UK pressure to save Susiya from Israeli plans of demolition and forced transfer must intensify

Posted by Caabu on 03 Nov 2017

UK pressure to save Susiya from Israeli plans of demolition and forced transfer must intensify

Caabu urges the Prime Minister Theresa May, Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson and the Foreign Office to intensify its pressure on Israel to save the Palestinian community of Susiya (and others like it) in Area C of the West Bank from demolition, displacement and forced transfer – which might well constitute a war crime under international law. Caabu welcomes any British Government effort to stop these demolitions but clearly more needs to be done.

Israeli newspaper Ha'aretz ran a story on 2 November 2017 revealing that the two week postponement in the Israeli Ministry of Defense’s high court response on Susiya is as a result of international pressure, primarily from the British Government. According to the story, Israeli Minister of Defense Avigdor Lieberman has already decided to demolish Susiya, but the state was asked to put off the announcement by a couple of weeks, due to PM Netanyahu's visit to London on the centenary of the Balfour Declaration. The admission from the Israeli Government that it wants to demolish Susiya is clear, but as is the fact that UK pressure is working and needs to be maintained and intensified.

This is an opportunity for the British government to raise with Netanyahu the issue, not only of Susiya’s destruction, but of the Israeli move to demolish entire communities in Area C. There needs to be significant pressure placed upon Theresa May to take action at this specific moment, even more crucially given Netanyahu’s visit to London.

Israel has openly stated it intends to demolish entire Palestinian villages in Area C. This will facilitate more settlement growth and destroy the possibility of a two state solution.

A two week postponement in a court procedure isn't enough – the international community should make clear to Israel that totally destroying Palestinian communities in Area C (like Susiya and Khan al-Ahmar) will have consequences. That forced transfer of entire Palestinian communities in Area C will and should have consequences, and that they might well constitute a war crime under international law.

Caabu Chair Rt Hon David Jones MP who visited Susiya in September 2015, said:

“This is the moment for the British Government to continue to show leadership over the issue of the West Bank.  Clearances of villages such as Susiya and the expansion of illegal settlements are highly damaging to the prospects of peace in Palestine and the achievement of a two-state solution.  Leading global players such as the United Kingdom have a responsibility to intervene with the Israeli authorities for restraint.”

Caabu board member Paula Sherriff MP who also visited Susiya in September 2015, said:

It is shocking to learn that Israeli bulldozers are on ready and primed to go and demolish the homes of some the most impoverished deprived Palestinians who have already suffered enough. This has nothing to do with security or terrorism but a naked land grab.

Caabu board member Rt Hon Alistair Carmichael MP who visited Susiya in August 2017, said:

“The threat to Susiya shows how the settlements are not just about buildings, but a very real human story of livelihoods under threat. I was privileged to meet Nasser Nawaja and his family in Susiya in September 2017. The fact that Nasser and so many other Palestinian families in Area C face this grim prospect should shame us all, and should motivate the UK Government to act with urgency and demand an immediate halt to such demolitions.”

Caabu’s Joseph Willits said:

“There is rightfully plenty of discussion about the historic implications of the Balfour declaration, and discussions of it have provided a considerable peg to raise serious concerns and spread awareness about certain issues. Given Netanyahu’s visit to the UK and with the prospect of Susiya’s demolition seeming ever more likely, it is important that the UK Government is put under intense and urgent pressure to demand a halt to such demolitions. The fate of communities such as Susiya should not just be put on hold during the marking of the Balfour centenary and the Israeli PM’s visit, but should be not be at risk of demolition, displacement and forced transfer at all. Caabu has taken many Parliamentary delegations to both Susiya and Khan al-Ahmar – we wish we did not have to hear their fears of forced transfer and displacement at all. The ever-increasing reality that both Susiya and Khan al Ahmar will shortly no longer exist is deeply disturbing. If the UK claims to consider Palestinian “sensitivities” over Balfour, or that it believes in a two-state solution, then it has to act now. For the UK to not intensify its pressure to stop such demolitions of Palestinian communities is as good as welcoming the bulldozers in and condemning the families affected to displacement and forced transfer.“

Ends....

Notes to editors:

1)          For more information or interviews contact Joseph Willits on (+44) 207 832 1325 or willitsj@caabu.org

2)          After Heavy Diplomatic Pressure, Israel Moves to Delay Demolition of Palestinian Village of Sussia – article in Haaretz 2 November 2017: https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/1.820733?utm_source=dlvr.it&utm_medium=twitter

3)          B’Tselem to Netanyahu and other top Israeli officials: Demolishing Palestinian communities – a war crime for which you would bear personal liability: http://www.btselem.org/press_releases/20170905_susiya_and_khan_al_ahmar_demolition_threat

4)          Information on Caabu’s parliamentary delegations: http://www.caabu.org/what-we-do/advocacy/delegations

5)          Demand compensation from Israel for demolished Palestinian structures in Area C, say UK Parliamentarians to the Foreign Secretary http://www.caabu.org/news/news/demand-compensation-israel-demolished-palestinian-structures-area-c-say-uk-parliamentarian