The United States has warned Israel not to demolish a Palestinian village in the occupied West Bank, saying such action could have a wide impact on the region.
The US State Department said that razing buildings in the village of Susiya and displacing Palestinians would constitute a “provocative” act.
“We’re closely following developments in the village of Susiya in the West Bank, and we strongly urge the Israeli authorities to refrain from carrying out any demolitions in the village,” State Department spokesman John Kirby said on Friday.
“Demolition of this Palestinian village or of parts of it, and evictions of Palestinians from their homes would be harmful and provocative,” Kirby added.
Human rights groups say that if Israel carries out the demolition, it would force more than 300 Palestinians to leave. Israel claims the village was built “illegally.”
“Such actions have an impact beyond those individuals and families who are evicted,” Kirby said. “We are concerned that the demolition of this village may worsen the atmosphere for a peaceful resolution and would set a damaging standard for displacement and land confiscation, particularly given settlement-related activity in the area.”
“We urge Israeli authorities to work with the residents of the village to finalize a plan for the village that addresses the residents’ humanitarian needs,” the State Department spokesman added.
The latest US warning comes after the European Union made a similar call on Israel last month not to demolish the village.
The village is located just a hundred meters away from an Israeli settlement in southern al-Khalil (Hebron). Israeli settlers living illegally in the area already control over 300 hectares of Susiya’s land.
More than half a million Israelis live in over 120 illegal settlements built since Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian territories of the West Bank and East al-Quds (Jerusalem) in 1967.
According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), Israel demolished 590 Palestinian-owned structures in the occupied West Bank and East al-Quds last year, displacing 1,177 people.