Pax Christi USA has signed onto a letter initiated by the Association of International Development Agencies in Jerusalem. The letter is a follow-up to a September 2014 letter in which a number of international aid and development agencies working in Palestine and Israel wrote to Secretary Kerry urging the U.S. to take immediate action to press Israel to cancel its plans to relocate as many as 7,000 Palestinian Bedouins from 46 communities in Area C of the Occupied West Bank.
The letter states, in part:
Regretfully, we are writing today to inform you that despite strong opposition from your government and the international community, Israel has recently made further advancements to its relocation plan.
These advancements include the leveling of land and start of infrastructure works at one section of the Al Jabal relocation site, the leveling of land and progress on different planning and zoning processes related to the Nuweimeh relocation site, and the ICA appointment of retired General Brigadier Dov Sedaka to liaise with the affected communities and oversee the Bedouin transfer process. Most recently, General Sedaka gave verbal notice to Palestinian residents of Abu Nwar, located within the E1 area, that they would not be allowed to remain in their community and that it would be in their best interest to immediately sign up for space at the Al Jabal relocation site.
The letter goes on to urge the U.S. that in order to halt and reverse the violations of international law that are creating a coercive environment in Area C, the U.S. needs to adapt a coordinated plan of action that includes:
- Issuing a public statement that calls on Israel to immediately freeze settlement activity and demolition orders and to cancel transfer plans.
- Continuing with private, high level communications to press Israel to stop policies and practices that undermine U.S. interventions in Area C.
- Recording and monitoring the impact of Israeli demolition orders on U.S. aid and development investments in Area C.
- Providing protective presence in communities at risk of demolition and forced transfer and conducting field visits to report on actual demolitions in communities that are highly vulnerable or where the U.S. has aid and development projects that are affected.
- Empowering Palestinians to assume local planning authority and supporting community planning initiatives in Area C.
The letter was sent to Secretary Kerry this week.