The EU is claiming diplomatic immunity to avoid prosecution in Israel over illegal building for Palestinians in Judea and Samaria with foreign taxpayer funds.
The European Union (EU) is claiming diplomatic immunity after using taxpayers’ money for unauthorized construction for Palestinians in Israeli-administered areas of Judea and Samaria, the UK’s MailOnline reported Tuesday.
Regavim, an Israeli NGO, “launched legal action after photographing EU flags flying above buildings on land placed under Israeli jurisdiction by the Oslo Accords, to which the EU is a signatory. EU bureaucrats are avoiding court by citing diplomatic rules,” MailOnline said. “Regavim has brought a number of law suits against the EU, accusing it of undermining international agreements. On each occasion, the EU avoided court by claiming diplomatic immunity.”
Leaked documents obtained by MailOnline “show that the EU is using diplomatic rules to place officials above the law, foiling attempts to hold bureaucrats accountable,” the report states, adding that British lawmakers are outraged. The EU received 350 million British pounds per week.
“It is deeply concerning that the EU falls back on diplomatic immunity after breaking planning regulations,” MP Jacob Rees-Mogg told MailOnline. “The UK Government would take a very dim view of a friendly state doing that to us.
“Diplomatic immunity is there to protect envoys from unjust treatment, not to protect the high-handed behavior of arrogant bureaucracies,” he stated. “The EU maintains that it is based on fundamental principles of rule of law and support for democracy. But when this clashes with its bureaucratic bungling, neither rule of law nor democracy seem important.”
In the mid-1990s, the Oslo Accords – ratified by the international community – divided the territories of Judea and Samaria into Areas A, B and C. Area C was placed under Israeli control, while Areas A and B were designated for the Palestinians.
Israeli efforts to stop illegal construction of Palestinian buildings by the EU in Area C have been met with protest – by the EU.
Following a Regavim expose, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu last month ordered the demolition of 400 Palestinian homes built illegally with direct funding from the EU to the tune of tens of millions of euros.
Israel will not allow foreign entities to meddle in its affairs and determine its future, Israel’s Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely stated.
The EU runs dozens of illegal projects in Area C, including the construction of over 1,000 buildings as well as infrastructure, such as roads, for the Palestinians. “Construction is also funded by international charities, including Oxfam,” MailOnline writes.
“The EU should comply with the law. It should not be meddling in the Middle East, then hiding behind some dodgy use of diplomatic immunity,” MP Andrew Percy MP told MailOnline. “This is a gross waste of taxpayers’ money. It’s another example of money given to the EU over which Parliament has no real oversight.
“The British electorate is contributing to this but we are completely unaware of how it’s being spent. We don’t know who is spending this, and we can’t vote them out. No wonder the EU think they’re above the law. They are untouchable,” Percy declared, adding that the EU is “undermining the Oslo Accords” and in fact “damaging attempts at peace” in the Middle East. “Not only is it a waste of taxpayers’ money, it is morally questionable,” he stated.
This month, the European Commission approved a €252.5 million ($470 M.) assistance package as the first part of the EU’s 2016 annual support in favor of the Palestinian Authority (PA).
“There’s no question, the EU is openly in violation of international law,” said Professor Eugene Kontorovich, an international lawyer from the Northwestern University School of Law in Chicago, according to MailOnline.
European lawmakers recently began to demand accountability by the PA for the funds it receives, out of the fear they are being misused or even used to fund terrorism. Most recently, British MP Joan Ryan penned a letter to Prime Minister David Cameron stating that British taxpayers’ money cannot be used to provide a “blank cheque” to the PA and that she demands accountability through an independent review of the funding.
“I do not believe that, for so long as it incites violence against Israel’s citizens, the PA is helping to further Britain’s policy of a two-state solution. Indeed, its actions are making such an outcome far less likely,” she wrote, noting that the PA had “named at least 25 schools as a well as dozens of sporting events and summer camps after terrorists.”
But an EU spokeswoman, MailOnline writes, “argued that the construction was legal, ‘in accordance with the humanitarian imperative,’ and said the EU believed that Area C would be ‘part of any viable future Palestinian state.’”
“She would not say whether or not the EU’s actions breached the Oslo Accords,” the article said.
Benjamin Netanyahu called the EU-funded structures “illegal,” charging that the EU was “building without authorization against the accepted rules, and there’s a clear attempt to create political realities there.”