A conference organized by Hadash and Meretz calling for the evacuation of Jewish settlers from the Palestinian West Bank city of Hebron will take place today, Monday December 31, despite its having been officially cancelled by Knesset Speaker MK Yuli Edelstein (Likud).
The event which had been slated to feature addresses from representatives of Breaking the Silence and B’Tselem as well as MKs from Hadash in the Joint List and Meretz, was scheduled to take place in the Knesset on November 26, the same day that Czech Republic President Miloš Zeman addressed the plenum. At that time, Edelstein’s office announced that it had cancelled all events that were to have taken place in the Knesset that day.
Today’s “Hebron First” conference was organized by Hadash MKs Ayman Odeh and Dov Khenin and Meretz MK Michal Rozin. It will feature a speech by B’Tselem Executive Director Hagai El-Ad, who recently spoke at the UN Security Council against Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian territories. Other participants invited to today’s event are activists from Israeli human rights and peace movements (B’Tselem, Breaking the Silence, Peace Now and Yesh Din) and Palestinians residents from Hebron.
“For 50 years, a handful of settlers living at the very heart of the Palestinian population in Hebron has been leading the government to enact a cruel segregation regime, both physical and legal, on the Palestinian population,” the invitation for the conference reads.
“Hundreds of soldiers are sent by the government to enforce this segregation, mass budgets are invested in that handful of settlers—at the expense of the public—and the friction between the populations leads to a destructive reality of violence, extreme incidents like the massacre Baruch Goldstein carried out and the Elor Azaria affair, and the loss of human lives—both Jews and Palestinians.”
“The settlement in Hebron is the expression of an extremist government policy that invests there huge sums of money and endangers human lives to strengthen and maintain a handful of extremist settlers. The evacuation of the settlement in Hebron is a first and necessary step to promoting a diplomatic solution and bringing the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to an end,” the three MKs organizing the conference said in a joint statement.