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European states, UN urge Israel to halt arbitrary demolitions in West Bank

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Israeli workers dismantle tents during a demolition operation of a Palestinian Bedouin encampment in the area of Humsa, east of the village of Tubas in the north of the occupied West Bank, on February 22, 2021. (Photo by AFP)

The United Nations as well as European member states of the UN Security Council have called on Israel to stop its ongoing demolitions of Palestinian homes and buildings of Bedouin communities in the occupied West Bank.

Palestine’s official Wafa news agency reported on Sunday that Estonia, France, Ireland, Norway and Britain have expressed grave concern over Israel’s recent demolition of the community of Humsa al-Baqai'a, in the northern Jordan Valley, where 70 people or so are living, including 41 children.

We are “deeply concerned at the recent repeated demolitions and confiscation of items, including of EU and donor-funded structures carried out by Israeli authorities at Humsa al-Baqai'a in the Jordan Valley,” they said in a joint statement at the end of a monthly session of the Security Council on the conflict in the Middle East.

“We reiterate our call on Israel to halt demolitions and confiscations,” the statement said, calling on the Tel Aviv regime “to allow full, sustained and unimpeded humanitarian access” to the community of Humsa al-Baqai'a.

The statement further voiced firm opposition to Israel’s illegal settlement policy and actions taken in that context, such as forced transfers, evictions, demolitions and confiscations of homes and humanitarian assets, stressing that they are an impediment to the so-called two-state solution.

United Nations Humanitarian Coordinator for the occupied Palestinian territory Lynn Hastings has already said the Israeli demolition of Palestinian homes and evacuation of local residents and confiscation of their lands contravened international law, and were all in flagrant violation of human rights law. 

Hastings made the remarks on Tuesday, a day after she visited the Palestinian Bedouin community, where the homes and belongings of Palestinian families living there were either demolished or seized by Israel in an effort to drive them out of their lands.

The Palestinians living in the Jordan Valley regularly face evacuations due to Israeli military exercises in the region. Much of the Jordan Valley is fully controlled by the Israeli military.

Israeli authorities usually demolish Palestinian homes in the occupied West Bank, claiming that the structures have been built without permits, which are nearly impossible to obtain.

They also sometimes order Palestinian owners to demolish their own homes or pay the demolition costs to the municipality if they do not. 

The latest demolition has drawn widespread condemnation against the Israeli regime for exploiting the coronavirus crisis to press ahead with its campaign of razing Palestinian homes

Emboldened by former US president Donald Trump’s all-out support, Israel has stepped up its illegal settlement construction activities in defiance of United Nations Security Council Resolution 2334, which pronounced settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem al-Quds “a flagrant violation under international law.”

The international community regards the Israeli settler units in the occupied lands as illegal.

More than 600,000 Israelis live in over 230 settlements built since the 1967 Israeli occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem al-Quds. 

All Israeli settlements are illegal under international law. The UN Security Council has condemned Israel’s settlement activities in the occupied territories in several resolutions.

Palestinians want the West Bank as part of a future independent Palestinian state with East Jerusalem al-Quds as its capital.

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