The EU is predicting an increase in Israeli demolitions of Palestinian dwellings and structures in the occupied West Bank, thus perpetuating the problem of displacement. Israeli Defense Minister Naftali Bennett has described the plan to apply Israeli sovereignty to Area C as “a real and immediate battle for the future of the Land of Israel.”
In 2019, Israel exceeded the statistics for demolitions and displacement in the previous year. Targeting EU-funded and Palestinian structures alike, the EU observer stated that Israel had demolished 35 per cent more dwellings and displaced 95 per cent more Palestinians, when compared with 2018.
Despite this, the EU refrains from taking a stance against Israeli colonization, even as it demands compensation from Israel for the damage to structures funded by the bloc. Last week, Israel demolished a Palestinian home and the foundations of a school in Al-Rifaiyya and Birin respectively.
Bennett’s simplistic justification for the colonization of Area C attempted to downplay the international consensus. “We are not at the United Nations,” he declared.
Israel’s contempt for international law is well known. However, the ways in which the UN and the EU aid the Zionist state in its trajectory are cast aside. On Monday, the UN Assistant Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs, Ursula Mueller, called for “continued commitment and consistent and sustained funding to help alleviate the challenges faced by Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem.”
Mueller’s visit to the occupied Palestinian territories and Tel Aviv illustrated the discrepancy which the UN persists in upholding. In the oPt, the UN official witnessed first-hand the deprivation which left Palestinian communities at risk of losing access to basic necessities, all as a direct result of Israel’s colonization of their land. In Tel Aviv, however, Mueller “commended Israel on its contribution to global emergency relief efforts.”
In the same way that the UN isolates Palestinians politically, Mueller isolated Palestine from what she means by “global”. The prevailing trend of contributing to Israel’s humanitarian propaganda while refusing to hold it accountable for the decline in Palestinian rights is hypocritical, to say the least.
Bennett’s plans for Area C will increase the humanitarian impact for Palestinians and the financial responsibility will once again fall upon international actors which define Palestine solely through the lens of humanitarian aid.
This generalization makes it easier to gloss over the human rights violations perpetrated by Israel through enforced military control, impediments to freedom of movement and additional forced displacement, the most recent being the demolition orders for 18 homes in Masafer Yatta.
It is clear that both the UN and the EU are unwilling to act upon their own statistics when it comes to protecting Palestinians and their land. Bennett’s announcement to create “nature reserves” — a frequent euphemism for land theft by the state — in Area C has also fallen on deaf ears, despite the implication of further appropriation of Palestinian territory. With the consequences of Bennett’s action in mind, which part of the two-state compromise is the international community pledging to protect at all costs, indeed to the exclusion of “plan B”?
UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres has repeatedly refused to consider alternatives, if these come from Palestinians, of course. Israel’s altering of Palestine and the international two-state paradigm, once again, is absent from UN concerns, no doubt deliberately so. To put it another way, there is no international opposition to “plan B”, as long as Israel is its architect.