Israeli occupation authorities have postponed the public auction of prefab classrooms donated by the European Union (EU) to Palestinians, reported Haaretz.
The classrooms, as well as other equipment, were confiscated on the grounds they had been erected ‘illegally’. Israel routinely denies Palestinians in ‘Area C’ of the West Bank permission to build.
According to Haaretz, the one-month postponement of the auction came after the EU “rejected a deal whereby the structures would be returned to the Europeans in return for their commitment not to restore them to the West Bank without proper building and planning authorization”.
Israeli officials reportedly hope “the postponement will allow time for Israel and the EU to negotiate a solution and head off further deterioration in diplomatic relations between the two sides”.
The structures in question were dismantled and confiscated by Israeli occupation forces and officials in October and November 2018, including two prefabricated buildings used as classrooms for 49 Palestinian schoolchildren in Ibziq near Nablus.
The paper noted that Israeli occupation officials “routinely auctions off items that have been seized after 90 days”, adding that EU sources are reportedly “concerned that the structures in question might be sold to settlers if auctioned”.
An Israeli defence ministry spokesperson “said the postponement was made for ‘technical’ reasons and was not related to pressure from the EU”.
The EU said that “the direct financial injury to donors caused by these seizures amounts to 15,320 euros”, while the EU missions in Jerusalem and Ramallah called on Israeli authorities to “return the confiscated items to their intended beneficiaries without precondition as soon as possible”.
The EU noted that its position on Area C is clear: “It is part of the occupied Palestinian territory and part of any viable future Palestinian state. All EU activity in the West Bank is fully in line with international humanitarian law”.