EU urges Israel to nix ‘forced transfer’ of Palestinians

After US condemns plans to demolish homes in southern West Bank village of Susya, 28-nation bloc also voices strong opposition

A tent in the village of Susya, July 19, 2015 (Elhanan Miller/Times of Israel)
A tent in the village of Susya, July 19, 2015 (Elhanan Miller/Times of Israel)

The European Union on Monday urged Israel not to demolish part of the West Bank Palestinian village of Susya, south of Hebron, as opposition grew to the plan to clear the area.

Israel’s Supreme Court ruled last month that the Civil Administration, Israel’s military governing authority in the West Bank, had the right to demolish Palestinian homes in Susya because they had been built without permission.

But in statement released Monday, the EU joined the State Department and other bodies in condemning Israel’s plan, accusing Jerusalem of planning the “forced transfer” of Palestinians.

The EU “calls on Israeli authorities to halt plans for forced transfer of population and demolition of Palestinian housing and infrastructure in the Susya and Abu Nwar communities,” a statement from the 28-nation bloc said.

The communique, which also urged the resumption of peace talks with the Palestinians, was issued after a meeting of foreign ministers from the bloc.

In June, diplomats from all European member states traveled to Susya to protest Israel’s decision.

Last week, the US warned Israel not to dismantle the village’s structures.

“We strongly urge the Israeli authorities to refrain from carrying out any demolitions in the village,” State Department spokesperson John Kirby said in a press briefing.

The town’s residents argue that they had no choice but to build illegally, because the Civil Administration rarely grants permits to Palestinians in the West Bank’s Area C — a zone officially controlled by the Israel Defense Forces as per the 1993 Oslo peace accords.

Earlier Monday, a group of 200 artists presented a petition calling on Israel not to demolish the homes.

“The Civil Administration and the army notified the residents of Khirbet Susya of their intentions later this week to destroy half of the village, and in effect expel them from their land,” the petition read. “The destruction and uprooting are cruel, immoral, and illegal.”

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