US warns Israel against demolishing Palestinian town
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US warns Israel against demolishing Palestinian town

State Department urges authorities to find solution to illegally built Sussiya, whose eviction 'would be harmful and provocative'

Palestinians, foreigners and Israeli peace activists demonstrate in the southern West Bank village of Sussiya against the demolition of the Palestinian village in the Hebron Hills, on June 5, 2015. (AFP/Hazem Bader)
Palestinians, foreigners and Israeli peace activists demonstrate in the southern West Bank village of Sussiya against the demolition of the Palestinian village in the Hebron Hills, on June 5, 2015. (AFP/Hazem Bader)

The US has called on Jerusalem not to demolish a Palestinian West Bank town, which, Israeli authorities say, has been constructed illegally, warning that such action could have a wide impact on the region.

“We strongly urge the Israeli authorities to refrain from carrying out any demolitions in the village” of Sussiya, State Department spokesperson John Kirby said in a Thursday press briefing.

Israel’s Supreme Court ruled last month that the Civil Administration, Israel’s military governing authority in the West Bank, had the right to demolish Palestinian homes in Sussiya because they had been built without permission.

The town’s residents argue that they had no choice but to build illegally, because the Civil Administration rarely grants permits to Palestinians in the West Bank’s Area C — a zone officially controlled by the Israel Defense Forces as per the 1993 Oslo peace accords.

Kirby said the evictions and demolitions “would be harmful and provocative.”

US State Department Spokesman John Kirby (AP/Susan Walsh)
US State Department Spokesman John Kirby (AP/Susan Walsh)

He added that “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.”

Kirby urged Israel to work with village residents to find a solution.

In June, diplomats from all 28 European member states traveled to Sussiya to protest Israel’s decision.

The delegation visited the town in the Hebron Hills and urged Israel not to evict its 300 residents, saying that the move would reduce the possibility of achieving a two-state solution, The Telegraph UK reported.

John Gatt-Rutter, the EU representative in Jerusalem, said Sussiya had become “a byword for a policy that has deprived Palestinians of their land and resources,” according to The Telegraph.

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