As you may already know, the village of Bil’in recently announced the launch of an unprecedented legal action against two Canadian companies, Green Park International Inc. and Green Mount International Inc., charging them with war crimes. The case has been filed in the Quebec Superior Court in Montreal, Canada.
Bil’in charges that these companies have violated both international law and Canadian domestic law by acting as agents of Israel, illegally constructing residences and other buildings in the West Bank, a territory internationally recognized as illegally occupied due to an act of war in 1967. According to the Fourth Geneva Convention and the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, an occupying power may not transfer its civilian population into territory that it has occupied as a result of war. Canada has similar prohibitions under its Canadian Geneva Conventions Act and its Crimes Against Humanity and War Crimes Act. Moreover, the Canadian statutes have jurisdiction over all its citizens everywhere, regardless of where in the world the offence has been committed.
Bil’in is seeking an immediate Order from the Canadian Supreme Court that these companies halt their illegal construction and provide punitive damages and other relief to the village. Upon obtaining such an Order in Canada, Bil’in intends to petition the Israeli Court to enforce the Canadian Court Order in Israel and the West Bank.
This landmark court case aims to bring international companies active in illegal settlement construction to justice. Bil’in’s case is strong, and the lawsuit will foreground the political issue of settlement colonialism as well as the legal responsibility of perpetrators abroad, regardless of the case’s actual outcome. However, if the outcome of the case is positive, other companies in other countries could be dealt with in a similar manner.