Over 20 EU diplomatic missions condemn Israeli demolitions in Jerusalem

Over 20 EU diplomatic missions condemn Israeli demolitions in Jerusalem
Over 20 diplomatic missions in Jerusalem and Ramallah jointly condemned ongoing Israeli demolitions of Palestinian homes in Jerusalem and the West Bank.
2 min read
28 February, 2024
The year 2023 witnessed a spike in Israeli demolitions of Palestinian houses in the West Bank and Jerusalem. (Photo by Nasser Ishtayeh/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

More than 20 European diplomatic missions in Jerusalem and Ramallah issued a joint statement on Tuesday against Israeli demolitions of Palestinian homes in Jerusalem and the West Bank, days after Israel promised to build 3,300 additional settler houses.

The statement reiterates a public statement by the EU on 15 February against Israeli demolitions and denounces "spikes" of demolitions in both Jerusalem and the West Bank in 2023 and early 2024.

In 2023, 229 Palestinian buildings - including several EU-supported schools - were demolished by Israel in Jerusalem and 944 in the West Bank according to a UN count. Thousands of Palestinians were displaced as a result.

These mass demolitions have been widely denounced by international observers, including the diplomatic missions behind the latest statement.

"Israel's settlement policy is illegal under international law," the statement read. "Unilateral actions taken in that context, such as forced transfers, evictions, demolitions and confiscations of homes will only escalate an already tense environment and lead to further violence and human suffering."

The 21 countries that had supported the statement by Tuesday night include Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Lithuania, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain and Sweden.

The statement comes days after Israel’s Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich announced plans to build 3,300 new houses in its settlements.

Belgium together with other Diplomatic missions in Jerusalem and Ramallah condemn continued Israeli demolitions. Our statement 👇 pic.twitter.com/CuEhssVge0

— Consulate General of Belgium in Jerusalem (@BelgiumJRS) February 27, 2024

This decision was presented as a response to a deadly attack in the Maale Adumim settlement in the West Bank, where three Palestinian gunmen opened fire, killing one Israeli and wounding five.

Several of Israel's Western allies immediately denounced the plans but did not announce concrete measures against the settlement policy.

"France strongly denounces the unacceptable remarks by Israeli Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich calling for the approval of plans to build 3,300 new housing units in several West Bank settlements," the French foreign ministry wrote in a statement on Tuesday. 

"France reiterates its condemnation of the settlement policy, which is illegal under international law, and once again calls on the Israeli authorities to refrain from any new project to create or expand settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territories."

The same day, EU Foreign Policy chief Josep Borrel also denounced surging "demolitions, settlement construction, restrictions on movement and access, as well as settler violence".

He promised to continue to work towards a "coordinated approach" between EU members to establish more comprehensive sanctions and travel bans against Israeli settlers.