A Canadian court is to consider a lawsuit brought by Palestinians from the West Bank town of Bilin who say two Canadian firms have committed war crimes by assisting in construction of Israeli settlements.
Activists filed the suit against Green Mount International and Green Park International – two Canadian companies contracted to build in the settlement of Modiin Illit, in a Montreal court, where the companies are registered.
In the three-day hearing at Quebec Superior Court in Montreal beginning on Monday, they will argue Bilin’s land is subject to the rules and obligations of international law because the West Bank has been under Israeli military occupation since 1967.
Halt and Demolish
The suit asks the court to halt all construction and to demolish the homes the companies have reportedly built in the settlement.
The suit is said to mark the first time a private company has been sued for investing in Israeli settlements, which are considered illegal under international law.
Bilin, a small village of about 1,700 inhabitants east of the West Bank city of Ramallah, has been the centre of protests against the Israeli separation wall.
Al Jazeera’s Nour Odeh in Ramallah says that many in Bilin hope the petition will add momentum to growing international calls for a complete Israeli freeze on settlements.
Nassir Samarah from the Popular Committees Against the Wall organization told Al Jazeera that the suit was aimed at stopping "international occupation" of the territory by the two companies.
"We are aiming that all these companies stop the illegal construction – to withdraw all their investment in the land of Palestine because they are working in Palestinian land. They are the same as the [Israeli] occupiers," he said.
However, Ronald Levy, the lawyer representing the two companies, told the Canadian Jewish News last week that he considers the suit "a media exercise intended to besmirch Israel".
"The fact that the companies are registered in Quebec is irrelevant," he said.
(Aljazeera.net English and Agencies)