An open letter to PM Trudeau.
May 7, 2018
Dear Prime Minister Trudeau,
I am writing to you as chair of the United Network for Justice and Peace in Palestine and Israel (UNJPPI), a network of members and friends of the United Church of Canada, to ask you to urgently apply diplomatic and public pressure on Prime Minister Netanyahu to stop his Israeli government from demolishing the Palestinian village of Khan Al Ahmar in the occupied West Bank. If Israel follows through with the demolition orders, it would be in violation of several clauses of the Fourth Geneva Convention and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Canada as a High Contracting Party is obligated to ensure respect for the Convention and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights by Israel. Therein, we ask that you insist that Israel cease and desist from any demolitions in Khan Al Ahmar and other Palestinian villages in occupied territory. Further, that you urge Israel to respect its obligations under international law.
The Israeli government is threatening to destroy the homes and forcibly displace 173 people including 92 children so they can expand the illegal Ma’ale Adumim settlement. This action would constitute gross violations of the following articles of the Fourth Geneva Convention:
– Article 33 prohibiting collective punishment.
– Article 49 prohibiting all forcible transfers of civilian populations by an occupying power.
– Article 50 obligating the occupying power to ensure the proper working of all institutions devoted to the care and education of children. The demolition orders target the “Rubber Tire” school in this village that serves the children of the village and 150 children from neighbouring villages.
– Article 53 prohibiting the destruction of personal property by an occupying power unless it is rendered absolutely necessary by military operations.
Further, this action can be construed as an act of systematic oppression by the Israeli government committed for the purpose of establishing and maintaining domination by one ethnic group over a different ethnic group which is prohibited under the International Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid: Article II (d).
UNJPPI stands in solidarity with Israeli human rights groups in supporting the statement of B’Tselem that the forcible transfer of an entire Palestinian community in the occupied Palestinian territories would be “virtually unprecedented” since the Israeli military occupation began in 1967.
I would further note that the current situation in Khan Al Ahmar exemplifies the level of contempt for Palestinians by the Israeli government. I visited the village with the First Secretary of the Canadian Embassy in Tel Aviv. Embassy officials can testify that infrastructure to support a nearby illegal Israeli settlement is located in a fenced area adjacent to the village. Yet, the Israelis have not provided the Palestinians with access to either electricity or running water. This means Palestinians live in third world conditions while a few hundred meters away is an illegal settlement with modern infrastructure found in any city in a developed nation.
Minister of Foreign Affairs, Chrystia Freeland, said the following on Feb. 27, 2018:
“Few issues are as important as those that relate to human rights and freedoms.
We make a point of promoting and defending the terms of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and doing everything in our power to protect all people against all forms of abuse to ensure that everyone fully benefits from the fundamental rights and freedoms proclaimed in the declaration.
In 1948, representatives from many countries, including Canada, came together and drafted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which celebrates its 70th anniversary this year.”
We are encouraged by Minister Freeland’s statement and believe that Canada must take a principled leadership role in the international community and hold other governments to account – including Israel.
Based on Minister Freeland’s comments, your government’s silence on the killing of 45 Palestinians including 5 children and the wounding of over 5,000 during the peaceful March of Return in Gaza is disconcerting especially in light of comments made by the European Union nations.
I urge you as a leader who trumpets Canada’s role as a supporter of human rights to call Prime Minister Netanyahu and express Canada’s concerns with Israel’s plan to demolish Khan Al Ahmar and its disregard for the human rights of Palestinians. Further, that you insist Israel abide by the international treaties that both Canada and Israel have signed.
I look forward to your response.
Peace, Paix, Salaam, Shalom
Rev. Steve Berube
Chair: United Network for Justice and Peace in Palestine and Israel