EU official defends unlicensed building for West Bank Palestinians


(JTA) — A spokesman for the European Union defended its funding for unlicensed construction in the West Bank of hundreds of buildings for Palestinians.

Shadi Othman, a communications officer at the Office of the European Union Representative in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, spoke to the Daily Mail Thursday about the union’s funding the construction of 400 homes for Palestinians in the West Bank’s Area C, which under the Oslo Accords remains under Israeli control until a negotiated final agreement.

“This is part of the work done to build the future Palestinian state which will live side by side with Israel,” Othman said. “Palestinians have a right to live there, build schools there, have economic development.”

The daily newspaper interviewed Othman about footage collected by the Israeli not-for-profit Regavim, which shows structures bearing plaques with the EU logo. Regavim says the structures were erected in recent months without license from Israeli authorities.

According to the Daily Mail, the construction in 17 locations, including in the Jerusalem environs, cost tens of millions in EU public funds.

The European Union has long complained to Israel about the thousands of homes built for Jewish settlers in Area C, rejecting Israeli claims that they are built in settlements likely to become part of Israel in a final deal.

Michael Theurer, a German member of the European Parliament and its Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs, told the Daily Mail that he was “taking these allegations seriously and will thoroughly investigate them.”

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