Polish MP speaks in Parliament about Israeli policy of demolition of Palestinian homes

Polish MP speaks in Parliament about Israeli policy of demolition of Palestinian homes

Małgorzata Gosiewska – member of Polish-Palestinian Parliamentary Group spoke in Parliament about Israeli policy of demolition of Palestinian homes.

Statement delivered at 25th parliamentary session on November 9th.


Members of the House,

On Thursday, November 1st  Israeli authorities demolished Beit Arabiya (“Arabiya’s House”) which served as a Palestinian Peace Center for the sixth consecutive time since 1998, following its recent reconstruction in July this year in the aftermath of its fifth demolition in January 2012. Beit Arabiya has been demolished five times by the Israeli authorities and rebuilt each time by ICAHD’s Palestinian, Israeli and international peace activists (including Poland)

Arabiya and Salim have dedicated their home as a center for peace in the memories of Rachel Corrie and Nuha Sweidan, two women (an American and a Palestinian) who died resisting home demolitions in Gaza. In the past decade ICAHD has hosted numerous visitors at Beit Arabiya, and based its annual rebuilding camp at the house, rebuilding 186 demolished Palestinian homes.

Let me remind you that in 2011, a record year of displacement, despite the international protests, a total of 622 Palestinian structures were demolished by Israeli authorities, of which 36% (or 222) were family homes; the remainder were livelihood-related (including water storage and agricultural structures), resulting in 1,094 people displaced, almost double the number for 2010.

The UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR), in its 2011 concluding observations called Israel to stop forthwith house demolitions, forced evictions and residency revocations in the Occupied Palestinian Territory and East Jerusalem. That call was reiterated by the  UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) in its concluding observations of 2012, calling Israel to reconsider the entire policy in order to  guarantee Palestinian rights to property, access to land, access to housing and access to natural resources (especially water resources), and to eliminate any policy of “demographic balance” from its Jerusalem Master Plan as well as from its planning and zoning policy in the rest of the West Bank.

However 2012, brought another demolitions. Since the beginning of the year, 467 structures were demolished, including 140 family homes. As a result, 702 people were displaced and  offered neither alternative housing nor compensation. All recorded incidents were carried out in defiance of international law, and constitute a grave breach of the Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in time of War, to which Israel is a signatory. According to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC) Article 8, a grave breach constitutes a war crime and gives rise to individual criminal responsibility.

Israel’s discriminatory planning and zoning policies make it is extremely difficult for Palestinians to apply and successfully obtain building permits; those who do  almost never receive them. Ninety-four percent of Palestinian building permit applications have been denied in the last ten years.

Ethnic displacement, in addition to being a grave breach of international law, has severe physical, social, and  economic impact on Palestinian families and communities. It deprives communities of their main assets and sources  of physical and economic security. The impact has gender dependent manifestations, and in particular an  overwhelming effect on women and children; including disruption of primary education, post-traumatic stress  disorder, depression, and anxiety.

ICAHD (The Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions) in cooperation with Polish-Palestine Solidarity Campaign (Kampania Palestyna) asked me to raise the issue in the Polish Parliament.

ICAHD names Israeli duty-bearers as personally responsible for policies and practices that may constitute war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Małgorzata Gosiewska, MP, member of Polish-Palestine Parliamentary Group