Thursday, 8 March 2012

Israel to demolish EU-funded renewable

8Six EU-funded wind and solar energy projects that provide electricity for six hundred West Bank Palestinians have been put on a “demolition list” by Israel, allegedly in response to a report by an EU mission that called for laws to prevent the financing of illegal settlements.

West Bank project managers say the “stop work” orders served against the projects are “a first step to almost automatic demolition.”

Elad Orian, a joint founder of Comet-ME, which oversaw the renewables project, said that four hundred people would be left completely without electricity if the demolition went ahead.

“The people will be left without light or the ability to charge cellphones [mobile phones], which is the only means of communication there.”

The project, supported by Comet-ME and the German group Medico International, built a total of fifteen solar plants and hybrid systems for electrifying villages with a combined population of some 1,500 people.

Area C is a canton under full Israeli control, comprising some 60 per cent of the West Bank and—beyond the West Bank Wall—all of Israel’s settlements, which are considered illegal under international law. Palestinians need permits to build in this region, but a study by the Israeli group Peace Now found that, between 2000 and 2007, 94 per cent of their applications were turned down.

The region, spanning the Dead Sea, Judaean Desert and Jordan Valley, is underdeveloped and the German Foreign Office provided approximately €300,000 for the six hybrid wind and solar energy projects, which serve poor villages in the South Hebron Hills.

Real pay per employee (2000 = 100)
Source: Ameco database.

Some EU diplomats, and many nongovernmental groups, see a link in the timing with a confidential report by the EU’s regional diplomats into the building of settlements and the demolition of houses in Area C. It called on the Commission to draft legislation “to prevent/discourage financial transactions in support of settlement activity.”

Less than two weeks after the report was leaked, notices were served on clean-energy projects in Haribat al-Nabi, Shaab al-Butum, Qawawis, and Wadi al-Shesh.

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