Washington, DC – Following a court decision that could destroy the homes and lives of thousands of Palestinians in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, Americans for Peace Now (APN) is calling on the Biden administration to tell the government of Israel not to evict eight Palestinian villages near the city of Hebron. APN joins its Israeli sister-organization, Peace Now, in calling on the Israeli government to cease and desist eviction plans.
The ruling by Israel’s Supreme Court pertains to the right of an occupying power to transfer residents of the occupied territory at will. The Court’s interpretation of International Law on this question is that the prohibition on evicting occupied residents is not binding but rather “customary,” and therefore does not compel Israel’s military – the temporary sovereign in the occupied West Bank – from uprooting and evicting Palestinian residents.
APN’s President and CEO Hadar Susskind said: “The Court’s odd interpretation of International Law notwithstanding, the question here is not one of splitting legal hairs but rather of political wisdom, national responsibility, national interest, morality and – yes - justice. And the responsibility for safeguarding these important considerations falls squarely on the shoulders of the Israeli government. Forcing out thousands of Palestinians from lands that they and their forefathers have been inhabiting for hundreds of years is not only a blatant injustice and a violation of International Law. It is also a self-defeating move that would damage the national interest of Israel and the cause of Israeli-Palestinian peace. Israel’s government must resist the temptation to act upon this legal technicality to uproot eight communities from their ancestral land. This message must be driven unequivocally to the government of Israel by the Biden administration.”
The case involves rural communities in an area known as Massafer Yatta at the South Hebron Hills, to the south of the West Bank’s largest city, Hebron. The residents of these communities, some of whom live in local caves and huts, have been fighting in the courts Israeli efforts to displace them and take over their lands for the past twenty years. The Israeli military insists on using these lands for military exercises. Yesterday, Israel’s Memorial Day, the Palestinian residents’ hopes to find justice in the Israeli court system were dashed.
APN and Israel’s peace movement stand by the Palestinian residents of the South Hebron Hills and call on Israel’s government and the Biden administration to protect their rights and let them live in peace on their land.