General, Legal Work

The “Mother of the Settlements” recognizes Susya

2 Comments 25 May 2015

Following is RHR’s response to the state’s attempts to deny the historic existence of the Palestinian village Susya. This response comes in the context of an appeal seeking a resolution to the status of Susya, submitted by RHR on behalf of the village. We have copied several critical paragraphs from that appeal below.


The state argues that no injustice has been committed against the village as a result of a series of hardships that started with the residents’ expulsion in 1986. According to the state, there was not a Palestinian village in that location to begin with, and therefore there was no expulsion of said village and thus the state has no obligations towards these residents.

The following informative paragraphs details how a senior legal advisor – who was working within the government establishment, and was known for recognizing minimal amounts of territory as belonging to Palestinians and for allocating maximum territory to settlers – could not even avoid recognizing the existence of the village or the residents’ ownership of its lands and nearby agricultural plots. This was back in 1982.

Susya’s agricultural lands are currently the site of the present-day village itself, onto which the residents were forced to move after their expulsion from the village’s original location. The expulsion followed the declaration of the village as an archaeological site.

RHR writes in the appeal:

Ms. Plia Albeck, commonly referred to as “the Mother of the Settlements,” wrote the following in an official legal opinion in 1982:

“The [ancient] synagogue is located in an area that is known as the lands of Khirbet Susya, and around an Arab village between the ancient ruins. There is a formal registration on the land of Khirbet Susya with the Land Registry, according to which this land, amounting to approximately 3000 dunam [approximately 741 acres], is privately held by many Arab owners. Therefore the area proximal to the [ancient] synagogue is in all regards privately owned.”

She goes on and writes that thousands of dunam around ‘the village that sits atop the ruins of Susya’ are under private ownership, making it difficult to locate nearby hilltops that are not private property and could be used to establish a settlement. This evidence was submitted with the text of the appeal (from: Official Report by Plia Albeck, dated 10.6.1982, and labeled ‘ע\29’). This is powerful evidence from a person deeply trusted by the respondents [the State and the settlers]. In their response to the appeal, the respondents considered it sufficient to refer vaguely to Albeck’s words by saying they “do not reflect the administrative level of proof required,” (quoted verbatim, without any explication).

Albeck persisted in her position in the matter of the private Palestinian ownership of the Susya area even when the settler movement tried to enlist her to their benefit by refraining from addressing the criminal offense of land-grabbing committed by residents of Israeli Susya. Albeck wrote in 1991:

“From past experience, I know that residents of [the settlement] Susya are building beyond their plots, and it is challenging to find a solution [to this situation] without undertaking criminal proceedings against them” (from a letter by Attorney Albeck dated 23.4.1991, labeled ‘ע\30’).

Clearly, one cannot suspect Ms. Albeck of having the best interests of the local Palestinian population at heart, since she is well-known for having spent years identifying locations for the establishment and expansion of settlements. Nevertheless, in this case, Ms. Albeck did not hide the existence of the Palestinian village atop the ancient ruins, the well-established registered private ownership of the local residents, and the trespassing of the residents of the Susya settlement onto the private lands of the petitioners.

The determination and the dishonesty of the state has led it to deny the fact that there was ever a village in Susya, despite the fact that Albeck, a civil servant and senior legal advisor who dedicated her life to ousting Palestinians, could not avoid recognizing it. This continued denial by the state speaks volumes.

Additional info on the struggle to save Susya and the discriminatory planning policies that lead to forced displacement

Stand with Susiya – NO to demolition!


Your Comments

2 Comments so far

  1. Rachamim Slonim Dwek says:

    RHR omitted the qualifier from its quote by Pia Albek. In reality it ended with, “according to Arabs.” What RHR also hides from readers is that such a village has nevver appeared on any Ottoman, British, Jordanian OR Israeli Census. There are no aerial photos of the site showing even a single domocile.

    In fact eyewitnesses like Conder and Kitchner, Guerin, Myers amd dozens of others who actually stood om the site in the last 300+ years ever mentions a single Arab home. The first thing Arab villages build are cemeteries. Where is the village cemetery? Did noone ever die in this so called village?

    RHR claims to be apolitical, a human rights defender nut that is a sick joke as it has NEVER omce helped a single one of the 350,000+ Jews in Area C. It is primarily foreign funded and one of its main benafavtors is in favt the PA through its Human Rights Secretariat.

    If you put stock in RHR ask yourself why it has never told its readers the info I have posted.


  1. Anti-boycott call rings hollow as village awaits demolition – Akiva Eldar/Al-Monitor | Plato's Guns - June 10, 2015

    […] dates back to 1839, and the village is included on 1917 maps, from the British Mandate. Even Plia Albeck, the “Mother of the Settlements,” wrote from the state prosecutor’s office in 1982 that the […]

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