Let’s start with some background. Here’s a report from ABC News:
And now, some analysis. From friend of mine Moriel Rothman in Open Zion, writing that while the villagers don’t have a permit — making their buildings illegal — the inability of Palestinians to get permits is to obvious that it makes the point moot, at the very least:
While it is likely true that Susya residents did not seek permits from the Israeli Civil Administration, that fact needs to be put in context. It is virtually impossible for an Arab living in Area C (over 60% of the West Bank under complete Israeli civil and military control since the Oslo Accords) to receive a permit to build. According to Israeli planning rights group Bimkom, from 2000-2008, an average of 95% of Palestinian requests for building permits in Area C were rejected. 95%.
Just because a something is legal, it doesn’t make it ethical. And opposing it is a valid, and necessary thing to do. (You can hardly blame the Supreme Court here — they have upheld a law like it is. It’s not there fault, it’s the occupation’s.)
Rabbis for Human Rights has some more information about the village’s history, too:
The village of Palestinian Susya has existed for centuries, long before the establishment of the settlement of Susya in 1983. There are documentary evidence of a settlement in the area dating back to 1830, and it is also marked on British mandatory maps from 1917. In 1948, the original population was augmented by Palestinian refugees who were expelled from the area of Ramat Arad and acquired land in the area…
The facts seem simple to me. Palestinians have been living there for around a century; in 1948 even more joined the village having left what is now Israel. The land isn’t privately owned, it’s public land. The fact there is an ancient synagogue nearby does not mean Palestinians should be forced to leave their homes. Given that, I see no reason to evict anybody — this principle, by and large, applies to settlements, too1.
The way Moriel finished his article in Open Zion was on the ball:
So yes: Susya is illegal… [But] Susya is illegal under Israeli occupation “law” because it is Palestinian.
- That is, where settlements are illegally expanded onto private Palestinian land, they should be demolished immediately. But where they are built on non-private land, the best way to go is to wait for a final peace accord before removing anyone’s homes. [↩]