Bethlehem, 14 January 2013 – Kairos Palestine, a group of Palestinian Christians who co-authored the document "A Moment of Truth," denounces Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu's order to evacuate Bab Al Shams (Gate of the Sun), defying the High Court ruling for keeping the village for six days. Bab Al Shams is a new Palestinian village composed from tents established in opposition to Israel’s planned expansion of the Ma'ale Adumim settlement. In the early hours of January 13, Israeli special forces surrounded the village, detained all 150 overnight residents, and deposited them at Qalandia checkpoint. Netanyahu’s order explicitly defies a stay of eviction order previously issued by the High Court.
Bab Al Shams was established on January 11, when hundreds of Palestinians and international supporters erected a group of tents where Israel intends to expand the illegal settlement. It thus became the first new Palestinian village since 1967 to be built in the E1 area between East Jerusalem and the occupied Palestinian territories (oPt) on Palestinian privately owned land.
Kairos Palestine has welcomed the establishment of Bab Al Shams, considering it a creative, non-violent tool that acts both to claim basic Palestinian rights – such as living on one’s own land – and to expose the systematic violations of those rights by the illegal Israeli occupation. The subsequent eviction of its residents is yet another example of such violations, and Kairos Palestine strongly condemns this destructive act.
We urge the entire people of Palestine, as well as the Palestinian Authority, to stand behind such initiatives, the individuals and communities who brought it into existence, and its fundamental right to exist in the first place.
Further, Kairos Palestine calls upon Christian organizations, communities, and heads of churches to condemn the forced disintegration of Bab Al Shams. This incident provides Christians around the world with a powerful and direct opportunity to show solidarity with Palestinians and engage in nonviolent protest against the occupation that oppresses them.
Indeed, support for initiatives like Bab Al Shams should extend as far as possible: all world governments and entities hoping and working for a just peace in our region must protect its right to exist and denounce its evacuation. As the Israeli government shifts further more to the right, and as it persists in building more and more illegal settlements on Palestinian land, the two-state solution grows increasingly untenable. Defending Bab Al Shams is a way to defend the viability of the two-state solution itself.
With the establishment and rapid dissolution of Bab Al Shams, not only the existence of a new village is at stake; so is the very meaning of peace with justice. We urge churches worldwide to support them both.