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Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 16 December 2018

Demand compensation from Israel over West Bank demolitions, UK MPs urge foreign secretary

It follows a protest letter from eight European nations last week, demanding over €30,000 to compensate for Israel’s actions

A picture shows on October 17,2017 structures at an Israeli army base in the centre of the divided city of Hebron in the occupied West Bank where 31 settlers house are going to be built. AFP PHOTO / HAZEM BADER
A picture shows on October 17,2017 structures at an Israeli army base in the centre of the divided city of Hebron in the occupied West Bank where 31 settlers house are going to be built. AFP PHOTO / HAZEM BADER

A group of MPs have written to British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson asking whether the UK government would join eight other European countries in demanding compensation from Israel for demolished Palestinian structures in an area of the occupied West Bank.

The group, led by Richard Burden, chair of the Britain-Palestine All-Party Parliamentary Group, also called for efforts to be made to ensure that taxpayers’ money is “properly accounted for”.

The letter said: “Given that the UK has funded Palestinian structures in Area C of the West Bank that have been demolished or damaged by Israel – either as directly funded projects, projects funded by the EU, and projects funded by the UN – will the UK join eight other European countries in demanding compensation from Israeli authorities?”

It added: “We believe that the government must make all effort to ensure that British taxpayers’ money is properly accounted for.”

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Last week, a group of European nations wrote an official protest letter demanding over €30,000 (Dh130,000) to compensate for Israel’s actions.

Belgium is thought to be leading the protest, with France, Spain, Sweden, Luxembourg, Italy, Ireland and Denmark also involved in putting together the letter.

The eight countries provide humanitarian assistance to Area C in the West Bank and had installed solar panels, which were confiscated, and built mobile structures to serve as classrooms in Palestinian communities, which were destroyed by Israeli authorities.

Israel rejects the demand, as it argues that European activity in the area does not constitute humanitarian assistance, but rather, illegal development done without Israel’s consent. However, the European countries argue they are acting under the Geneva Convention by providing humanitarian aid to the area.

The MPs also urged Mr Johnson to do everything within his power to prevent the demolitions of these communities and many others in Area C of the West Bank.

“You will be aware of the huge parliamentary concern about the impending demolitions of the communities of Khan Al Ahmar and Susiya, where structures have been built with EU funding,” the letter said.

“We continue to urge you to do everything within your power to prevent the demolitions of these communities and many others in Area C of the West Bank.”

The letter was co-signed by Baroness Tessa Blackstone, Crispin Blunt, Tracy Brabin, Alan Brown, Alistair Carmichael, Sarah Champion, Joanna Cherry, Lord Alf Dubs, Julie Elliott, Chris Elmore, Lilian Greenwood, Louise Haigh, Graham Jones, Caroline Lucas, Holly Lynch, David Jones, Lord Frank Judd, Sandy MArtin, Matthew Pennycook, Lord Jeremy Purvis, Baroness Shas Sheehan, Paula Sheriff, Tommy Sheppard, Andy Slaughter, Kelly Tolhurst, Lord Norman Warner, Baroness Sayeeda Warsi and Lord Stewart Wood.