B'Tselem wrote today to the managers of Israel's theaters, calling them to visit the Northern West Bank and see for themselves the heavy damage to human rights inflicted by the continued existence of the Ariel settlement. B'Tselem's letter followed the managers' decision to perform plays for the first time in the West Bank, in the newly built theater in Ariel. In her letter, B'Tselem executive director Jessica Montell wrote that millions of Palestinians living under Israeli occupation in the West Bank are denied their basic rights, including the right to culture, largely as a result of Israel's settlement project.
Montell expressed her hope that the theater managers gain full knowledge of the facts in order to engage in the public debate sparked in Israel as a result of the refusal of leading theater artists to perform in Ariel.
The settlement Ariel, located approximately 16.5km east of the Green Line, and the road connecting it to Israel's sovereign territory, were built on land that served the residents of nearby Palestinian villages. Inside the municipal boundary of Ariel there remain enclaves of privately owned Palestinian land, whose owners are prohibited from reaching it. Ariel's wastewater treatment plant, which has not functioned for several years, pollutes the water sources of nearby Palestinian town Salfit. To allow Israeli settlers swift and smooth movement between Ariel and Israel, a number of Palestinian villages in the Salfit region were cut of from their regional capital, and from some of their agricultural land. These are only some examples of the infringement of Palestinian human rights by the settlement Ariel.