A Small Glimmer of Hope Reaches Bil'in

In its June, 2007 edition, the Peace Newsletter published an article highlighting the nonviolent struggle of Bil'in village in the West Bank of Palestine. Since February, 2005 - the date Israeli bulldozers began destruction of Bil'in's land for construction of the Apartheid Wall - the villagers have staged weekly nonviolent protests. International and Israeli activists joined in Bil'in's struggle, and the collective commitment to nonviolence has yielded some positive results.

On September 4, 2007 the village of Bil'in learned that the Israeli High Court of Justice (Supreme Court) ruled against the current path of the Wall around the village and ordered that the Israeli State propose a new, less destructive path in a "reasonable period of time." The Court also mandated that a gate in the Wall, manned by the Israeli Army, be opened daily until the Wall is moved to allow villagers access to their land, mostly used for agriculture. If the State and Defense Ministry abide by the Court's decision, a mile-long section of the Wall will be pushed further west and make more of Bil'in's land available to its owners. In its decision the Court could not justify the current path of the Wall on the basis of "security," the official rationale for the Wall's construction.

However, there are still many reasons for the village to continue its nonviolent struggle. Despite the new path of the Wall, Bil'in will still lose much of its land and the new path will not follow the internationally recognized "Green Line." The original path was meant to capture more land for expansion of the Israeli settlement block even though all settlements are illegal based on the Fourth Geneva Convention and numerous UN Security Council resolutions. These settlements still exist east of the Green Line and confiscate Bil'in's land. Nonviolent struggle and legal action seem to have their limits within the Israeli courts and defense industries.

Bil'in did celebrate its victory in September, but it vowed to continue its weekly nonviolent protests until all stolen land is returned, settlements are removed and the Wall falls. Israeli and international activists continue to stand alongside the villagers of Bil'in fighting for peace and social justice.

- Gabriel Angelone