London, UK, 5th March 2018 A group of Jewish students, from across the UK, has launched a campaign today against the Israeli government’s policy of issuing demolition orders on Palestinian villages in the West Bank.
The students recently visited the West Bank including the Bedouin village of Umm al-Kheir, currently under a demolition order, in which only one house has legal status under Israeli military law. The visit was organised by Yachad, the British-Jewish, pro-Israel, pro-peace movement that campaigns for a political resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and an end to the occupation.
The students have asked for urgent meetings with UK and Israeli political representatives to discuss the planned demolitions and have written to British Government officials and senior figures in the British Jewish community, including:
- The Foreign Office minister for the Middle East, Alistair Burt
- The chairs of the International Development and Foreign Affairs Select Committees, Stephen Twigg MP and Tom Tugendhat MP (respectively)
- The Israeli Ambassador to the UK, Mark Regev
- The President of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, Jonathan Arkush
- The Chair of the Jewish Leadership Council, Jonathan Goldstein
In their letter, the students said that they are “shocked” that the Israeli Government is planning to remove hundreds of people from their homes on privately-owned land in the occupied territory. They add that this policy “runs counter to basic Jewish values of justice, and to Israel’s long-term security needs”.
Natasha Lever, a Sussex University student and member of the #DontSettleforThis campaign, said:
“During a Yachad educational trip to Israel and the occupied territories I went to Umm al-Khair and learned about life in Area C under demolition orders.
“I was shocked and saddened at the quality of life in these places, as basic human needs and rights are disregarded in favour of the gradual annexation of the West Bank.
“As a group of young British Jews who passionately support and care for Israel, we want to see a peaceful resolution and support the country which represents our religion and culture, that’s why we must stand in opposition to this kind of behaviour.”
The Director of Yachad, Hannah Weisfeld, said:
“These students are committed to seeing a safe and secure Israel flourish and they recognise that demolishing these villages will only make peace harder to achieve. They should be commended for speaking up for what they believe in.
“I’m proud that Yachad continues to provide a place for British Jews to gain a greater understanding of the conflict, the impact of an ongoing occupation on both Israelis and Palestinians, and to hear narratives they may not have been previously exposed to.”