Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, Nickolay Mladenov (File photo)
Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, Nickolay Mladenov, expressed concern over Israeli demolitions of over 70 structures, including homes, in the Bedouin village of Humsa Al Bqai’a, in the Jordan Valley, stating that "Such actions are contrary to international law and could undermine the chances for the establishment of a viable, contiguous Palestinian state."
“In a concerning development, on 3 November Israeli authorities carried out the most extensive demolition in the occupied West Bank in the past decade, destroying over 70 structures, including homes, in the Bedouin village of Humsa Al Bqai’a, in Area C”, stated Mladenov. “Seventy-three people were displaced, including 41 children. Their vulnerability is compounded by the onset of winter and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Home demolitions in East Jerusalem also resumed during the reporting period after a pause of several weeks.”
The UN coordinator said that in total, 153 Palestinian-owned structures in Area C and East Jerusalem were demolished or seized, displacing 96 Palestinians, including 22 women and 51 children, and affecting some 1,400 others. The demolitions and seizures were executed due to the lack of Israeli-issued building permits, which are nearly impossible for Palestinians to obtain. In addition, three structures were demolished by their owners to avoid the payment of additional fines.
Referring to another incident, Mladenov said that on 28 October, Israeli authorities cut a donor-funded pipe supplying water to 14 herding communities in the Masafer Yatta area of Hebron, home to about 1,400 people. Amid the pandemic, depriving these communities of water could have particularly grave health consequences.
On 2 November, the Israeli Government informed the High Court of Justice that during the next four months it would not demolish the Bedouin village of Khan al-Ahmar. In its explanation, the Government cited COVID-19 restrictions and “additional considerations” as reasons for the delay and said that it would use the additional time to exhaust efforts to reach an agreement with residents.
“I reiterate my call on Israeli authorities to cease demolitions, seizures of Palestinian property and efforts to relocate communities in the occupied West Bank. Such actions are contrary to international law and could undermine the chances for the establishment of a viable, contiguous Palestinian state”, added the UN envoy.
In another concerning development, on 15 November, Israeli authorities opened the bidding process for construction of 1,200 housing units in the Givat Hamatos settlement. According to Mladenov, if built, this project would further consolidate a ring of settlements between Jerusalem and Bethlehem in the occupied West Bank. It would also significantly damage prospects for a future contiguous Palestinian State, and for achieving a negotiated two-State solution based on the 1967 lines, with Jerusalem as the capital of both states.