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Israel to suspend auction of EU-bought prefab classrooms for Palestinian children

Israel to suspend auction of EU-bought prefab classrooms for Palestinian children
Israeli authorities will reportedly postpone the controversial auction of prefabricated classrooms donated by the EU to Palestinian, amid an escalating diplomatic row over the jurisdiction of international versus Israeli law.

The Israel Defense Ministry postponed the auction of EU-donated classrooms and materials earmarked for Palestinian children for one month amid massive outcry in both online and diplomatic circles. A spokesperson for the Coordinator of Government Activities, which runs the Civil Administration, said the postponement was for “technical reasons” and not due to pressure from the EU.

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Israel's Civil Administration dismantled and seized two prefabricated buildings originally intended for use as classrooms for some 49 children in a small community in the northern West Bank last fall, citing lack of appropriate building and planning permission. The authorities claim they offered to return the classrooms to the EU on the guarantee that they would not be rebuilt in the West Bank without the requisite permissions, but the offer was rejected.

However, EU representatives deny such a proposal was ever made in the first place, and the two sides are continuing negotiations against a backdrop of deteriorating relations. An additional two tents and three metal sheds were also confiscated from a nearby community for the same reason.

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The Israeli Civil Administration conducts regular auctions of property seized from Palestinian communities, and sometimes unauthorized Jewish outposts.

The EU knows that such structures violate Israeli law but claims that international law supersedes it, while claiming “the direct financial injury to donors caused by these seizures amounts to €15,320 ($17,200).”

EU missions in Jerusalem and Ramallah have called for the items to be returned or equivalent compensation be paid as soon as possible.

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