Dear [MP Name],
I write to express my deep concern over the impending eviction and demolition of Masafer Yatta, a Palestinian community in the West Bank.
On March 15th, Israel’s Supreme Court held a hearing to determine the future of eight of the twenty villages that make up Masafer Yatta. The Court has now ruled in favour of the destruction of Masafer Yatta and the eviction of over 1,000 of its residents, clearing the way for one of the largest single displacements of West Bank Palestinians since the occupation began.
Masafer Yatta’s residents have lived under the threat of eviction since the early 1980s, when Israel designated the area ‘Firing Zone 918’ for military training, prohibiting civilian presence and creating a pretext for dispossession. This designation, which has been roundly condemned by multiple Israeli human rights groups, was applied to Masafer Yatta with the explicit aim of transferring Palestinians from the area. As then-Agriculture Minister Ariel Sharon said at the time, Israel labelled Masafer Yatta a Firing Zone “in order to keep these areas, which are so vital, in our hands.” These planned expulsions are also part of Israel’s effort to eradicate the already slim possibility of a future Palestinian state.
In 1999 around 700 people were briefly expelled from Masafer Yatta before a Court ruling allowed them to return to their homes. This recent ruling – which human rights organisation B’Tselem have described as combining “baseless legal interpretation with decontextualized facts” – would traumatise a new generation of Masafer Yatta residents. With 18% of the West Bank living in so-called ‘Firing Zones’, the expulsion of Masafer Yatta would also serve as a dangerous legal precedent for hundreds of Palestinian communities.
The effort to forcibly transfer the residents of Masafer Yatta is illegal under international law, which prohibits any country from using occupied territory only for the purposes of the occupier and not the occupied population. With Israel having signalled its intention to again breach international law, it falls to the international community to make every effort to uphold it.
As my MP I am therefore asking you to ensure that this flagrant violation of human rights and international law doesn’t occur. Please take action today by raising this matter in Parliament and calling on Foreign, Common and Development Secretary Liz Truss to:
- Make it known that if Israel proceeds with forced transfer, there will be political and economic consequences for UK/Israel bilateral relations.
- Ensure that the Government condemns forced transfer at the UN Security Council.
- Consult with the US, France, Germany and other international partners to ensure common action to oppose forced transfer.