The EU’s discrimination of Israel continues over housing demolitions

To fully absorb how shocking this finding is, one has to realize that housing demolitions and evictions are not only a world-wide phenomenon.

A PALESTINIAN man stands in front of a house in the village of Al-Walaja in 2018 after it was demolished by IDF troops.  (photo credit: MUSSA QAWASMA/REUTERS)
A PALESTINIAN man stands in front of a house in the village of Al-Walaja in 2018 after it was demolished by IDF troops.
Press the term “housing demolitions” in the European Union’s official search site yields a truly shocking finding: 18 of the first documents to appear for the term concern Israeli demolitions of Palestinian homes in Judea and Samaria. In other words, 80% of the EU’s reports on this worldwide phenomenon involve a population and an area mass less that one-tenth of 1% of the world’s population or its landmass.
To fully absorb how shocking this finding is, one has to realize that housing demolitions and evictions are not only a world-wide phenomenon, but that some of it is carried out in discriminating against minorities. A report by the EU itself – albeit in 2005 – acknowledges widespread discrimination in the EU against the Gypsies, Roma and Sinti in countries as varied as Italy, Ireland, Greece and Portugal – in terms of housing demolitions and evictions; only that these countries do not provide figures on the relative use of this tool between the minority and majority populations.
Of course, punitive housing demolition is hardly a phenomenon in the EU itself. India accuses Pakistan of discriminatory housing demolition in Hindu areas in Pakistan’s Punjab, with Pakistan claiming the same by Indian government authorities against India’s Muslim citizens. Egypt has been criticized for its eviction of thousands of Bedouin to facilitate housing projects for Egyptians outside Sinai in the peninsula, the Kurdish government has evicted Sunnis from Kurdish areas and local newspapers in the US frequently report evictions and demolitions against minorities, especially Blacks and native Americans, in the name of urban renewal – and the list is almost as long as the list of member states in the UN.
The difference is that one has to dig deep into the archives to come with discrimination in housing demolition and evictions elsewhere but in Israel. The EU’s limelight almost exclusively focuses on Israel.
Deviation from partiality, which the EU always claims it attempts to be, also shows up looking up the term in a Google search, with the same skewed results. The link between the two readily comes to mind: the news on housing demolitions in Judea and Samaria or among the Negev Bedouin are churned out by human rights groups supported either by the EU, its member states, or both. Thus, Google (and other new media) is enlisted by the EU to condemn Israel in a blatantly impartial and unfair way. These human rights organization are very inhuman regarding Israel.
Both the EU and the organizations they finance in their battle against Israel are loath to report that there are three times more housing evictions proportionately in member states of the EU on average than the people rendered homeless from Israeli housing demolitions in Judea and Samaria: In 2017, there was over one eviction for 1,000 Europeans (705,000 evictions in total); in the West Bank there was one eviction for 3,000 Palestinians.
But it’s not only a matter of numbers, but the accusations leveled against Israel that are alarming. “Demolitions of housing and livelihood and forced evictions are causing severe poverty” one EU-funded report stated, suggesting that these inhabitants waxed rich before Israeli rule.
Overlooked is that the 1,405 demolitions that have taken place since 2006 account for a mere one quarter of 1% of the total number of 515,300 dwellings in the West Bank so that demolitions can hardly explain widespread poverty in any area of Judea and Samaria.
In any event, new housing construction dwarfs housing demolitions with 8,690 housing units being constructed annually against a mere 108 demolitions many of which involve the sealing of only parts of the unit according to data extrapolated from the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics and provided by B’Tselem, an Israeli human rights organization funded by the EU and dedicated “to ending the occupation.”
Ironically, the EU’s pressure on Israel not to demolish homes, which probably explains the relative paucity of housing demolitions in the West Bank, harms rather than promotes the welfare of the Palestinian inhabitants.
A telling example is Ras Shahadah and the illegal building of hundreds of apartment buildings in northern Jerusalem funded to create a residential continuity between the southern and northers parts of the West Bank (Judea and Samaria) and prevent plans to construct the E1 neighborhood that would create a residential continuity between Ma’aleh Adumim and Jerusalem.
Palestinians reports acknowledge the ecological disaster unfolding – the lack of travel arteries, green spaces and the proximity of the buildings to reduce infrastructure costs in Ras Shahadah– and the fears what would happen if an earthquake of any magnitude were to take place in an area prone to such disasters.
For the EU, what is impartiality or the welfare of individual Palestinian inhabitants when it comes to creating the Palestinian state that will be perennially divided between a one-party fiefdom in Judea and Samaria and another one-party state in Gaza governed by fundamentalists.
This is what the world really needs according to the EU – another failed state like Lebanon, and if takes a deeply skewed reporting of housing demolitions (amongst many other things) as part of demonizing Israel, the historical scapegoat – so be it.
The writer is a senior research associate at the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies.