Contact the State Department’s press office and urge a stronger response on Hebron and Amona

Hebron-and_Amona404x604The Israeli government is in the process of establishing – by stealth –the first new settlement complex (28 units, providing housing for some 100 settlers, or a 10% increase in the settler population in the area) in Hebron in more than a decade. It is doing so by taking properties seized years ago by the Israeli government for military use and handing them over to the settlers. This action directly contravenes Israeli law, which prohibits seizing lands for military needs and then using them for the purpose of settlements. It also contradicts the principle of distinction between civilians and combatants and constitutes a clear violation of International Humanitarian Law. In addition, allocating these properties to the settlers based on the argument that they belonged to Jews before 1948 in essence constitutes implementation of a “right of return” for Jews, at the expense of protected Palestinians tenants – even as Palestinians are denied any parallel “right of return” to properties they left or were expelled from before 1948.

On August 24th, State Department Deputy Spokesman Mark Toner said that if reports about what is happening in Hebron are true, “…it would represent a deeply concerning step of settlement expansions…

At the same time, the Israeli government is moving ahead with plans to “relocate” the illegal outpost of Amona. It plans to move the settlers off the privately-owned Palestinian land where the outpost it currently located – land that after years of trying, the Government was forced to admit it could find no “legal” way to expropriate and give to the settlers – and on to a nearby plot of privately-owned Palestinian land that it has now found a pretext to seize. In short, this case involves Israel taking new land from the Palestinians for the sole benefit of settlers. And it involves Israel acting not to punish and deter settler law-breaking, but instead rewarding and incentivizing such illegal actions. And it contributes to the growth of the settlement foothold deep in the West Bank, via the direct support and collusion of the Israeli government.

On August 11th, the Director of the State Department’s Press Office, Elizabeth Trudeau, said that the State Department was “deeply concerned by reports that the Israeli Government has begun the process to take over privately owned Palestinian land to relocate the illegal Israeli outpost of Amona.”

 

Take Action Today!

 

Contact the State Department’s press office and urge a much stronger public response to what is happening today in Hebron and Amona than just “deep concern.” These Israeli actions are outrages and should be met with a clear and public demand that Israel cease and desist.

Click here to write to them (via the State Department’s web form). A sample message – that you can copy/paste/customize – is below.

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Sample Message:

Subject Line: For the Press Office/Spokesman: Developments in Hebron & Amona are more than “deeply concerning”

 

Message: I am writing to urge those speaking in the name of the State Department to take a much stronger public stance regarding what is happening today in the West Bank with respect to the illegal outpost of Amona and new settlement developments in Hebron.

During the August 11th press conference, Director of the State Department’s Press Office, Elizabeth Trudeau, said that the State Department was “deeply concerned by reports that the Israeli Government has begun the process to take over privately owned Palestinian land to relocate the illegal Israeli outpost of Amona.”

During the August 24th press conference, State Department Deputy Spokesman Mark Toner said that if reports about what is happening in Hebron are true, “…it would represent a deeply concerning step of settlement expansions…

I agree that these plans are “deeply concerning” – but I urge you to learn more about what is going on. When you do, I think you will realize that this public reaction to the plans from the State Department does not go nearly far enough.

What the Israeli government is planning to do in Hebron is, in fact, an outrage that must be directly challenged. Israel’s plan directly contravenes Israel’s own law, which prohibits seizing lands for military needs and then using them for the purpose of settlements. It contradicts the principle of distinction between civilians and combatants, and constitutes a clear violation of International Humanitarian Law. And, by suggesting that handing these properties to settlers is ok because they may have belonged to Jews before 1948, this effort in essence constitutes implementation of a “right of return” for Jews, at the expense of the protected Palestinians tenants, and even as Palestinians are denied any parallel “right of return” to properties they left or were expelled from before 1948.

What is happening with respect to Amona is equally outrageous and must not be permitted to stand. It involves Israel seizing new land from the Palestinians, unabashedly for the sole benefit of settlers. It involves Israel acting not to punish and deter settler law-breaking, but instead rewarding and incentivizing illegal settler actions. And it involves the expansion of the settlement presence deep in the West Bank heartland, through the direct support and collusion of the Israeli government.

The U.S. is increasing its military support for Israel, recognizing the rising threats Israel faces in the region. At the same time, the U.S. has to increase pressure on Israel – including with much tougher statements from you and your colleagues – to stop these Hebron and Amona plan and other settlement projects, recognizing the rising threat they pose to peace and the two-state solution.

 

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