ICAHD JOINS APPEAL TO ISRAELI SUPREME COURT AGAINST
MILITARY PLANNING IN AREA C OF THE WEST BANK
The Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD), in conjunction with Rabbis for Human Rights/Shomrei Mishpat, The Jerusalem Legal Aid and Human Rights Center, and The Society of Saint Yves, The Catholic Center for Human Rights, and together with the Palestinian village council of Ad-Dirat- Al-Rfai’ya located in the southern district of Hebron, West Bank, has submitted a petition to the Israeli Supreme Court to remove the planning authority in Area C of the West Bank, including the authority to demolish Palestinian homes, out of the hands of the Israeli military and restore it to the Palestinian Authority. The Court will hear the case of Monday, April 28, 2014.
Background: Palestinian planning commissions survived the 1967 war, but without warning or “immediate military necessity,” the Israeli Military Commander in 1971 issued Order 418, which abolished them and placed all planning in the hands of the military, where it remains today. During the Oslo peace process Israel agreed to restore that authority in Area C to the Palestinian Authority, but this was never done.
Our case argues that Order 418 created a separate but discriminatory planning regime that, by removing any representation of the Palestinian population, renders criminal almost all new building by Palestinians, who have no choice but to build without permits and thereby risk demolition. This stands in clear violation of Article 64 of Fourth Geneva Convention, which prohibits an Occupying Power from extending its legal system into an occupied territory. Moreover, the Respondents – the Israeli Minister of Defense, the IDF commander of the West Bank, the head of the Civil Administration and its High Planning Council – illegally took the planning authority and rights granted to the Protected Population by the Fourth Geneva Convention, transferring them to the military. What’s more, they formally brought Israeli settlers into the planning process and structure. Sixteen local committees exist in Area C for local settlement councils, but not one Palestinian village council in Area C has a local planning committee.
Our appeal raises for the first time before the High Court the issue of forced transfer of Palestinians within the Occupied Territories as a result of the planning failure and practice of house demolition – some 30,000 homes and livelihood structures demolished since 1967. The effects of demolitions or threats of demolitions are devastating, and the political agenda of “Judaizing” is blatant: Less than 1% of Area C is designated for Palestinian development, compared to the 70% of Area C for the settlements. Overall our appeal raises the fundamental question: Why does the Civil [Military] Administration interfere in the first place in the planning and construction issues of Palestinians in the Occupied Territories?
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