News / Middle East

Israel Blocks EU Aid to West Bank Palestinians

Israeli police check Palestinians waiting to cross an Israeli checkpoint between the West Bank city of Ramallah and Jerusalem. July 26, 2013.
Israeli police check Palestinians waiting to cross an Israeli checkpoint between the West Bank city of Ramallah and Jerusalem. July 26, 2013.
Israel has blocked the European Union from aiding tens of thousands of Palestinians in the West Bank in retaliation for Brussels' ban on financial assistance to Israeli organizations in the occupied territories.

An Israeli official said on Friday the move was a result of the EU decision “to sanction or boycott the settlements”.

“From our standpoint we cannot just ignore this or treat spitting in our face as though it is rain,” the official said.

The EU imposed restrictions last week citing its frustration over the continued expansion of Jewish settlements in territory captured by Israeli forces in the 1967 Middle East War.

The guidelines render Israeli entities operating there ineligible for EU grants, prizes or loans, beginning next year.

Settler leaders say the aid they receive from Europe is minimal. But many in Israel worry about possible knock-on effects the EU steps may have on individuals or companies based in Israel that might be involved in business in the settlements, deemed illegal by the international community.

The Israeli official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon had decided to suspend contacts with the EU in the West Bank.

Yaalon, a former army chief and hardliner in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's Likud party, has “frozen projects, canceled meetings, curtailed coordination and permits for Europe's operations” for Palestinians living in what is known as Area C, a West Bank area fully administered by Israel, he said.

The EU expressed concern about the Israeli steps, which may hurt its humanitarian work for Palestinians, an EU source in Israel told Reuters.

The organization had not been formally notified of the Israeli measures and was seeking clarification, he said.

A Western diplomat, speaking on condition of anonymity, said several European humanitarian aid staff had had difficulty obtaining permits and some requests had gone unanswered.

Under the terms of a 1993 interim peace accord, some 150,000 Palestinians, many of then poor farmers and shepherds living in Area C, a West Bank zone where many settlements have been built, are fully under Israeli military control,

The Palestinians have limited self-rule over other parts of the West Bank, and share joint custody with Israel over yet other areas.

Some of Europe's assistance in the West Bank goes to Palestinians whose homes built with EU funding are demolished by Israel, often maintaining the structures were built illegally.

The Association of International Development Agencies, a coalition of 80 aid groups, said in a report in May that 600 settler houses had been built since mid-2012 while Israel demolished 535 Palestinian-owned homes and structures.

The United States, Israel's main backer, has been trying to revive peace talks that have been deadlocked for three years and aimed at reaching an agreement for the Palestinians to establish a state alongside Israel.

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Comment Sorting
by: Tom from: Jerusalem
July 29, 2013 12:58 PM
The settlements are as illegal as Turkish occupation if northern Cyprus, Morrocan occupation of the west African territory and the list goes on. The hateful hypocrites of Brussels are as arrogant as they are ignorant.

by: Ari Maayan from: USA
July 26, 2013 2:40 PM
Hee Hee. Turn about is fairplay
In Response

by: bruce from: USA
July 28, 2013 1:38 AM
TonyBellchambers from: London. You are skating the point of my post. Many EU countries are claiming ownership of massive areas of populated lands all over the globe.France recently rounded up hundreds of thousands of people of Romanian descent and kicked them out. Many had lived in France for multiple generations.Wheres the European outrage!!! Europe is violating there own so-called human rights laws and using Israeli as a diversion. To try to make a case the twelve tribes of Israel don't have the right to go back to there ancient homeland is just silly.What right do EU countries have claiming lands and territories all over the globe.It was ancient Europe that attacked and destroyed ancient Israel in the first place "and" in the 40's tried to finish the job by exterminating the entire European Jewish population of Europe. Once again,What historic right do EU countries have claiming lands and territories all over the globe? This has nothing to do with Palestinians today however, before Adolf Hitler and Mussolini decided to murder the entire Jewish population of Europe, The Grand Mufti of Palestine backed by most Arab nations paid Adolf Hitler a visit. The Islamic Nazi pact failed and, the entire Arab world refused to accept the UN mandate.The Arabs attacked, they lost. The surviving Jews from Europe and Arab countries went to Israel. Over 1 million Jews were forced from Arab countries and after multiple wars the Arab countries left the Palestinians to fend for themselves. Frankly, most of Europe's Aristocracy was involved in supporting the Nazi's and they are still using Europe's media system to create anti-semitism towards Jews and you are to blind to see it.The Palestinians are arguing with the Israeli government about 3G phones service and next door in Syria Assad is running his own people with a lawn mower and has killed over 100,000 civilians in two years. There is all this rage against Israel in Europe about the perceived injustice against Palestinian's and right under your nose you have an aristocracy stealing your money which is a clear form of oppression and rampant government sponsored racial discrimination all over Europe!!Just a few months ago the Church of Scotland posted that Jews have no right to go to Israel.I am not sure what book they are reading or not reading but The Bible is clear and I suggest You empty your cup and open your eyes.
Ezekiel 37:1-14
11 Then he said to me: “Son of man, these bones are the people of Israel. They say, ‘Our bones are dried up and our hope is gone; we are cut off.’ 12 Therefore prophesy and say to them: ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: My people, I am going to open your graves and bring you up from them; I will bring you back to the land of Israel. 13 Then you, my people, will know that I am the Lord, when I open your graves and bring you up from them. 14 I will put my Spirit in you and you will live, and I will settle you in your own land. Then you will know that I the Lord have spoken, and I have done it, declares the Lord.’”
Good luck Tony

In Response

by: Bruce from: USA
July 27, 2013 1:22 PM
With the EU in economic crisis,Greece and Ireland in financial collapse and, the UAE members like Saudi Arabia floating on a sea of oil and amassed wealth not seen in most of human history,"why" is Europe sending money and not these wealthy Arab countries???
I do not get this,EU countries claim land and territories all over the globe and have held on to them with military force against there indigenous population. The Faulkland Islands are a perfect example. Even the Koran says the land of Canaan belongs to the 12 tribes of Israel.Not to say, the Palestinians got the bum act.But the truth is, war after war without Arab compromise left about 1 million middle Eastern Jews expelled from Arab nations and welcomed to Israel and a million Palestinians in camps unwelcome in other Arab "brother" countries. Today, Israel is 25,000 square miles 1/5 the land of Canaan and 30% Muslim. On the other hand, the Arab nations represent 5 million square miles "and" in a large part of it Christians and Jews have run screaming for their lives even in the last few years towards the border of many of these countries.
In Response

by: TonyBellchambers from: London
July 27, 2013 3:42 AM

There is only one answer to these moves by the Israeli government that are intended to humiliate the EU.

That is for the European Union Commission to immediately take the initial steps to ABROGATE THE EU-ISRAEL ASSOCIATION AGREEMENT that gives he state of Israel access rights to trade with the 28 EU member states.

All bi-lateral trade should cease forthwith until such time as the Israeli state honours the human rights provisions of the agreement of which it is in gross breach. That MUST include the dismantling of all illegal settlements and the repatriation of all settlers back to their original homes in Israel.

Palestinian land that has a history going back over 1000 years must be returned to its rightful owners in accordance with the will of the United Nations, the European Union and the International Court.

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