European Union says demolition of West Bank villages hampers two-state solution
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European Union says demolition of West Bank villages hampers two-state solution

Hamlets of Abu Nuwar and Khan al-Ahmar are necessary for contiguity of land needed for a Palestinian state, EU warns

Israeli police secure a bulldozer demolishing structures at the Bedouin village of Abu Nuwar, east of Jerusalem in the West Bank on July 4, 2018. (AHMAD GHARABLI/AFP)
Israeli police secure a bulldozer demolishing structures at the Bedouin village of Abu Nuwar, east of Jerusalem in the West Bank on July 4, 2018. (AHMAD GHARABLI/AFP)

The European Union on Wednesday said Israel’s moves to demolish two West Bank villages threaten the possibility of a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict by disrupting the contiguity of land needed to establish a Palestinian state.

The statement came after earlier in the day Israeli forces demolished illegally built  structures in the Bedouin village of Abu Nuwar and prepared to demolish the hamlet of Khan al-Ahmar, both lying east of Jerusalem.

“These demolitions, together with plans for new settlement construction for Israelis in the same area, exacerbate threats to the viability of the two-state solution and further undermine prospects for a lasting peace,” the EU’s mission in Israel said in a statement.

The communities of Abu Nuwar and Khan Al-Ahmar are in the so-called E1 zone, which is “critical for the contiguity a future Palestinian state,” the EU said.

Israel has long-planned to settle E1, joining Jerusalem and Ma’ale Adumim, but faces widespread opposition from the international community and the Palestinians who fear the move would effectively bisect the West Bank.

“The EU expects the Israeli authorities to reverse these decisions and fully meet its obligations as an occupying power under International Humanitarian Law,” the statement read.

Israeli policemen and Palestinian demonstrators in the Bedouin village of al-Khan al-Ahmar on July 4, 2018. (Flash90)

In a separate statement, France condemned the demolition of Abu Nawar and expressed “deep concern” over the situation in Khan al-Amar.

“The villages are located in an area which is essential for the continuity of a future Palestinian state and thus the viability of the two-state solution, which has been undermined today by the Israeli authorities’ decisions,” a statement read.

Clashes broke out Wednesday between police and protesters at the illegally built village of Khan al-Ahmar. Eleven people were arrested, including an activist from the B’Tselem rights group. Three police officers were lightly injured in the confrontation, the force said, and some 35 protesters were hurt, according to the Palestinian Red Crescent.

On Thursday, diplomats from the UK, Germany, Spain, France, Italy, Sweden, Belguim, Norway, Finland, Denmark, Switzerland, and Ireland, visited the Khan al-Ahmar location to observe preparations for the demolition. The report said the UK, France, Germany, Italy, and Spain intend to file a joint diplomatic protest against the removal of the village.

After a years-long legal battle, the Supreme Court approved the demolition of Khan al-Ahmar in May. The state says the structures were built without the relevant building permits and pose a threat to residents because of their proximity to a highway.

The hamlet has been the subject of international controversy over the years for, among other things, its elementary school, which is made of tires, mud and falafel oil.

Critics say building permits are nearly impossible to obtain for Palestinians in Israeli-controlled areas of the West Bank and the demolition is meant to clear the way for new Jewish settlements.

Israel says it has offered the residents an alternative location, near a garbage dump belonging to the Palestinian town of Abu Dis. Bedouin villagers say the location is unsuitable for their way of life, and have asserted that residents of Abu Dis have warned them not to come there.

According to the UN, Khan al-Ahmar has 180 residents. The state is in legal battles to obtain demolition orders for more buildings in Abu Nawar, which is home to some 600 people.

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