Margaret Atwood, Yann Martel Urge Israel Against Relocating Palestinians, Bedouin

Ninety Canadian authors sign petition opposing Israeli plans to expel Arabs from their land.

Author and essayist Margaret Atwood and Yann Martel (“The Life of Pi”) are among the 90 Canadian writers who last week signed an open letter to the Israeli and Canadian governments against evacuating Palestinians from the South Hebron Hills and Bedouin from their lands in the Negev.

In the letter, the writers ask Israeli leaders to heed the calls by Israeli writers David Grossman, Amos Oz, A.B. Yehoshua and 21 other Israeli authors to abandon plans to evacuate some 1,000 Palestinians from several villages south of Hebron in the West Bank to clear the land for use by the Israel Defense Forces as a firing range.

“These Palestinian villagers have inhabited their homes for several centuries. Evicting them would violate international law and cause extreme hardship,” they wrote.

They also called on the Israeli government to “reject the Begin-Prawer Plan currently before the Knesset which, if fully implemented, would result in the forced relocation of between 20,000 and 70,000 Bedouin citizens of Israel from their homes in the Negev. This plan would also result in the destruction of up to 35 'unrecognized’ Bedouin villages.”

The Canadian writers also suggest that the Israeli government “heed the European Parliament’s call to withdraw the Plan, which violates the constitutional rights of the Bedouin to property, dignity and equality.” They argue that the planned evacuations are unjust and will do great damage to Israel’s reputation.

From the Canadian government they demanded diplomatic initiatives to encourage Israeli leaders to cancel the plans.

The writers ended the letter by quoting the Israeli writers, who said, “Each and every one of us bears the moral obligation to try and relieve the suffering.”

AP