Prime Minister Hamdallah Hails Susiya as Symbol of Steadfastness, Vows Support

HEBRON, July 29, 2015 (WAFA) – Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah hailed the Hebron village of Susiya which is currently on the brink of demolition as a symbol of challenge and steadfastness and vowed to support its people during an official visit to the village on Wednesday.

“We have come here today to convey to the world the suffering and struggle of our people in Susiya who symbolize challenge and steadfastness on their own land,” said Hamdallah addressing the villagers.

Hamdallah made these remarks as part of a solidarity visit to the village, where he was accompanied by a ministerial delegation including Agriculture and Social Affairs Minister Shawqi al-Ayasa, Local Government Minister Nayef Abu Khalaf and Health Minister Jawad ‘Awad together with a host of diplomats, human rights activists and representatives of international organizations.

Expressing his absolute solidarity and support for the village, Hamdallah noted that Susiya has recently become the center of international attention thanks to the courage of its people.

Hamdallah also expressed President Mahmoud Abbas’ sense of pride in the villagers’ “epic firmness” and affirmed the Palestinian leadership’s ongoing efforts to internationalize the Palestinian cause and convey the villagers’ suffering to international forums in order to provide them with effective protection.

At the end of his solidarity visit, Hamdallah called upon all influential institutions to intervene to end the villagers’ aggravating suffering and oblige Israel to halt the forceful displacement policy, comply with the rules of international law, release Palestinian detainees, lift the Gaza blockade and stop hindering the reconstruction process.

Hamdallah’s visit came days after some 500 Palestinian, Israeli and international activists protested against Israel’s plan to expel the villagers and demolish the village as part of an international campaign to protest the demolition.

Susiya has been under the constant threat of being demolished by Israel since last May when the Israeli High Court approved the demolition of villagers’ tents which function as their only homes and the relocation of about 300 Bedouin villagers.

The villagers were handed orders by Israel’s ‘Civil Administration’ on July 15  to destroy some 40 homes and other structures in the village, including a clinic, animal shelters, storerooms and outhouses, partly constructed with funding from European Union.

In an urgent letter sent to the EU Diplomacy Chief Federica Mogherini calling for suspension of the EU Association Agreement with Israel over the planned demolition of Susiya, a group of 21 European parliamentarians said: “Many of the occupants of the Palestinian village of Susiya are from families expelled from the original site of the village in 1986 to make way for an Israeli archeological park, run by settlers who had established the rival Jewish settlement of Susiya three years earlier.”

“In the face of such ongoing violations of Palestinian’s human rights we call on you to suspend the EU Association Agreement with Israel. The Agreement is based on mutual respect for human rights and democratic principles, as explicitly stated in article 2 of the Agreement. However the ongoing authorization of the demolition of Palestinian homes by the Israeli government, as well as several human rights abuses, is in breach of Israel’s commitments under article 2 of the Agreement. The EU cannot continue to tolerate such actions by Israel,” argued the parliamentarians.

On a daily press brief on July 16, State Department Spokesman John Kirby expressed the US opposition to Israel’s planned demolition of Susiya.

“We strongly urge the Israeli authorities to refrain from carrying out any demolitions in the village. Demolition of this Palestinian village or of parts of it, and evictions of Palestinians from their homes would be harmful and provocative,” Kirby stated.

“Such actions have an impact beyond those individuals and families who are evicted. We are concerned that the demolition of this village may worsen the atmosphere for a peaceful resolution and would set a damaging standard for displacement and land confiscation, particularly given settlement-related activity in the area,” he added.