EU launches multi-million dollar Palestinian infrastructure project to counter Israeli annexation plan
The agreement allocates 5.8 million euros ($6.6 million) for the construction of 16 different social and public infrastructure projects as part of the European Union Area C Development Programme for the occupied West Bank.
The West Bank's Area C lies under full Israeli administrative and military control, and where the majority of Israeli settlements and other military infrastructure have been built.
It is home to some 385,900 Israeli settlers and 300,000 Palestinians, and contains most of the territories that Israel plans to annex as part of a controversial land-grab plan which has sparked international condemnation.
According to the office of Sven Kühn von Burgsdorff, the EU Representative in the West Bank and Gaza, the development package will fund the completion of 16 infrastructure projects across 15 localities in Area C, estimated to benefit over 24,000 Palestinians.
The projects include schools, roads, water distribution networks, reservoirs, and electricity networks.
At the signing ceremony in Ramallah on Tuesday, von Burgsdorff emphasised that the EU considers Area C an "integral part" of the Palestinian territories. "This position has been voiced for so many years and is translated in projects like the one we are launching today," he said.
"It is the basic right of every Palestinian in the occupied Palestinian territories to have access to social services and economic infrastructure like water, electricity, roads, schools, and clinics," he added. "Together with the EU Member States we are supporting the Palestinian Authority to meet these needs."
Von Burgsdorff reiterated that the EU would not recognise "any changes to the pre-1967 borders, including with regard to Jerusalem, other than those agreed by both sides", referring to the Israeli government's plans to impose sovereignty over an estimated 30 percent of the occupied West Bank.
The Danish Representative in Ramallah, Nathalia Feinberg, also attended the ceremony, along with Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammed Shtayyeh.
Palestinians are severely restricted in what they can build in Area C, as the Israeli authorities limit the distribution of building permits. If even small structures are built without the correct permit, they face being demolished.
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