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August 24, 2015 12:47 pm

West Bank Israeli Settlements Petition High Court Over EU-Funded ‘Illegal’ Structures for Bedouin

avatar by Eliezer Sherman

 A Bedouin encampment near the Ramat Hovav industrial zone in the Negev. Photo: Shay Levy/Flash90.

A Bedouin encampment near the Ramat Hovav industrial zone in the Negev. Photo: Shay Levy/Flash90.

Three Jewish settlements in the West Bank in the narrow corridor between Jerusalem and the Dead Sea have asked the High Court of Justice to demand that the state demolish 15 structures they claim were built illegally with the assistance of the European Union on the communities’ territories, Israel Radio reported on Monday.

The petitioners argued that the 15 structures were built using EU funds for Bedouin families as part of a larger plan to undermine Israeli sovereignty in these territories, which were captured by Israel during the 1967 Arab-Israeli war. The settlements themselves are not recognized under international law, though Israel disputes these claims.

The petitioners said the EU has provided and continues to provide Bedouin and Palestinians with hundreds of illegally constructed permanent structures “under the guise of humanitarian work.”

The three communities have petitioned the High Court of Justice three times — in 2010, 2011 and 2013 — to demolish 257 structures belonging to displaced Bedouin communities in the area, including one school. Each time, the court rejected the petitions, with the state claiming it intended to relocate the communities to an area north of Jericho.

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Israel demolished several EU-funded structures in east Jerusalem earlier this year, with AFP reporting that the EU had funded the construction of some 200 structures around and just outside Israel’s capital. The move sparked condemnation from the EU, which claimed the “temporary structures” were built to alleviate housing needs among “affected communities.”

Built on land claimed by Jersualem for a national park, it was Israel’s Nature and Parks Authority that initiated the demolition of these structures. Oxfam, an international NGO that operates in the Palestinian territories and which helped build the structures, claimed the houses were being built as part of a “humanitarian” effort, but Israeli NGO Regavim countered that the goal was ultimately the appropriation of public Israeli land.

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