The European Parliament (EP’s) Delegation for relations with Palestine, expressed alarm at the deteriorating situation on the ground, calling for an immediate stop to Israeli expansion of settlements, and demolitions, said a press statement by EP delegation.’Israeli occupation policies are a direct threat to the two-state solution. The expansion of settlements, demolitions, forcible transfers and evictions must stop immediately,’ Delegation Chair Martina Anderson said.

‘Palestinians need hope, freedom and human rights. The way to these is by ending the occupation.’

Following the EU guidelines on the indication of origin of goods originating from the territories occupied since 1967 by Israel, the EP delegation, following a four-day official visit, assessed what further action the EU should take regarding settlements in order to comply fully with international law and EU legislation.

The EP delegation asserted, according to WAFA: ‘The EU must be a player, not only a payer,” stating that, “We are incensed by Israel’s increasing number of demolitions of humanitarian structures funded by EU taxpayers. People are losing their homes in the cold and the rain. Israeli policies violate international law and show disrespect for the EU, Israel’s biggest trade partner,’ Chair Anderson said.

International organizations gave witness to the substantial deliberate targeting of EU-funded humanitarian aid structures by Israeli authorities, recently stepped-up apparently in retaliation for the EU guidelines on indication of origin of products from Israeli settlements. These demolitions are hitting hard particularly the rural Bedouin community, said the statement.

Members of the European Parliament further expressed concern at Israel’s use of administrative detention without formal charges.

They cited the ‘particularly alarming’ case of Mohammad Al-Qeeq, a journalist on hunger strike for 79 days. To be noted, over 500 other Palestinians, including minors, are currently detained without charge or trial.

Regarding the Palestinian internal reconciliation, the EP delegation affirmed that, ‘Palestinian reconciliation is more urgent than ever.”

“Elections must be held as soon as possible. A united Palestinian leadership is essential for the two-state solution and for the future of Palestinian youth,’ Anderson said.

Anderson slammed the Israeli authorities refusal to allow envoy into Gaza as ‘unacceptable’. The European Parliament has not been allowed in since 2011.

The cross-party Delegation for Relations with Palestine was in the West Bank from Monday 8 to Friday 12 February. The group reportedly met with high-level Palestinian officials and civil society in East Jerusalem, Ramallah, Hebron, Susya, Abu Nwar, Jabal al Baba and the Jordan Valley, as well as with UN partners.

On February 6th, The European Union called on Israel ‘to halt the demolition of Palestinian housing, some of which was EU-funded, and reiterated its opposition to expanding Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank.’

‘In the past weeks there have been a number of developments in Area C of the West Bank, which risk undermining the viability of a future Palestinian state and driving the parties yet further apart,’ the EU diplomatic service said in a statement.

On 18 January Foreign Ministers in the Council conclusions confirmed the EU’s firm opposition to Israel’s settlement policy and actions taken in this context, including demolitions and confiscation, evictions, forced transfers or restrictions of movement and access.

Also of interest: 02/12/16 Obama to Sign Agreement Equating Settlements with Israel