The Palestinian village of Al Aqaba, in Area C of the West Bank, is a thriving model of peace in a region beleaguered by conflict. Despite being used as Israeli Army live-fire training grounds for years and being issued demolition orders on multiple occasions, the village has persevered, and is now boldly moving ahead with the construction of 15 new homes so that families can have a permanent and safe place to live.
In support of this development, and in an effort to advocate to prevent demolitions in Al Aqaba, Rebuilding Alliance launched “Rebuilding to Remain in Palestine,” a program that provides mortgage finance loans to the families who are building and works with Congress to ensure that whenever the village is threatened, Congressional intervention keeps the bulldozers at bay.
Much of Al Aqaba’s success can be attributed to the head of its Village Council, Mayor Haj Sami Sadeq, a charismatic man who was paralyzed from the neck down at the age of 16 by an Israeli soldier’s bullet. Now, Mayor Haj Sami joins Rebuilding Alliance in the United States from Oct. 25 through Nov. 19 to speak about the importance of supporting not only the development of his village, but advocating for fair planning and building rights for Palestinian communities across the West Bank. Mayor Haj Sami will travel first to California, then to Michigan, and finally to Washington, D.C. in an effort to raise the funds necessary to complete construction of the 15 homes. Congressional intervention has kept the village safe when it was under threat, and so raising awareness in this regard is also a goal of this tour.
Al Aqaba is the first village in Area C to issue its own building permits in accordance with their master plan. Area C is the 62% of the West Bank that is entirely under the administration of the Israeli Civil Administration (ICA). This means that in order to for construction to be considered authorized, Palestinian communities must receive building permits from the ICA after first submitting a master plan for approval. While 110 master plans have been submitted since 2011, only five have been approved. This leaves the vast majority of Palestinian villages vulnerable to demolition, and forced to live in constant fear that precludes the true flourishing of the community.
If you would like to book a speaking or fundraising event featuring Mayor Haj Sami, please send an email to Contact@RebuildingAlliance.org.
Rebuilding to Remain Tour
October 25 - 31, 2017: SF Bay Area
November 1 - 6: Southern California
November 7 - 12: Michigan
November 13 - 19: Washington, D.C. area
Seeking to live on the land they own, fifteen families are building houses with village-issued building permits in the Palestinian village of Al Aqaba in the West Bank's Area C. They invested all they have and need additional funds to finish, as well as international advocacy to assure their homes remain standing. Rebuilding to Remain will provide affordable loans to finish the homes and to expand our successful advocacy. Repaid loans will be re-lent to other families to build homes and hope.
In Area C, the 62% of the West Bank controlled entirely by Israel, Palestinians must obtain Israeli-approved master plans and building permits or risk demolition. However, these are nearly impossible to acquire - less than 3% were approved in 6 years. Under international law, Palestinian villages deserve the right to plan their future, just like communities everywhere. After 50 years of occupation, villagers ask your help to move forward peacefully because having a home and a job cannot wait.
With your help we will provide loans to Palestinian villagers starting in Al Aqaba and increase our advocacy to keep homes standing. In 2012, Rebuilding Alliance helped Al Aqaba design & build their first 3 homes then more families built. All are safe and standing. A Palestinian bank is finalizing agreement with Rebuilding Alliance to coinvest to make affordable construction loans as we increase grassroots & diplomatic advocacy to prevent demolition and recognize Al Aqaba's right to plan & build
Al Aqaba is a model of peace in a troubled part of the world. The measure of stability provided by new construction job opportunities and new homes supports this work of peace. With your help to launch this lending/advocacy program, Rebuilding to Remain will provide affordable financing to meet the housing needs of the 150,000 Palestinians who live in Area C, recognizing human rights and building socio-economic security by providing Palestinians with the means to build and determine their future
Al Aqaba, a little Palestinian village in the West Bank's Jordan Valley is made up of families who have lived and worked their land for generations. Even though they own clear and undisputed title to their land, 97% of this Palestinian West Bank village is under demolition orders by the Israeli Army. In 2003, soon after the High Court of Israel barred the Israeli Army from continuing to use the village as a live-fire training area, Al Aqaba's mayor, Haj Sami Sadeq, invited Rebuilding Alliance to visit. The displaced villagers longed to return home — they decided to start by building their kindergarten while saving money, registering their master plan, and applying for building permits to build their homes. The Israeli Army's Civil Administration denied their master plans (four so far). In 2004, as we were building the kindergarten, the Israeli Civil Administration issued demolition orders for all the homes but two, the mosque, the medical clinic, and the kindergarten. In 2008, the High Court of Israel ruled that, "For the time-being, the center of the village will remain standing." And with that, Al Aqaba's villagers pooled their savings and created their own credit union.
Rebuilding Alliance is proud to have helped the villagers design, finance, and build the first three Rebuilding to Remain homes for families returning home to the village of Al Aqaba!
At risk of demolition, unable to rebuild
Although Palestinian Families have lived on this land for generations, refusal to approve Palestinian town plans or issue building permits is now policy in the 62% of the West Bank solely controlled by Israel. Although Israel refuses to issue these building permits, they simultaneously issue demolition orders against all structures built without legal permission. Thousands of families and their children are at risk of displacement due to demolition orders, which have historically never been reversed. Despite the risk, families are willing to invest their life savings to build new homes for their families and future generations.
How does Rebuilding Alliance help?
Rebuilding Alliance approaches this problem from four unique perspectives, mobilizing the strength of a number of different networks to make the dream of new homes a reality:
- Precedent setting legal work
- Crowdsourced, Islamic-compliant mortgage financing
- World-wide advocacy
Villagers hope their homes will grow in love and value, give their town a future, and offer a neighborly model for peace.
Their success can end Israel's ongoing demolition of Palestinian homes and help meet the planning needs of the 150,000 Palestinians who live in the 62% of the West Bank now administered solely by Israel.