Save Sheikh Jarrah.

On Saturday the 15th of May – Nakba Day – Wellington Palestine will be rallying on Cuba Street from 11.00AM till 12.00 Noon to protest the illegal eviction of Palestinian families from the neighbourhood of Sheikh Jarrah in occupied Jerusalem, and the violent suppression of Palestinian protesters by Israeli police.

You can help by joining us on Cuba Street, writing to your MP condemning these illegal acts and protesting on social media with the hashtag #SaveSheikhJarrah.

Wellington Palestine have sent the following letter to the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Hon Nanaia Mahuta. Please feel free to use it as a template to write to your own MP.

Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Hon Nanaia Mahuta

Tēnā koe Hon Nanaia Mahuta,

Aotearoa New Zealand must join the United Nations and the international community and call on Israel to stop the evictions of Palestinians from their homes in East Jerusalem.

Wellington Palestine calls on the New Zealand Government to immediately call on Israel to to halt all forced evictions of Palestinians from their homes in East Jerusalem and to stop the violent repression of Palestinians protesting the evictions, as the United Nations and our international allies have done.

Palestinian families are facing violent eviction from their homes in the occupied East Jerusalem neighbourhood of Sheikh Jarrah.The evictions are part of an Israel settlement project considered illegal at international law.

Hundreds of Palestinians protesting the evictions have been injured by Israeli police, including when Israeli forces stormed the Al-Aqsa Mosque where Muslim worshippers were praying during this holy month of Ramadam.

The United Nation’s human rights office (OHCHR) spokesperson, Robert Colville said that:

“Given the disturbing scenes in Sheikh Jarrah over the past few days, we wish to emphasize that East Jerusalem remains part of the occupied Palestinian territory, in which International Humanitarian Law applies. The occupying Power must respect and cannot confiscate private property in occupied territory, and must respect, unless absolutely prevented, the laws in force in the country.”

The OHCR noted that Israel cannot impose its own set of laws in occupied territory, including East Jerusalem, to evict Palestinians from their homes, and that the laws are being applied in an “an inherently discriminatory manner, based solely on the nationality or origin of the owner”.

Colville further stated that the implementation of these laws may amount to a war crime: “In practice, the implementation of these laws facilitates the transfer by Israel of its population into occupied East Jerusalem. The transfer of parts of an occupying Power’s civilian population into the territory that it occupies is prohibited under international humanitarian law and may amount to a war crime”.

The US State Department has expressed its concern about the violence, and made this statement on the evictions: “We are also deeply concerned about the potential eviction of Palestinian families in Sheikh Jarrah and Silwan neighborhoods of Jerusalem, many of whom have lived in their homes for generations. As we have consistently said, it is critical to avoid steps that exacerbate tensions or take us farther away from peace. This includes evictions in East Jerusalem, settlement activity, home demolitions, and acts of terrorism.”

The United Kingdom, France, Germany, Italy and Spain issued a joint statement calling on Israel to cease its policy of settlement expansion across the Occupied Palestinian Territories.

The European Union also restated its position that the settlements are illegal under international law and renewed its call on the Israeli gvoernment to halt settlement construction. Its spokesperson stated:

“The increase in evictions and demolitions across the occupied Palestinian territory, notably the evolving situation in Sheikh Jarrah and Silwan, in East Jerusalem, and the possible demolition of structures in the Palestinian village of al-Walajeh, are also alarming. Such unilateral actions are illegal under international humanitarian law and only fuel tensions on the ground . The Israeli authorities should cease these activities …the EU reiterates its firm condemnation of violence and calls for calm and restraint from all actors at this sensitive time.”

We urge the Minister of Foreign Affairs to immediately call on Israel to halt it evictions of Palestinians in East Jerusalem and its violent repression of those engaging in legitimate protest. The New Zealand Government must call on Israel to abide by international law, including by ceasing the expansion of illegal settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.

Aotearoa New Zealand prides itself on its reputation as a moral actor on the international stage and as Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said in her address to the UN General Assembly, at the Nelson Mandela Peace Summit in 2018:

“We must not be silent in the face of intolerance, hate and discrimination. We must speak for those who do not have a voice. We must pursue equal rights for all.”

If New Zealand remains silent on this issue we will be out of step with our international allies and undermining our reputation as a nation that stands for international human rights and justice.

Nā mātou, nā

Neil Ballantyne, Co-Chair and Kate Slankard-Stone, Secretary

Wellington Palestine.

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