Bil’in (Village Council) v. Green Park International Ltd., 2009 QCCS 4151

Canada - Province of Québec - District of Montreal

In substance, the Action contains the following allegations:

1 - The village of Bil'in (hereafter, "Bil'in") is located in the West Bank, in Palestinian territory occupied by Israel.

2 - The Palestinian Authority appointed the Council in 2003, pursuant to the Oslo accords. Democratically elected in 2003, the Council has the mandate and authority to commence the Action. The Council claims municipal jurisdiction over the lands at the center of the dispute, not their ownership, and brings the Action on its own behalf and on behalf of the residents of Bil'in.

3 - Defendants Green Park International Inc. and Green Mount International Inc. (hereafter, the "Corporations") are registered in the Province of Québec. They are building condominiums on Bil'in lands and selling those buildings illegally.

4 - Defendant Annette Laroche is the sole director and officer of the Corporations. As such, she is deemed to be their principal and controlling mind and is therefore personally liable for their illegal conduct. By allowing herself to be named their director, she is deemed to be a participant in their illegal activities.

5 - The late Mr. Yassin was Head of the Council from 2003 to January 20, 2009, when he passed away.

6 - Mr. Yassin owned two parcels of the land on which the Corporations are carrying out their activities, specifically parcel 35, which straddles the area where the Corporations are carrying out construction, and parcel 62, which is situated entirely inside that area. Mr. Yassin had no title deed, but had Jordanian Land Tax documents, which are usually and customarily relied upon by Israel as the basis for determining land ownership claims in cases of disputed land ownership. The only available description of the location of Mr. Yassin's lands is a fiscal map.

7 - In 1991, Israel declared that portions of Bil'in lands were "state land". (The preliminary motions were not argued on the basis that this was an "annexation", i.e. a unilateral declaration of sovereignty over a territory.) The Plaintiffs admit to having no knowledge of what the Defendants knew about this.

8 - In 1996, Israel unlawfully assigned the state lands mentioned above to the local council of Modi’in Illit for the construction of a Jewish settlement in the pursuit of a policy of populating the West Bank with Israeli civilians and removing its Palestinian population to ensure that such settlements would remain part of Israel in any future agreement with Palestine (hereafter, the "Policy"). The Plaintiffs admit to having no knowledge of what the Defendants knew about the assignment of those lands by Israel to Modi'in Illit.

9 - Afterwards, the local council of Modi’in Illit assigned the lands to the Corporations. The Corporations have claimed and will claim that they have purchased the lands (hereafter, the "Lands") for development.

10 - Bil'in residents could access the Lands for agricultural purposes until 1998, when the Israeli Army severely restricted their access. Since late 2000, they cannot access the Lands.

11 - Israel has never annexed the West Bank. The Lands are therefore subject to international law, including "International Humanitarian Law".

12 - As an occupying power, it is unlawful for Israel to re-assign land over which it only has military control for non-military or security uses.

13 - Israel and, either wilfully or negligently, the Defendants, are in breach of the following provisions:
(1) Article 49 (6) of the Fourth Geneva Convention, dated August 12, 1949, ratified by Israel in 1951:
49. ("…")
(2) Subsection 3(1) of Part I of the Canadian Geneva Conventions Act and Article 85(4)(a) of Schedule V of the same act:
3. (1) Every person who, whether within or outside Canada, commits a grave breach referred to in Article 50 of Schedule I, Article 51 of Schedule II, Article 130 of Schedule III, Article 147 of Schedule IV or Article 11 or 85 of Schedule V is guilty of an indictable offence, and

(a) if the grave breach causes the death of any person, is liable to imprisonment for life; and

(b) in any other case, is liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding fourteen years.