Following Outrage, Israel Reverts Decision to Exclude Palestinians without Internet Access from Online Hearing

Illegal Jewish settlements in the West Bank. (Photo: Via Social Media)

A last-minute decision to hold a Zoom-only hearing about controversial Israeli construction plans in the occupied West Bank has been reversed after outrage, to allow Palestinians without internet access to participate, the New Arab website reported.

The Israeli governing body in the West Bank, known as the Civil Administration, planned to hold a virtual hearing on Monday about longstanding plans to build in a 12 sq km area known as E1, which stretches from occupied East Jerusalem to Ma’ale Adumim, a West Bank settlement considered illegal under international law, The New Arab noted.

The meeting was switched on Sunday from an in-person event to an online hearing, which would prevent hundreds of Palestinians with poor electricity services and internet infrastructure – many of whom face being expelled from their homes due to the construction – from attending.

After complaints from lawyers and an inquiry by Israeli newspaper Haaretz, the decision was reversed just hours before the meeting was due to take place to allow attendance both in person and via video, according to The New Arab.

Lawyers representing the Palestinians protesting against construction “complained to the Civil Administration that [Zoom-only meetings did] not allow for proper participation of the objectors,” Haaretz reported.

Hearings on Zoom, under normal circumstances, must be held with the consent of those objecting to the motion and/or plans discussed, according to an Israeli Planning Administration directive. The invitation must include an option for people to protest a Zoom-only hearing.

B’Tselem said that the construction of settlements in the E1 area will lead to the expulsion of Bedouin communities and “numerous violations of Palestinians’ human rights”.

(The New Arab, PC, Social Media)

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