400 rabbis urge Netanyahu to end Palestinian house demolitions


More than 400 rabbis and cantors from Israel and around the world have signed a petition addressed to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, urging him to stop the practice of demolishing Palestinian homes.

The letter is in support of a petition to the High Court from Rabbis for Human Rights (RHR) which seeks to end demolitions by reforming planning and zoning laws.

RHR said in a statement: "While we wait for the decision of the judges, these rabbis and cantors are asking the State, at its own initiative, to implement moral, reasonable and fair planning and zoning principles that are in-line with international law and Jewish tradition."

Every year hundreds of Palestinian homes are demolished because they are deemed to have been built without permission. However, campaigners say that in practice it is impossible to gain permission to build and that Palestinians need homes for their expanding population.

The letter says that "planning and zoning laws severely restrict the ability of Palestinians to build homes, even on the lands that the State recognises as belonging to them".

It concludes: "The State of Israel has an obligation to ensure that every human being under her control, each created in God's image, has a fair chance to build a home for him/herself and his/her family, irrespective of the current state of the peace process or differing opinions about what areas will be under Israel's control in a future final status agreement. We urge the State of Israel to withdraw its opposition to RHR's petition."

Signatories come from Israel, the USA, Canada, Britain and other countries.