At the end of July the AJDS together with APAN presented a panel of speakers at the triennial ALP National conference to discuss the realities of the failed peace process and how we can move forward. We presented our position that recognition of Palestinian statehood and addressing settlement expansion in the occupied territories is a necessary and urgent step that benefits the self determination of Palestinian and Israeli peoples. You can read our full paper here as well as our letter to ALP MP’s.
The ALP motion voted on at the conference signals a shift in attitudes on Israel and Palestine towards acknowledging Palestinian statehood and opposing Israeli settlements which are illegal under International law. However whilst these changes are slowly occurring in our foreign policy, Israel is acting quickly on settlement expansion, house demolitions and forced removals of Palestinians. In recent days we have seen a groundswell of demolitions on the ground in area C of the West Bank to make way for settlement development.
In 1995 The Oslo II Accord was signed which divided the West Bank into areas designated by varying status of Palestinian autonomy and Israeli control pending final status of Palestinian self- governance. The occupied territory was split into Areas A, B and C; with Area C covering some 60% of the West bank and denoting Israeli military and planning control. Israel to this day retains strict control over these areas and the lives of Palestinians living within them.
A month ago we wrote to you about the decision of the Israeli high court to demolish the Palestinian village of Susiya and urged you to take action and write letters to the Australian Israeli representative office. There has been a lot of International support for the village of Susiya which has resulted in a freeze on demolition orders pending further negotiations and legal processes.
However there has been a surge in demolitions throughout the West Bank. Just this week the Israeli army demolished at least 63 homes and basic structures across 10 Palestinian communities in Area C.
On May 5 2015 the Israeli High Court ruled that officials could carry out demolition orders on the entire village, forcibly transferring over 250 people from the place in which they have lived since before the occupation of the West Bank began in 1967. Watch the struggle to save Susiya.
This 7:30 report examines the links between Australia and Susiya, which receives Australian Aid money.
International pressure has succeeded in halting these demolitions. There is currently a military freeze until further negotiations. Greens foreign affairs spokesperson Senator Scott Ludlam has said: “The proposed destruction of this village is unjustifiable. It has sparked international attention and outrage, and it is time the Australian Government broke its silence,” The ALP has also urged Foreign Minister Julie Bishop to take a stance against demolishing Susiya.
Thank you to everyone who took the time to write letters and lobby. We can see that the pressure is succeeding in halting the demolitions and we can continue to have an impact so we urge you to continue writing letters, sign our petitionand supporting in whatever ways you can.
E1 development underway.
The E1 area is an area encompassing 4.6 square miles extending from Jerusalem to the settlement of Maale Adumim, currently with 40,000 residents, located in area C. Maale Adumim was established by a government initiative in 1977 with first residents settling in1982. Development plans for the E1 area were instigated by Yitzchak Rabin in 1994, but have been hindered since then due to Palestinian resistance and international pressure. The area includes the Palestinian towns of Azariya, Abu Dis, Issawiya, Anata and A-Zaim, and the lands of the Jahalin Bedouin tribe.
The E1 development plan includes the forcible transfer of as many as 7,000 Palestinians from 46 communities in the West Bank. This would effectively cut the West Bank in two, furthering the bantustanization of the West Bank and Palestinian territories and drastically diminishing the viability of a Palestinian state. The UN Secretary-General has said that if this plan goes ahead it will be in violation of international law and represent a grave breach of the Fourth Geneva Convention.
Since the beginning of the year Israel has demolished over 300 Palestinian structures. 22 structures have already been demolished in the four Bedouin communities of a-Sa’idi, Wadi Shneisel, Bir al-Maksub and Abu-Falah, in the Khan al-Ahmar in the E1 area, as well as demolitions occurring in the Jordan valley.
According to a UN statement the demolitions in the E1 area belonging to the Jahalin Bedouin community are the largest number of Palestinians displaced in the West Bank in one day in nearly three years, resulting in nearly 50 children losing their homes. The UN statement, released on 18th August calls for an immediate halt to demolitions in the West Bank: This UN report reveals that Israel plans to demolish up to 17,000 structures, most of them on privately owned Palestinian land in Area C.
Palestinian houses and structures in Area C are routinely hit with demolition orders on the grounds that they lack Israeli building permits, despite how rarely these permits are given by Israel. This article here discusses the injustice of Palestinian house demolitions in Susiya.
Please take a moment to sign our petition and spread through your networks!
The lead up to Yom Kippur, the Jewish Day of Atonement, is a most opportune time to be mindful of our responsibilities as global citizens and as Jews. In speaking out at these injustices we place genuine value on the concepts of forgiveness and repentance.