Dutch PM slams Israel for dismantling West Bank solar project
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Dutch PM slams Israel for dismantling West Bank solar project

The Netherlands calls confiscating the $600,000 panels it bought for isolated Palestinian village 'unacceptable'

The remains of solar panels in the Palestinian village of Jubbet al-Dhib after they were dismantled by Israeli authorities on June 28, 2017. (Ta'ayush, courtesy)
The remains of solar panels in the Palestinian village of Jubbet al-Dhib after they were dismantled by Israeli authorities on June 28, 2017. (Ta'ayush, courtesy)

AMSTERDAM — Holland’s prime minister complained to his Israeli counterpart about Israel dismantling solar panels — paid for by the Dutch government — set up without permission in a Palestinian village in the West Bank.

Mark Rutte protested the move to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu last week, Dutch Foreign Minister Bert Koenders told the parliament on Tuesday, shortly after the solar panels were dismantled and confiscated in Jubbet al-Dhib. The panels cost approximately $600,000.

The Netherlands finds the move by Israel “unacceptable,” said Koenders, who was answering a query on the issue by a lawmaker from the left-wing D66 party, the Nederlandse Dagblad daily reported.

Israel began cracking down on illegal construction in Area C of the West Bank approximately two years ago, focusing on structures constructed there without authorization by the European Union, its member states or funding from Europe. In 2015, the European Commission published regulations requiring retailers to apply separate labels to products from what the European Union regards as illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank, eastern Jerusalem and the Golan Heights.

Area C is one of three categories of territory in the West Bank, and the only one where Israel is responsible for all security issues. The area comprises virtually all Israeli settlements and most of the West Bank’s territory, but only 10 percent of its Palestinian population.

Solar panels were installed at Jubbet al-Dhib because the village is not connected to the electricity grid, even though it is Israel’s duty to provide Palestinians in Area C with adequate infrastructure, Koenders told the parliament.

Prime Minister Mark Rutte of the free-market VVD party speaks to his supporters after exit poll results of the parliamentary elections were announced in The Hague, Netherlands, Wednesday, March 15, 2017. (Patrick Post/AP)
Prime Minister Mark Rutte of the free-market VVD party speaks to his supporters after exit poll results of the parliamentary elections were announced in The Hague, Netherlands, March 15, 2017. (Patrick Post/AP)

Built by a joint Palestinian-Israeli green energy NGO, the panels provided electricity for the village’s 160 residents, a local mosque and school.

Last month, the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) told the The Times of Israel the solar panels were erected “without the necessary permits, and that stop work orders had previously been sent to the village authorities.”

COGAT emphasized that Jubbet al-Dhib “has other electricity sources.”

However, the head of the village council, Rateb Abu Mahamid, at the time said that Jubbet al-Dhib is surrounded by Israeli settlements and is not connected to basic infrastructure as a result.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

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