By Abe Hayeem, APJP – 17 May 2013
From: Abe Hayeem Chair, Architects & Planners for Justice in Palestine.
To: Head of the Civil Administration,
Brigadier General Moti Almoz, Beit El
Dear Brigadier General Almoz
Re: A Fair and Just Consideration of Susya’s Master Plan
This is an appeal for you to follow the recommendations of the International Court of Justice regarding the building of the Separation Wall and all of the Israel settlements in the occupied West Bank. They are totally illegal under international law, the 4th Geneva Convention, and the UN Charter of Human Rights which gives indigenous people, in this case the Bedouin of Susya and surrounding areas of the Hebron Hills and the Jordan Valley, the right to practice their traditional way of life, and the right to a home on their own land. The ICJ has demanded that the wall and settlements be dismantled, and that the ‘high contracting parties’ must take action to ensure that the ruling of 2004 is implemented.
Although Israel has achieved a more or less de facto annexation of the whole of Area C, which constitutes 62% of the West Bank, this is an indisputably illegal annexation, which is in serious breach of the Geneva Conventions. Thus any building of illegal settlements for Israelis, as serious breaches, are classified as war crimes. The Civil Administration, which should have ended five years after Oslo in 1998, has entrenched the occupation and displaced Palestinians from their own land which was illegally occupied since 1967, and continually demolished their homes, depriving them of any human rights. As head of the Civil Administration, any future consideration of these war crimes in an international court of justice, may hold you in part responsible.
On Sunday 19 May 2013, the Planning Committee of the Civil Administration will meet to consider the master plan submitted on behalf of the Palestinian village of Susya.
As you know, and now the world knows, the residents of Susya have endured many years of suffering and instability since they were expelled from their village in 1986. In 2001 the army not only demolished their homes and tents, but also demolished the caves they had moved into and filled in their cisterns, depriving them of water and electricity. Despite the fact that Israel’s High Court returned them to their lands, they could not legally build shelter for themselves in place of the demolished caves, because they had no approved master building and zoning plan.
It is well known and recorded that the Civil Administration rarely approves building plans for Palestinians, and that many will oppose you. But, you are the right person at the right time to ensure some measure of historic justice, to avoid a humanitarian disaster, and prevent an additional expulsion of the men, women and children of Susya, who have already suffered so greatly.
As declared by Rabbis for Human Rights who have fought for Jewish values to be applied, in the week that Israelis and Jews around the world celebrate the festival of Shavuot, and the giving of the Torah, in the Ten Commandments, we are told not to steal, and not to covet our neighbours’ homes and land. We all know that the denial of a building plan for Susya will be a step towards allowing those who have long coveted this land, that it is not theirs to steal. The government also knows that this is for the most part privately-owned land.
As the person is responsible for civil law in the occupied territories you have the ability to alter the terrible injustices in view of the world, and act in favor of a fair and just process.
As an organisation of international architects and planners concerned about the ethical practice of our profession, and for human rights in these fields, we urge you to support the master plan submitted by the Palestinian village of Susya, to end the land stealing and demolitions, to arrest the terrorist Jewish settlers who have no right to grab more and more land, to dismantle their illegal settlements, and set the path of Israel to one of justice and peace. That will bring Israel the best security it needs, and not the reputation of a pariah state.
Abe Hayeem Chair, Architects & Planners for Justice in Palestine.