(June 12) – Israel’s forcible transfer of thousands of Palestinians has been denounced as a war crime by over 300 elected officials, legal scholars, academics, artists, faith leaders and activists from around the world.
The universal show of solidarity to the Palestinians was published in an open letter which voiced strong opposition to Israel’s plans to forcibly transfer thousands of Palestinians living in farming-shepherding communities in the occupied West Bank.
Signatories include 90 members of parliament, many of whom are from the EU and UK parliaments. Other notable signatories include ten Israel Prize laureates, film director Ken Loach, artists Ai Weiwei, author Alice Walker, academic Noam Chomsky and several musicians. Dozens of Rabbis have also signed the letter denouncing Israel for what many would describe ethnic cleansing.
“Forcible transfer – by direct physical force or by creating a coercive environment that makes residents leave their homes – is a war crime,” the letter states.
Mentioning, in particular, residents facing expulsion from three areas; the Jordan Valley, the South Hebron Hills and East Jerusalem, the letter says that Israel “aims to establish facts on the ground that would achieve exclusive de-facto Israeli control in those areas and eventually facilitate formal annexation”.
“Israel’s plans,” the letter points out, “range from freezing Palestinian development, through minimising Palestinian foothold in major parts of the West Bank, to the destruction and transfer of entire communities.” The plans, they add, are being implemented through “coercive measures” which are listed as: not being allowed to build new private or public buildings; denied access to water grids or to pave access roads; demolitions; threats and confiscation of essential equipment.
After denouncing Israel for committing “war crimes” the letter says that “all people responsible for it – including Israeli prime minister and the minister of defence – bear personal responsibility.”
They also accuse Israel’s high court of “rubber stamping” the criminal policies of the Israeli government. “All it does is also implicate Israeli High Court justices in what is nothing short of a war crime, no matter how much legal formalism is enlisted in an effort to excuse the inexcusable,” the letter concludes.