administration in Washington, with this enthusiasm of our European diplomats who are present here, things will be different,” Shtayyeh said.
Burgsdorff recalled that this was his second visit to the site, and that when he came in November he had expressed his concern about the “violations of humanitarian law.”
So far, the EU has not succeeded in halting such demolitions, he said.
The tents that had been placed at the site have been removed, which means that about 100 adults and 49 children are homeless in the middle of winter and a pandemic, Burgsdorff said.
He stated that “international law needs to be upheld by the occupying power.”
The EU will continue to offer support “through humanitarian aid and development aid” to the Palestinian population in Area C.
“You can count on our moral solidarity with you, because we are one people,” Burgsdorff said.
According to the United Nations, Israel demolished 665 Palestinian structures in Area C in 2020, and have already taken down 124 this year. In 2019, according to the UN, it removed 392 structures and in 2018 it took down 271.
Many of those structures were tents or huts, which Israel said were illegal.