Israel has refused to pay Belgium compensation for the demolition of four Palestinian homes, local outlets reported yesterday.
Belgium demanded reparations last week after claiming the houses were built as part of a humanitarian aid project, with funding from Brussels.
The Belgian Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement: “This essential infrastructure was built with Belgian funding, as part of humanitarian aid implemented by the West Bank Protection Consortium.”
“Our country asks Israel for compensation or restitution for these destructions.”
However, Tazpit Press Service (TPS) yesterday reported the Israeli Foreign Affairs Ministry would refuse to pay compensation, the New Arab reported.
The outlet later quoted foreign ministry officials as saying: “It is regrettable that European aid money finds its way to the financing of illegal activities.”
Israel frequently claims the demolition of Palestinian homes in the occupied West Bank is legal, using the lack of planning permits as justification.
However, the Israeli authorities maintain near complete control over matters such as planning and construction in Area C of the occupied West Bank, making it impossible for Palestinians to obtain permits.
According to the United Nations, fewer than two per cent of Palestinian permit applications were approved by Israeli between 2010 and 2014.
European countries, TPS cited the Israeli foreign ministry as saying, should refrain from funding construction in Area C of the occupied West Bank, if the relevant permits are not secured.
Israel’s foreign ministry said: “Donor states should utilize their tax payer’s money towards the funding of legal constructions and projects in territories that are controlled by Israel, and make sure those are planned and executed in accordance with the law and in coordination with the relevant Israeli authorities.”
Belgium last week said it was appalled by the “alarming increase in the number of demolitions” carried out by Israeli forces in the occupied West Bank.
Brussels cited the 3 November demolition of more than 80 structures in the village of Khirbet Hamsa Al-Foqa in the Jordan Valley as an example of Israel flagrantly violating international humanitarian law, which prohibits the demolition of aid.
The Belgian foreign ministry statement said: “We reiterate that the demolition of infrastructure and housing in the occupied West Bank is contrary to international humanitarian law, in particular the Fourth Geneva Convention, Israel’s obligations as an occupying power and UN Security Council resolutions.”
“Belgium calls on the Israeli authorities to stop the demolition of humanitarian aid in line with international humanitarian law.”