After years of mounting pressure, Israeli billionaire Lev Leviev is finally pulling the plug on the colony-building activities by his Africa-Israel construction conglomerate. While the decision is being portrayed to the Israeli media as one which was taken earlier this week purely on financial reasons, there is reason for all who oppose the colonisation of Palestine to celebrate a little.
Israel's Coalition of Women for Peace revealed the decision after it received a letter from Leviev's Africa-Israel corporation. According to the letter, "neither the company nor any of its subsidiaries and/or other companies controlled by the company are at present involved in or have any plans for future involvement in development, construction or building of real estate in [colonies] in the West Bank." The conglomerate was involved in the construction of illegal Jewish colonies located in Har Homa, Adam, Mattityahub East and Zuffrim, and in the West Bank villages of Jayyous and Bil'in.
As long as Palestinian lands are illegally occupied and its villages colonised by the Israelis, there can be no compromise. Palestinian land belongs to Palestinian people and any construction — from the biggest construction company to the smallest spade in the earth — must not be allowed. Leviev's decision, while welcome, came after years of pressure on the billionaire. Indeed, he is a wealthy man today based on his immoral construction activities in seized lands, having reaped the rewards of colonisation in a state that treats Palestinians as a subservient people in their own land.
It is through international pressure that Leviev made his decision. His cheques to Oxfam and Unicef were unwelcome as the profits of an illegal and immoral coloniser. His diamond business was rightly shunned by stars and celebrities who did not want to be tainted by his jewels. If there is a lesson, it is that international pressure and media campaigns can have results. Those who treated Leviev as a pariah for his construction in the Occupied Territories deserve credit. It is a pity that others in the Jewish state do not follow up on his deeds, ending the illegal construction of houses on lands seized from Palestinians.