December 6, 2012 – Route of Separation Barrier Threatens to Destroy Shared Palestinian / Israeli Cultural Landscape

Route of Separation Barrier Threatens to Destroy Shared Palestinian / Israeli Cultural Landscape Site on World Heritage Tentative List

EcoPeace Petition’s Israeli High Court of Justice calling on the Israeli government to comply with International Environmental and Heritage Obligations

December 6, 2012

On Sunday December 2nd, 2012, EcoPeace Middle East together with 6 neighboring Israeli residents petitioned the Israeli High Court to stop the Israeli military from building the Separation Barrier across an area on the Tentative List for World Heritage. The EcoPeace petition follows the petition of the Palestinian village of Battir to the High Court. A hearing has been set for December 12th 2012 at 9am where both Palestinian and Israeli residents will be present.

Gidon Bromberg, Israeli Director of EcoPeace said, “The Israeli Government is obliged to protect heritage sites on the basis of various international obligations including the UNESCO World Heritage Convention and the Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict.”

Following the UN General Assembly admission of Palestine as a non-member state, this case raises concern that any destruction of cultural property associated with the building of the Wall could lead to criminal proceedings under international law.

“While Israel’s security concerns are legitimate, security cannot justify the destruction of over 4000 years of human heritage that the terraced agricultural landscape of Battir and its surroundings represent. Israel’s most celebrated general, Moshe Dayan, when negotiating the 1949 Armistice agreement knew how to strike the right balance by allowing the Battir residents unimpeded access to their lands in Israel, and hence the continued preservation of the site, in exchange for their commitment to protect the nearby railway line. Battir residents have held up to their part of the commitment. The Israeli Government, however – by proposing to build a nine meter high concrete wall, and roads and fences through the middle of what is the core area of the cultural landscape site – is failing in its obligations to find the needed balance and we are hopeful that the Israeli High Court will order the military to go back to the drawing board,” added Bromberg.

Click on the links below for the full petition and expert opinions submitted to the High Court (in Hebrew)
Petition to the Israeli High Court (Hebrew)
Translated sections of the petition (English)
Expert Opinion – Mike Turner
Expert Opinion – SPNI (Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel)
Expert Opinion – IUCN (World Conservation Union, Israel National Committee)
Expert Opinion – NPA (Israel Nature and Parks Authority)

For more information: Gidon Bromberg, EcoPeace Israeli Director: 052-4532597