Up against extraordinarily harsh diplomatic pressure from its closest allies, Israel seems to have found a way to save face without creating too much of a fuss — at least temporarily.
With more or less the entire Western world warning Israel not to demolish the Palestinian village of Susya and forcefully displace its residents, it is no surprise that the Israeli army might be seeking a way to climb down the tree it is stuck on.
So how does one announce that it might not demolish that village which it has been claiming for years has no right to exist? As a first step, you might look for an internal document you discarded years ago, one that argues the residents of Susya do actually own the land from which you want to expel them, and then leak it to the press.
That is exactly what it appears the army is doing. Somebody in the Israeli Defense Ministry leaked such a document to Haaretz over the weekend. The document reportedly says that Susya’s residents own the land they live on, a fact that would make forcefully transferring them elsewhere more difficult.
The U.S. State Department, most European Union foreign ministers, the United Nations and hundreds of activists have all joined a very public campaign to save the impoverished village in recent weeks. It is hard to remember such harsh language from Israel’s closest allies about such a specific policy in recent years.
Last month every single EU head of mission went to the village on a solidarity visit. Last week, a State Department spokesperson warned Israel that following through with its plans would be a “provocation” and that it would “set a damaging standard for displacement and land confiscation, particularly given settlement-related activity in the area.”
This past weekend, over 500 Palestinian, Israeli and international activists descended upon the South Hebron Hills hamlet to protest plans to demolish it.
Speaking at the rally, Palestinian MP Mustafa Barghoutti highlighted the effect that international pressure can have, as evidenced by the case of Susya.
“Combining popular resistance on the ground, international solidarity and boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israeli policies,” Barghoutti said,“is very productive and very effective at this stage.”
The Israeli army document that shows Susya’s residents own their land is not a reversal of policy, but whoever leaked it is trying to guide policy makers down the...Read More