Bil’in continues its court battles

This is the weekly bulletin from Bil’in which routinely reports peaceful demonstration about the building of a wall and the land grab for further illegal settlements. It is Israeli courts that have challenged the legality, but court orders have been ignored. Canadian firms are also involved in the illegal use of Palestinian land and being challenged.
1- Bilin continues its battle in the courts
2- Bil’in Canada call to action
3- One injured and dozens affected by tear gas at Bilin weekly non-violent protest against the apartheid wall.
1- Bilin continues its battle in the courts
FFJ- July 18, 2008 – Yesterday afternoon the village counsel and popular committee of Bilin met with their lawyers to discuss recent developments in two legal actions: the first, the lawsuit Bilin filed last Tuesday against two Canadian corporations, Green Park and Green Mount; the second, a follow up to a case they won last year, in which the High Court of Israel ruled that the fence in Bilin is illegal, and must be re-routed.
In the claim filed against Green Park and Green Mount International, Bilin’s legal representation argues that by building Jewish settlements in Occupied West Bank, ones like the nearby Modi’in Illit and Mattityahu East, Israel is committing war crimes. Further, they argue that anyone assisting in this crime–by planning, building, and marketing residential units in these settlements, for instance–is by virtue of abetting these crimes violating international law (see the Fourth Geneva Convention, Article 49). “This is legal history,” said one lawyer, “the first case ever to raise this argument. To some degree, we have already won just by filing it, since it will make other corporations think twice before supporting settlements. And if we succeed, we will set a huge, huge precedent.”
The claim was filed in the Superior Court of Quebec, and both Green Park and Green Mount International have given notice that they will appear in court to defend themselves. Since receiving this notice, Bilin’s legal team has been preparing for a big trial, anticipating that the defense will object to the trial itself, on the grounds that Canadian courts do not have proper jurisdiction to try this case. But Bilin intends to counter this argument, stressing that war crimes and violations of human rights concern all humanity, and hence all courts, where each and every court has a duty to try cases of this kind. If Bilin can overcome this initial objection, assert their lawyers, they will be on solid ground. The villagers of Bilin are putting out a call to their supporters to raise awareness about this groundbreaking trial. They are also putting out a call to each and every Palestinian, regardless of political party, to come together around this significant act of resistance. It’s a national issue, after all.
The second update is less uplifting. In September 2007, after an arduous trial, Israel’s High Court of Justice concluded that the section of the separation barrier that slices through Bilin’s land, cutting villagers off from over sixty percent of it, is illegal. The court ordered the Ministry of Defense and the IDF to design a new route that satisfies a few essential criteria: (1) that the new route must be planned in a way that minimizes the suffering of the village, (2) that the new route should return as much cultivated land as possible to Bilin’s side of the barrier, (3) that the planners must try to return the cultivated land of Wadi Dilib to Bilin, (4) that the new route should be placed, as much as possible, on state instead of private Palestinian land, and (5) that the new route should return a certain set of key enclaves designated by the court.
As of May 2008, Israel had yet to suggest a new route, and absolutely nothing had changed. So Bilin filed a claim against the State of Israel, contending that Israel is in contempt of its own court. One week later Israel replied that it would issue a new plan in three weeks time, and on July 6th the plan for a new route was submitted.
But this plan met none of the criteria. The new route ceded part of Wadi Dilib, but only a fraction, and nothing else. Further, the construction of the projected route will destroy 37 more acres, whereas the people of Bilin will only be allowed to recover 30.25 acres; not to mention that 17.5 of these acres have already been destroyed by the route of the previous fence. Not a hair of the proposed route will be built on state rather than Palestinian private land, not one of the key enclaves will be returned, and perhaps most strikingly: 545 of Bilin’s 1,000 acres–some 54.5 percent–will still be lost to the fence. It is clear, of course, that the Ministry of Defense and the Israeli Defense Forces have done their very best to avoid implementing any of the criteria into the new route, not by negligence, but sheer calculation.
Bilin has once again claimed that Israel is in contempt of its own court, and that Israel has “treated the ruling as dust.” Bilin has demanded that the court fine or arrest the Minister of Defense and the regional Israeli military commander. On the day this claim was filed, the court responded that it would hold a hearing on July 27th. Bilin is preparing for the hearing.
Related article: “Seeking Justice Abroad” posted July 10, 2008.


2- Bil’in Canada call to action
Dear Friends,
As you may already know, the village of Bil’in recently announced the launch of an unprecedented legal action against two Canadian companies, Green Park International Inc. and Green Mount International Inc., charging them with war crimes. The case has been filed in the Quebec Superior Court in Montreal, Canada.
Bil’in charges that these companies have violated both international law and Canadian domestic law by acting as agents of Israel, illegally constructing residences and other buildings in the West Bank, a territory internationally recognized as illegally occupied due to an act of war in 1967.
According to the Fourth Geneva Convention and the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, an occupying power may not transfer its civilian population into territory that it has occupied as a result of war. Canada has similar prohibitions under its Canadian Geneva Conventions Act and its Crimes Against Humanity and War Crimes Act. Moreover, the Canadian statutes have jurisdiction over all its citizens everywhere, regardless of where in the world the offence has been committed.
Bil’in is seeking an immediate Order from the Canadian Supreme Court that these companies halt their illegal construction and provide punitive damages to the village. Upon obtaining such an Order in Canada, Bil’in intends to petition the Israeli Court to enforce the Canadian Court Order in Israel and the West Bank.
This landmark court case aims to bring international companies active in illegal settlement construction to justice. Bil’in’s case is strong, and the lawsuit will foreground the political issue of settlement colonialism as well as the legal responsibility of perpetrators abroad, regardless of the case’s actual outcome. However, if the outcome of the case is positive, other companies in other countries could be dealt with in a similar manner.
What you can do to show your solidarity:
The village of Bil’in is calling on supporters from all over the world to join them in solidarity actions during the court case. Which will cost of approximately $50,000.
Please consider doing any one or more of the following:
• Circulate and publicize a petition of support for the village of Bil’in.
• Hold a fundraising party for the Bil’in case in your home or organization.
• Donate directly to the cause by clicking on this link: (if there isn’t one yet let’s make one!)
• Add this link to your blog, website, and organization website so visitors can donate to the fund.
• etc.
To obtain background information on Bil’in please visit www.bilin-village.org/english
3- One injured and dozens affected by tear gas at Bilin weekly non-violent protest against the apartheid wall.
Bilin – Friday 18th of July, 2008: As soon as Friday prayer finished, people of Bilin marched in their weekly protest against the apartheid wall and settlements, joined by the international and Israeli activists. The demonstrators carried banners against occupation, arrests, killings, closures and incursions against the Palestinians. They also carried posters of the martyr Dalal al Moghrabi and banners calling for the release of Palestinian prisoners from Israeli jails.
The demonstration started at Bilin Mosque through Bilin Street and the demonstrators were chanting against the apartheid wall and for the release of prisoners. The walked towards the gate of the wall and soldiers started firing tear gas and rubber bullets resulting in the injury of Adeeb Abo Rahmah and dozens affected by the tear gas.
Today there were two delegations, one of European journalists and members from the left parties of the Greek parliament who visited the village observed the demonstration and were also affected by the tear gas and heard an account of the struggle of the people of the area from the Bilin Popular Committee.
Yesterday, the lawyer of the village, Michael Sfard, visited Bilin and had a meeting with local residents and explained to them the legal status of their legal action in Canada against Canadian companies who are building settlement of Mitatyaho East (the eastern side of Modi’in Elite) on their land and explained the status of cases pending in the Israeli Supreme Court about the new path of the wall which residents are objecting to.
Thank you for you continued support,
Iyad Burnat- Head of Popular Commitee in Bilin
Head of Friends of Freedom and Justice in Bilin
Email- ffj.bilin@yahoo.com
Mobile- (00972) (0) 547847942
Office- (00972) (2) 2489129
Fax- (00972) (2) 2489129
Website

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