The European Union is searching for new ways to express its opposition to Israeli policy in Area C of the West Bank, regions under Israeli security and civil control.
The EU's fundamental stance, opposing the non-development of the area for Palestinians, was underscored in conclusions forged by the EU's foreign affairs council during a meeting on May 14. Since that meeting, EU officials have discussed ways of translating this position into policy action.
A top EU diplomat said on Wednesday that the EU expects that Israel will not carry out demolition orders against Palestinians in Area C. That official was one of 15 senior EU diplomats on a tour of the southern side of Mount Hebron.
Coincidentally, the tour began with a visit to the village Jinba, just one day after the Israel Defense Forces planted dozens of masked soldiers there to count the number of residents.
Jinba is one of eight Palestinian villages slated by Israel for evacuation and destruction, to make room for IDF training exercises.
As the tour got started, a convoy of armored vehicles traversed the steep, rocky road that winds down to Jinba. A work stoppage order was issued for the road after residents started to remove rocks. The diplomats sat in a school classroom in Jinba; the civil administration has issued demolition orders against the school.
Inside the classroom, British Consul-General, Sir Vincent Fean, stressed that the EU adheres to the principle that enforced expulsio n of a population is wrong. He promised that the EU will closely monitor appeals lodged by Jinba residents against evacuation and demolition orders.
The EU diplomats met with Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad in the Mufaqara village. Fean presented himself in Arabic as Britain's representative in the "occupied Palestinian territories." He said that he and his colleagues came to witness directly life "in a region threatened by destruction," and to express solidarity.
Gathered later in Susya, in one of the many tents and shacks shadowed by demolition orders, the diplomats listened to Nasser Nawaja'a. "There are in this village octogenarians who are older than the State of Israel," he said. "How can they be told that their residence here is illegal?" One of the diplomats stated that "the EU has made clear that we expect that the demolition orders in Area C will not be carried out."