Gaza,(DRAH.ps)-- The European Parliament’s Delegation for relations with Palestine urged the European Union (EU) to act urgently and decisively to prevent the demolition of Khan al-Ahmar, a Bedouin refugee community in the occupied West Bank.
“The Delegation has visited Khan al-Ahmar recently whilst on mission to Palestine and met the community there. 140 people, more than half of them children and already living in precarious conditions, are under threat of losing their homes in the rain and cold of winter. The EU must act now to ensure that these people can keep their homes,” Neoklis Sylikiotis, head of the delegation, urged in a recent letter to EU high representative Federica Mogherini.
“This Delegation would firmly and unequivocally support the EU in strong and humane action to defend this community,” Sylikiotis stressed.
Last Sunday, the community was given a seven-day deadline for self-demolition. If they did not demolish their own homes, the Israeli army’s civil administration would forcibly demolish the structures.
Khan al-Ahmar is in an area earmarked for illegal Israeli settlement expansion, and has strategic importance to preserve the continuity of a future Palestinian state.
"These demolition orders and similar ones by the Israeli authorities have a sole objective: to enlarge the settlements and divide the West Bank. We strongly oppose all actions that are part of the annexation policy of Israel," Sylikiotis said.
“The EU has stated repeatedly its position for the two-state solution. We have also re-iterated that settlements are illegal under international law and an obstacle to peace between Israel and Palestine. The EU must act decisively to defend our positions which are based on international law,” he added.
“The forcible transfer of these people would be a grave breach of the Fourth Geneva Convention. Israel must observe its duties as the occupying power under international law and stop settlement expansion and construction.”
The delegation also denounced the decision of the EU’s foreign affairs council to proceed with the preparation for the association council with Israel.
“The EU must hold Israel to the standards and values on which it is built, and not press onward with deepening relations whilst at the same time condemning settlements and demolitions. We must be coherent in our action,” the delegation chief said. “If Israel wishes to be considered a democratic country to the standard to which the EU holds itself to be democratic, it must actually respect international law in the Occupied Palestinian Territory and Palestinian human rights, and cease its flagrant violations of both.”
Pressure on Palestinian Bedouin communities has increased significantly in 2017. According to the UN, the Israeli authorities have demolished 172 Palestinian structures in Area C and east Jerusalem. 289 people have been displaced and almost 4,000 others have been greatly affected.