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Canadian court dismisses Bil'in claim

Aug. 21, 2010 8:40 P.M. (Updated: Aug. 23, 2010 1:43 P.M.)
RAMALLAH (Ma'an) -- A Quebec Court of Appeal dismissed a case brought by Bil’in against Canadian companies involved in illegal settlement construction on the West Bank village’s land, legal rights group Al-Haq reported.

The claim was based on Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention which prohibits an occupying power from "transfer[ing] parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies."

The case against Green Park International Inc and Green Mountain Inc - which marketed, constructed and sold houses on the Modi’in Illit settlement - was dismissed on 11 August when the court ruled "the authorities of another country [Israel] are in a better position to judge the claim."

Bil’in’s lawyers claimed that as Israeli courts refuse to rule on the issue of legality of settlements in occupied territory they could not decide the case.

The Quebec court responded that insufficient evidence was presented to demonstrate that claim.

Al-Haq said the court failed to grasp that this was not a dispute over private land, but over the legality of settlements in occupied territory.

The legal rights group added that “The Bil’in case is a glaring example of the importance of upholding the principle that domestic courts must hold their companies to account for actions which violate international law.”

The separation wall, which cuts through Bil'in, separates villagers from around 60 percent of their land, on which Modi'in Illit has been built.

Bil'in is well known for its non-violent resistance, organizing creative, peaceful rallies against the wall every Friday for more than five years.
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