Village of Jayyous asks Norway to divest from Lev Leviev’s Companies

May 4th, 2009

The Council on Ethics
Norwegian Government Pension Fund
Government of Norway

Dear Members of the Council on Ethics,

The people of Jayyous were deeply saddened to learn that the government of Norway has invested its pension funds in Lev Leviev’s company Africa-Israel. Leviev is the co-owner of Leader Management and Development, the company that is building the Israeli settlement of Zufim on our village’s land. According to media reports, Danya Cebus, a subsidiary of Leviev’s company Africa-Israel, has also built Israeli settlements on Bil’in’s land, as well as the settlements of Har Homa and Maale Adumim around Jerusalem. Leviev is destroying the olive groves and farms that have sustained Jayyous and other Palestinian villages for centuries, profiting from human rights abuses and violating international law. We call on the government and people of Norway to follow the lead of UNICEF, Oxfam, and most recently the British government, and end Norway’s relationship with Leviev’s companies due to their construction of Israeli settlements.

We invite you to visit Jayyous and other villages, and witness firsthand what Leviev's companies Leader and Africa Israel are doing to our lands. Jayyous was one of the most productive agricultural areas in the West Bank. Today, many families from our village live in poverty because they can no longer reach their farmland due to Israel's construction of a wall on our land, a wall intended to annex Jayyous' land for the expansion of Zufim settlement.

During the 1990's it became clear to the people of Jayyous that Leader was our enemy. After Israel declared parts of Jayyous land "state land," Leader used bulldozers to clear our land for houses for Israeli settlers, and TNT to detonate more than 16 acres for a quarry. They uprooted all the olive trees on that land. As a direct result of the quarry work, all the vegetables and fruit nearby were covered with dust. Leader also uprooted the olive trees on two other plots. Many olive trees died because sewage from Zufim ran for many years through neighboring plots. Other plots were annexed to Zufim. Leader then announced that it would build 1500 new homes for "North Zufim" in a large area located 1.2 miles north of the existing Zufim settlement. Settlement construction as well as the exploitation of our natural resources in the quarry are clear violations of the IV Geneva Convention.

In 2002 the Israel government began building its wall deep inside Jayyous, up to 3.5 miles from the border with Israel, in order to annex 75% of Jayyous' land (1700 acres) as well as six underground wells to Zufim. 130 acres of Jayyous' land have been destroyed, 4,000 trees uprooted and 75% of our land cut off. The land being cut off for Zufim's expansion had been used to grow fruits and vegetables which sustain our village's economy.

The Israeli government is now bulldozing more of our farmland and olive trees for a new wall route. The new route would still annex most of Jayyous' best farmland and its water resources, stealing Jayyous' land for Leviev to expand Zufim.

Jayyous organized its first peaceful protests, which are supported by Israeli and international activists, in 2002 when the first bulldozers started to destroy our land, and we are still actively fighting the Wall today. It is clear to all of us that as long as the Wall and the settlements exist there is no hope for our village and no future for our youth.

Out of 3400 residents of the farming village, only a little over 110 people are currently granted permits to pass through the gate in the Wall to reach their farmland, which in many cases happens to be the very area where Leader plans to expand Zufim. The number of permit holders has been constantly decreasing since November 2008, when demonstrations against the Wall in Jayyous gained strength. As a form of collective punishment, the Israeli authorities have stopped processing some 80% of the applications for permit renewal and the 110 existing permits are expiring one by one. With the large majority of farmers denied access to their land, hundreds of Israeli and international activists have helped us to harvest our olives this fall. As a result, our once-prosperous farming village, which once provided food for 60,000 Palestinians, is now impoverished.

Leviev's settlement and Israel's wall have devastated our village's economy to such a degree that some parents explain that they find it difficult to cover school expenses like tuition, clothes, and books. Students who want to attend higher education in Qalqiliya, where the closest university is located, face a checkpoint that is randomly closed for them and where they are continuously submitted to humiliation and harassment. Despite the hardships caused by the settlement, the wall and the checkpoint, Jayyous remains first in the Qalqilya region in educational achievement. Our community is as strongly committed to education as we are to holding onto our land, because both represent an investment in our village's future.

In Jayyous, we are engaged in a struggle for justice, for our freedom - indeed, for our very lives. We call on the government and people of Norway to divest from Leviev's companies and stand with us in our struggle to save our land, our communities and the dreams of our children.


The Municipality of Jayyous

The Palestinian Grassroots Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign, Jayyous

Land Defense Committee, Jayyous

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