On 19 March 2009, Tony Blair, special middle east envoy of the Quartet, visited At-Tuwani. During his visit, Blair assured villagers had given oral permission had been given by the Israeli DCO to begin the work needed to bring electricity to their village. He said:
...without a new and different system applying in Area C [the area in the West Bank under Israeli military and civilian control], then it is very hard for Palestinians to enjoy the standard of living that they should enjoy and be able to develop their land as they should be able to develop in freedom.
Then On Tuesday, 28 July, members of the Israeli DCO issued a demolition order to a newly constructed electricity pylons in At-Tuwani.
It's 2009. At-Tuwani should be able to have electricity. Tony Blair promised to ensure they could. It's time to hold him to his word - and hold Israel to its responsibilities as an occupying power.
On 25 May 2009, the DCO entered the village of At-Tuwani and ordered villagers to halt construction work on new electricity pylons in the village. No written orders were delivered. Saber Hreini, head of the At-Tuwani Village Council, wrote to Blair requesting his help in obtaining written permission for the electricity work to continue:
We hope that in your role as envoy for the Quartet, you can be of assistance to us in contacting the Israeli government with the hopes of procuring written permission for these projects. We fear without written permission our problems will continue.
Tony Blair never responded.
Action to Take
Contact the Quartet:
Stefan Szetesi, Private Sector Development Officer
Office of the Quartet Representative Telephone: +972 2 633 3333
The Quartet is the body consisting of representatives of the United Nations, the United States, the European Union, and Russia responsible for facilitating peace talks between the Israeli government and the Palestinian Authority. Tony Blair is currently the special envoy for the Quartet to the Middle East. Currently At-Tuwani receives only four hours electricity a day, supplied by a diesel generator operated andpaid for by the villagers. The illegal Israeli settlement and outposts of Ma’on, Havat Ma’on, and Avigail, located within 2km of At-Tuwani, are supplied by electricity from the main Israeli power grid.
Israel, as the occupying power*, is responsible for the general welfare of the occupied Palestinian civilian population. Whilst providing electricity and water to Israeli settlements and outposts in the occupied Palestinian territories they fail to supply these basic services to Palestinian towns and villages. In this most recent move they are now threatening to demolish the villagers attempts to improve their living conditions.
* International Humanitarian law (1907 Hague Regulation and 1949 Fourth Geneva Conventions) obliges the occupying power to ensure the welfare of the occupied population.