Representatives from the United Kingdom, European Union, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Finland, Belgium, Sweden, Canada and Norway visited the Palestinian community of Burqa and the site of the recently displaced community of Ras at-Tin amid accelerating rates of settler violence and following the demolition by Israeli authorities of donor-funded humanitarian structures, including a school in the nearby community of Ein Samiya. Ireland and Denmark also support this statement.
In Burqa, diplomats learned how the community have endured harassment and intimidation from settlers. They also observed the aftermath of Ras at-Tin’s displacement due to settler attacks and how these attacks intensified after the establishment of an illegal outpost near the community.
The delegation was extremely alarmed by the growth of settler violence, which alongside demolitions has displaced over 400 Palestinians this year and resulted in several casualties across the West Bank, most recently the death of 19 year-old Qusai Maatan, who was killed in Burqa earlier this month.
The diplomats strongly condemned settler violence. While they noted some steps taken by the Israeli authorities, including arrests, they urged Israel, as the occupying power, to do more to hold to account and prevent those who have made the lives of Palestinians – such as in the communities of Al Qaboun and Al Mughayyir – intolerable. They underlined the prohibition of forcible transfers in International Humanitarian Law, in particular article 49 of Geneva Convention IV. They reaffirmed their opposition to settlements, which are illegal under international law, result in increased settler violence, and undermine the two-state solution and prospects for a lasting peace.
Additionally, diplomats strongly condemned the recent demolition of Ein Samiya school, which was funded by donors as humanitarian relief, emphasizing Israel’s breach of international humanitarian law. They called on Israel, as the occupying power, to halt all confiscations and demolitions and to give unimpeded access to humanitarian organisations in the occupied West Bank. They reaffirmed their commitment to Palestinian rights and assisting vulnerable populations in Area C. Through official channels, the consortium of donors have called on Israel to return or compensate for all humanitarian items which they have funded.
The abovementioned representatives condemned the killing of Palestinians and Israelis alike, while stressing the record high number of individuals killed this year in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem.