Tal Aviv- Israel has strongly rejected the recommendation by the European Union committee that deals with Middle East affairs that the EU’s member states ask Israel to reimburse them for the demolition of buildings and infrastructure projects in Area C of the West Bank that they helped finance.
The committee convened two weeks ago but did not announce its decision— the coommittee is composed of experts in the Middle East affairs and its decisions are not binding but represent a foundation of later decisions that might be taken by the Political and Security Committee in the European Union (PSC) or the Foreign Affairs Council.
A European diplomat attributed the resolution to the lack of progress in negotiations between Israel and the EU over the situation in Area C. The negotiations involved, among other issues, the European demand to stop the demolition of Palestinian structures Israel claims were built illegally, including many built with European funding. A few rounds of talks held a few months ago ended without results.
According to European diplomats, the halt in the talks led some states that are more critical of Israel to launch a process of demanding compensation from Israel for European-funded projects that were demolished. The European diplomats said that Germany categorically objected to the move and managed to soften the resolution so that it only recommends requesting compensation, saying member states could do so if they chose.
Although this was a nonbinding resolution, Israel’s Foreign Ministry was furious. The head of the ministry’s diplomatic office, Alon Ushpiz, and other senior Foreign Ministry officials held talks with EU envoy to Israel Lars Faaborg-Andersen as well as the ambassadors of some leading members of the EU.
Faaborg-Andersen conveyed an extremely harsh message to Israel with regard to the demolition of Palestinian structures in Area C, warning that these demolitions could harm the relationship between the EU and Israel.