AT-TUWANI: At-Tuwani hosts Tony Blair to address Israeli occupation and violence in the southern West Bank
20 March 2009
AT-TUWANI: At-Tuwani hosts former U.K. Prime Minister Tony Blair to address Israeli occupation and violence in the southern West Bank
On 19 March 2009, Tony Blair, representative of the Quartet on the Middle East (See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quartet_on_the_Middle_East) visited the Palestinian village of At-Tuwani, located in the southern West Bank. His said his reason for visiting was "really to draw attention to the fact that without a new and different system applying in Area C [the area in the West Bank under Israeli military and civilian control], then it is very hard for Palestinians to enjoy the standard of living that they should enjoy and be able to develop their land as they should be able to develop in freedom."
Mr. Blair met with the mayor of At-Tuwani as well as members of Christian Peacemaker Teams and Operation Dove, who described the attacks and harassment Palestinians experience from Israeli settlers and soldiers when Palestinians attempt to access their land. The conversation also highlighted Israeli government inaction toward settler aggression, exemplified by the government's failure to follow through with the demolition orders on the illegal Israeli outpost of Havat Ma'on. When asked what he will do about this situation, Mr. Blair answered, "It's got to be stopped, hasn't it? This is what should happen. But it needs to be done in a systematic way so that the whole way this area is looked at and administered is changed to make it fair."
Under the Oslo Accords, the village of At-Tuwani is in Area C, leaving it under Israeli military and civilian control. Israeli authorities have refused to provide electricity and running water to the village, despite the fact that the Israeli settlement of Ma'on, less than a kilometer away, has access to these utilities. In addition, the Israeli government refuses to grant building permission to Palestinians in At-Tuwani and surrounding villages. Consequently, Palestinians frequently face the threat of demolition on their houses, mosques, schools, clinics, and wells. In contrast, Ma'on and Havat Ma'on and other settlements and outposts in the area continue to expand outside of regulations.
Over recent years, At-Tuwani has received increased media attention due to its residents' commitment to nonviolent resistance. Palestinians in At-Tuwani and the surrounding villages have successfully used nonviolence to reclaim their land and freedom of movement and to highlight the violence they experience under the Israeli occupation.
Photos available at http://cpt.org/gallery/album275
Background information on the At-Tuwani project is available on Christian Peacemaker Teams' website