A PALESTINIAN man looks out from his tent in Susiya village near Hebron in July of 2015..
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The Palestinian Authority has appealed to the international community to prevent Israel from razing the Palestinian village of Sussiya, which is located in the South Hebron Hills.
“We call on Israel to abide by international law and we ask the international community to stop Israel from destroying Palestinian villages,” PA Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah said on Tuesday, as he warned that Israeli action against the Palestinian herding village could be imminent.
On Monday, the High Court of Justice appeared to frown on a petition to save the village, as it ordered Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman to issue an opinion on the matter within two weeks.
Supreme Court President Miriam Naor told attorneys during a hearing on the matter, “Speaking for myself, this petition should be rejected.”
The petition was filed by the residents of Sussiya together with the Israeli nongovernmental group Rabbis for Human Rights in 2014.
At issue is the fate of some 100 modular structures, mostly tents or shacks, that house 300 people and provide shelter to their livestock.
The petitioners, together with Rabbis for Human Rights, asked the High Court to force the civil administration to accept the master plan they had submitted for the village in 2013, which would legalize the structures, which were erected without the proper permits.
Hearings on the matter were halted last year, when the villagers and the civil administration agreed to sit down to see if they could agree on a plan for the village, either in its current location or in a nearby alternative one.
Four meetings were held, in which progress appeared to have been made. But the process was halted when Liberman took over the Defense Ministry in June, as the civil administration waited for him to issue an opinion on the process, so they would know if it made sense to proceed.
In the absence of any direction from Liberman, a July meeting prior to the August 1 hearing was canceled.
He has in the past called for the demolition of the Sussiya village,which has been in a land battle with the state since the 1980s.
Back then the state found the location of the village problematic because it was on an archeological site.
The villagers relocated on their agricultural land to nearby caves, which the IDF destroyed in 2001. Their homes are now in an area near the Israeli settlement of Sussiya, an area zoned for agriculture use.
The Palestinian herding community rejected a plan to relocate them entirely off their lands. Talks with the civil administration in the past year have focused on a nearby location.
On Monday their attorney, Avital Sharon, told the High Court that the negotiations had progressed on a compromise plan that appeared as though it might be acceptable to both sides.
“Then two weeks ago we received a call that everything was frozen,” Sharon said and charged that the decision was “political.”
Given the current climate, “we can only imagine what the results will be,” Sharon skeptically told the High Court.