Acting Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely today directly addressed the diplomatic tension between the European Union and the Israeli government surrounding EU-funded building in Judea and Samaria.
The EU’s decision to label Israeli products from Judea and Samaria and the IDFs demolition of EU-funded structures yesterday were the latest rounds in the diplomatic tiffs of recent months that the two parties are now seeking to address.
In response to a question by MK Bezalel Smotrich (Jewish Home) and Yoav Kish (Likud) about European building in the area in light of efforts to improve EU-Israeli relations, Hotoveli claimed that Judea and Samaria currently has 1,000 illegal structures.
“The stance of the government on the subject is that improved relations between the EU and Israel will not come at the expense of enforcing the law in Area C. The government of Israel has no intention of giving a green light to the building of illegal structures in a political effort to decide the borders of Israel,” Hotovely told the Knesset.
She added that Israel intends to enforce the law and demolish illegal structures but that the process is currently being delayed by the Israeli Supreme Court.
The EU communications officer in Jerusalem told Tazpit Press Service (TPS) that ten of the structures demolished by the IDF in Firing Zone 918 south of Hebron were EU-funded. “They were caravans and things like that intended for humanitarian assistance,” added the communications officer, who asked not to be named.
In response to the claims, the IDF’s Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) Unit said that the demolished structures were illegal and that “measures were taken in accordance with the law.” However, the office avoided directly addressing whether the specific EU-funded buildings were illegal.
In today’s Knesset session, however, Hotovely was more direct about the matter. Nevertheless, she refused to say whether Israel intends to impose sanctions on the EU.