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Abe Hayeem presentation to RIBA Council, 19 March 2014

I’m Abe Hayeem, a long time member of the RIBA and chair of Architects and Planners for Justice in Palestine(APJP). Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to speak.  Past President Angela Brady and George Oldham must be commended in bringing this Motion to the RIBA Council.

APJP, backed by many influential architects and academics worldwide, is seeking international support for an ethical and just practice for our professions in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories.  We ask the RIBA to back the UIA resolution 13 , made in 2009 condemning illegal projects built against the Geneva Conventions by Israel. Nearly five years later nothing further has been done at the UIA to take the required positive action to suspend the IAUA. It needs a body like the RIBA to lead with its prestige and its obvious links and responsibility as the country that gave birth to and promoted the establishment of the Zionist State in Palestine.

Over the last five years, despite the above Resolution, the situation in Israel /Palestine is at its most grave and urgent, with illegal Israeli settlements expanding daily under increasing violence in the Occupied Palestinian Territory since 1967, undermining peace talks that seem to go nowhere. Israeli settlements established in the Occupied Palestinian Territory are clear violations of  Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention[vi]  and The Hague Convention of 1907[vii] . On both sets of law and agreement on settlements, illegality is the consensus position of the international community including the European Union, the United Nations, and the United States government. This is why international action is needed, more than mere condemnation by the world powers, who it seems collude with Israel as allies.

We have approached Israeli officials and housing ministers and municipalities including most often the Israeli Association of United Architects in protest over these projects with little or no response. http://apjp.org/signatories/
The IAUA has failed to censure its members’ participation in a huge real-estate enterprise that breaches international law and considered as participating in war crimes. Israeli architects carrying out the state’s and its military agenda is almost unique. Israel’s goal remains -maximum land with minimum Palestinians. 53,000 settler homes have been built since 1993, and 15,000 Palestinian homes destroyed. Israel’s Central Bureau of Statistics revealed earlier this week that 2013 was a record year in settlement construction, while 2014 has seen the beginning of construction of 2,534 housing projects - a rise of 123 percent from 2013.

Just some facts and figures:
Palestinian land has become so fragmented that a viable Palestinian State has been rendered impossible. The map of Palestine, for the indigenous Palestinians, has shrunk from being 97% of the land in 1917 to 44% in 1947 to 22% in 1967. Today there is little left that could constitute a recognizable state for the Palestinians, about 5-8% is being offered in fragmented Bantustans of what originally was Palestine.
Since 1947 Israeli ‘kibbutzim’, towns and cities have been built over the ruins of Palestinian villages, houses and heritage that were wiped from the map by a form of architectural erasure. Israeli architects and planners, knowingly or not, have become a part of this situation. Apart from the seven substandard Bedouin townships, there has never been a new city  for Palestinians in Israel, while hundreds of Jewish towns, and villages have been built. Palestinians, whose population has grown seven fold, are still confined to the ‘blue-line’ restricted areas they have lived in since 1948.
After Oslo in 1993 , the West Bank was split into 3 Areas A, B and C. Area A under PA control, Area B under joint Israeli control and Area C , 62% of the West Bank, under full Israeli control, and where most of the illegal settlements are located. The West Bank is ruled under Israeli military emergency law for Palestinians whereas Israeli settlers are governed by Israeli law.
According to B’Tselem, the Israeli human rights organization, while Palestinians are generally prevented from building under a plethora of Kafkaesque laws, there are 124 official settlements[1]  for Israeli settlers in the West Bank[i] with approximately 350,000 residents in 2013. Official settlements are all authorized by the Israeli government, have approved planning schemes, and receive the same benefits and services as towns within Israel’s pre-1967 borders. Palestinians receive eight times less water than Israelis from their own  aquifers. Settlement growth has more than doubled in the last decade!
In addition to official settlements there are approximately 100 “outpost” settlements located throughout the West Bank.  Although even the Israeli government recognizes these communities as illegal, it provides most "outposts” with state funded protection and access to water, electricity, and other basic services.  
There are an additional 14 official settlements in occupied East Jerusalem. Recent estimates indicate that as many as 300,000 settlers may live in East Jerusalem. In contrast to the restrictive planning policy followed for Palestinian communities, Israeli settlements - all located within Area C - enjoy expansive allocations of land, detailed planning, hookup to advanced infrastructure and a blind eye regarding illegal construction. According to Civil Administration data for 2000-2012, 3.5 times as many demolition orders were issued and demolitions carried out for Palestinian homes in Area C as for the case of settler homes. Since 1967, over 28,000 Palestinian homes have been demolished as illegally constructed, as they are denied planning permission to build.

Jerusalem’s Development Plan, for a ‘greater Jerusalem’ is based on reducing the indigenous Palestinian population while expanding the Jewish population. Jerusalem’s boundary has grown like an amoeba out of control - encompassing over 25 Palestinian villages, whose land is still being expropriated, leading to the protests that meet which such overpowering violence by the IDF. The controversial area E1, which connects Greater Jerusalem with Maale Adumim, Israel’s largest settler city mostly on Palestinian-owned land, is now in the process of ruthless clearance of its Bedouin Palestinians, who had moved there from the Negev in 1948. In illegally annexed East Jerusalem, Jewish settlers are being moved into the heart of Palestinian neighbourhoods like Silwan and Sheikh Jarrah, with Palestinians being evicted, with erasure of their history, to make way for grandiose projects based on 2000 year old biblical ‘history’, used as a basis to claim any home or land for Jewish settlement.

‘Judaisation’ policies in East Jerusalem, the Galilee, and the mixed cities continues, to build more Jewish-only settler neighbourhoods while preventing desperately needed housing for Palestinians. Similarly, the displacement of Bedouin Palestinians in the Negev in Israel, in the occupied West Bank and Jordan Valley continues flagrantly, despite world condemnation. Parallel to this ethnic cleansing is the government’s  Prawer Plan for the Negev Bedouin -upto 70,000 will be displaced  from their unrecognized villages, deprived of services , schools or clinics, their villages suffering from repeated demolitions .

It is imperative that architects internationally raise their voice not only in condemnation of these practices, as the UIA has done, but to take positive action. In solidarity with the call from Palestinian civil society suffering too long under oppression and occupation, and the denial of civil rights, we urge the RIBA not to hesitate in backing this Motion to call for the IAUA’s suspension from the UIA, due to its failure to practice in line with the UIA Accords and Resolutions and the architect’s duty to all of society. This will send a clear message that there is a price to pay for Israel’s decades long impunity in pursuing these apartheid policies, and that the humane principles of our profession cannot be ignored. One small step by the RIBA Council in supporting this motion - one landmark leap for ethics, justice and integrity for our profession.                  
Abe Hayeem, RIBA, Chair APJP      http://apjp.org/

 

 


MOTION TO RIBA COUNCIL               19 MARCH  2014
Continue to Condone?
As seen in the world media in the past few months, there is increasing concern and condemnation worldwide over the illegal settlement-building by the Israelis to house nearly 600,000 Israeli settlers on Palestinian land, against international law.

There is mounting pressure for us not to continue to condone what we as a profession find unacceptable, where projects are being created on occupied land that defy the rights and international agreements made between Israel and Palestine since Oslo in 1993, and passed in numerous UN Resolutions since 1967.

Illegal Settlement
Israel's colonial settlement policy, has continued relentlessly over the last 5 decades in the Occupied Palestinian Territory including East Jerusalem. The active collaboration of architects and planners has been central to the creation of hundreds of illegal settlements in serious breaches of the 4th Geneva Convention  which prohibits a state from moving its civilians into territories it occupies. Further, ‘Judaisation’ projects within Israel itself, in the Negev desert and Galilee involving the dispossession of thousands of Palestinian citizens -including Bedouin, to create new Jewish settlements, are now being implemented against vociferous public protest. All of these projects involve Architects, Planners and Construction team to create them.

Worst Years of Abuse
2013 has been declared one of the worst years in human rights abuses and violence against the Palestinian people under Israel’s military rule. Amnesty International’s latest report documents Israel’s killings and brutalization of Palestinians in the West Bank over a three-year period, during peaceful protests against the illegal Separation Wall and the expropriation or their village land to expand Israeli settlements.

UIA's Resolution 13 passed at Istanbul in 2005 and re-confirmed at Brazil in 2009 states that “The UIA Council condemns development projects and the construction of buildings on land that has been ethnically purified or illegally appropriated, and projects based on regulations that are ethnically or culturally discriminatory, and similarly it condemns all action contravening the fourth Geneva Convention”.

Many representations concerning these projects, involving discriminatory Israeli law, have been made to the Israeli Association of United Architects (IAUA), which has detached itself from it's members’ continuing activities against professional ethics and the UIA Accords. The RIBA await acknowledgment of our letter of 28 Feb 2014. In fact the illegal settlement policy has accelerated in defiance of peace talks, severely compromising any possibility of an independent and sovereign Palestinian state.The UIA, having made its position clear, must now act on the violation of it’s code of ethics and defiance of it’s resolution.

RESOLUTION
Since the Israeli Association of United Architects (IAUA) has paid no regard to the UIA resolution 13 of 2005 and 2009, the RIBA calls on the UIA, as the international guardian of professional and ethical standards in our profession, to suspend the membership of the Israeli Association of United Architects, until it acts to resist these illegal projects, and observes international law, and the UIA Accords and Resolution 13. 

 

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Page last updated March 20, 2014