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Threatened Palestinian villagers address Members of US Congress
Kelly Leilani Main
(805) 458 6337,


House Briefing to Safeguard Palestinian Villages of Susiya,
Umm al Kheir

Children to present Pinwheels for Peace on International Peace Day, Sept.

Washington DC Palestinians from the West Bank villages of Susiya and Umm
al Kheir, which are under threat of destruction by the Israeli government,
will address members of Congress during a lunchtime briefing today,
International Peace Day, September 21. The delegation includes children and
parents who will talk about Susiyas plight, which is shared by thousands of
other Palestinians both inside Israel and in the occupied territories whose
homes and villages are threatened with destruction by Israeli authorities.

An Israeli member of Villages Group will explain why Israeli policy must
change. The children will also share their visions of peace for the future
as they present Pinwheels for Peace to members of Congress throughout the

Sponsored by the American nonprofit, Rebuilding Alliance, the briefing will
take place Today, Sept. 21 at noon in B354 in the Rayburn House Office
Building room, located on Independence Avenue between First Street SW and
South Capitol Street in Washington DC, and is open to the public.

Just before I was born, my family was forced from our homes in 1986, even
though we have clear title to our land, said Fatma Nawaje, founder and
Executive Director of the Rural Womens Association of the South Hebron
Hills. We ask Americans to hear our story and urge their members of
Congress to press Israel to recognize our right to plan our future on the
land we own.

The Palestinian village of Susiya, located near the city of Hebron in the
south of the occupied West Bank, is currently home to 55 families who hold
title to their land. Half of the homes in Susiya and all of the community`s
public structures are located in Area C where, according to the Oslo
Accords, Israel was to hold temporary control over planning and zoning.

In 2013, Susiya submitted a professionally developed master plan to Israels
occupation authorities, who rejected it arguing that the villagers would be
better off living somewhere else. With the help of the non-governmental
organization Rabbis for Human Rights, the villagers petitioned the High
Court of Israel to allow reconsideration of their master plan. Negotiations
with the Israeli army are now underway.

It is not enough for Congress to speak against the expansion of Israeli
settlements, said David Massey, an Israeli member of Villages Group who
visits these villages weekly. We want U.S. policy-makers to hear for
themselves so that they will understand what is happening in Susiya and Umm
Al Kheir and take action to keep the villages standing.

It is nearly impossible for Palestinians to obtain permits from Israeli
authorities to build in Area C, part of Israels policy of restricting the
growth of Palestinian population centers there while expanding Israeli
settlements on Palestinian land.

According to a new UN report, Under Threat: Demolition Orders in Area C of
the West Bank, the Israeli Armys Civil Administration has over 13,000
demolition orders currently pending against Palestinian homes, schools,
barns, and water cisterns.

The British, French and Belgians have funded a remarkable program to help
Palestinian villages create zoning plans just like any other town, said
Donna Baranski-Walker, Executive Director of Rebuilding Alliance.

Were especially concerned because on June 9th the High Court of Israel
denied the right of Palestinian villages in the West Bank`s Area C to plan
their own communities, leaving all decisions on zoning and planning to
Israeli occupation authorities, with no direct Palestinian representation
when it comes to the future of their towns. Palestinians are being denied
building permits and issued demolition orders without any way to stop this.
However, one thing worked: Calls from Congress kept the village of Al Aqaba

This summer, the outcry for Susiya, including from members of Congress,
stopped the Israeli Army from demolishing their village in July. If anyone
can convince Israel to stop the bulldozers and recognize Susiya`s zoning
plan, Congress can and Congress will do this because constituents ask.

Rebuilding Alliance is dedicated to rebuilding war-torn communities and
bringing the world together to make them safe. Visit our website here for
more information.

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