Palestinians take Israeli settlements to Quebec court
By Stefan Christoff
To view original article, published by Hour on 17th July, click here
Palestinians in Bil’in hold their ground
Bil’in, a small Palestinian town in the West Bank, stands to make legal history in Canada. Palestinians from Bil’in have filed a lawsuit in Quebec Superior Court against two sister companies registered in Quebec, Green Park International and Green Mount International, currently constructing in Modi’in Illit, an exclusive Israeli settlement on lands within Bil’in’s municipal jurisdiction.
“Bil’in village and human rights attorneys both share the same goal in this legal battle – to put pressure on companies or even investors internationally to halt their involvement in illegal Israeli settlement construction,” explains Michael Sfard, an Israeli lawyer representing Bil’in. “Israeli settlement construction is the number one obstacle to lasting peace, as settlements are forcing Palestinian people from their lands, from their homes, from their towns.”
According to Michael Sfard, this lawsuit is the first time a private company is being sued for involvement in constructing Israeli settlements on Palestinian lands.
The Bil’in lawsuit asks the Quebec Superior Court to rule on whether the settlement construction violates the Fourth Geneva Convention, signed after WWII, which outlines international legalities for civilians and lands under foreign occupation. The legal submission will also ask the court to decide if the settlement construction contravenes Canada’s Crimes Against Humanity and War Crimes Act, the Quebec Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms, and the Civil Code of Quebec.
Council resolutions have described Israeli settlements as having “no legal validity.” According to the International Court of Justice, Israeli settlement construction within Palestinian lands (occupied by Israel after the 1967 Arab-Israeli war) violates international law. Despite legal rebukes at the highest international level, the government of Israel continues to back new settlement construction in the Palestinian West Bank.
“This case is part of the globalization process that the entire world is experiencing,” continues Sfard. “[The] Bil’in case illustrates that a domestic court in Quebec can have jurisdiction over an international war crime, in the case of illegal Israeli settlement construction on Bil’in’s lands.”
For more info, visit www.bilin-village.org.