Wadi Foquin petition

Destruction of Land and Life in Wadi Foquin

General Church Budget implications: NONE
Global Implications: YES

The United Methodist Church through the General Board of Global Ministries (GBGM) supports a designated Advance Project and Community Development site in the Palestinian village of Wadi Foquin (foo-KEEN.) The Friends of Wadi Foquin, based in the California Nevada Annual Conference, has organized financial support for the partnership along with annual visits to the village. Wadi Foquin is a small agricultural village with a population of 1,300. The people are strongly tied to their land. Like many small farmers around the world, their relationship to the land is an essential part of their life.

On Thursday morning, June 11, a group of Israel Defense Force (IDF) soldiers entered Wadi Foquin accompanied by around 20 Israeli laborers and three pieces of earthmoving equipment. The machines proceeded to destroy approximately nine acres (34 dunams) of fruit trees belonging to one of the village farmers. When people from the village came out to protest they were met with tear gas and percussion bombs. As the farm owner screamed for the soldiers to stop and tried to protect his trees, he was beaten and thrown to the ground by the soldiers where he was forced to watch as $35,000 worth of trees and six years of planting and tending was destroyed in less than an hour. A total of 1,300 trees belonging to three farmers were destroyed along with two water cisterns used for irrigation.

On July 21, 2015, the village of Wadi Foquin received an order to halt construction on a soccer field that was in the process of being built for children and youth of the village. The project was funded through Advance giving through GBGM led by the Friends of Wadi Foquin. The village council has submitted an appeal to the Israeli court, and is determined to continue construction of the project to support positive youth activities in the village.

These recent actions follow land confiscation orders issued in August 2014. The Israeli Civil Administration declared over 1,000 acres of private land belonging to Wadi Foquin and neighboring Palestinian villages to be “state land.” Wadi Foquin is squeezed between the Israeli town of Tzur Haddassa, which lies inside the state of Israel, and Betar Illit, an illegal Jewish settlement in the West Bank that currently houses around 50,000 illegal settlers. Village officials believe that their private land is being confiscated to create an industrial and commercial zone that will have them completely surrounded by the illegal settlements and the new construction. Our U.S. government provides $3 billion in foreign aid to Israel on an annual basis. Our taxpayer dollars directly support the intentional destruction of land and life in Wadi Foquin as carried out by the Israeli military and Israeli Civil Administration.

BE IT RESOLVED, in keeping with a similar resolution passed at the 2015 session of the California-Nevada Annual Conference:

That the General Conference of the United Methodist Church write to Secretary of State John Kerry, President Obama, State Department officials, the U.S. Consulate in Jerusalem, and the Israeli Civil Authority to address the following items:
A) Inform them of our United Methodist relationship with the village of Wadi Foquin and our concerns over the confiscation of land and destruction of life in the village.
B) In accordance with official U.S. policy, the letter would call on U.S. officials to contact the Israeli government to immediately halt the expansion of illegal Israeli settlements and confiscation of Palestinian land.
C) To call for accountability from the Israeli government for the destruction of land and life by withholding foreign aid until accountability is in place and human rights are restored.

Date: October 13, 2015
Submitted by:
Naomi Southard, Ph.D. and Michael Yoshii
Rev. Naomi Southard and Rev. Michael Yoshii, members of the California-Nevada Annual Conference
Co-Chairs, The Friends of Wadi Foquin