On 27 August former US president Jimmy Carter, Mrs. Carter and Archbishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa visited the site of the Apartheid Wall on the land of the village of Bil’in. The Carters and Archbishop Tutu came to Bil’in together with their colleagues from The 'Elders' delegation, former Brazilian president Fernando Henrique Cardoso, former Norwegian prime minister Gro Brundtland, former Irish president and former United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Mary Robinson, Indian human rights activist Ela Bhatt, and renowned businessmen Richard Branson and Jeff Skoll.
Pointing to the land on the other side of the Wall where the Occupation settlement of Modi’in Illit is being built, Carter said: “This is not Israel; this is Palestine and settlements must be removed from Palestinian land so that justice will be restored in the area.” Desmond Tutu encouraged the Palestinian activists: “Just as a simple man named Gandhi led the successful non-violent struggle in India and simple people such as Rosa Parks . . . led the struggle for civil rights in the United States, simple people here in Bil’in are leading a non-violent struggle that will bring them their freedom. The South Africa experience proves that injustice can be dismantled.”
The 'Elders' placed symbolic stones on the monument commemorating Bassem Abu Rahme, a non-violent activist who was shot dead on 17 April while attempting to speak to Israeli soldiers during a non-violent demonstration. (See video at http://palsolidarity.org/2009/
The Bil’in popular committee and their friends, including Luisa Morgantini, the former vice president of the European Parliament, and Israeli activists welcomed the delegation and invited them to participate in Bil’in’s annual conference for non-violent popular resistance. The delegation met Raja Abu Rahme, the daughter of Adib Abu Rahme, a leading peace activist from Bil’in. Adib was taken prisoner on 10 July during a non-violent demonstration and is being held in Ofer military prison (see: http://palsolidarity.org/2009/
For almost five years the residents of Bil’in have been struggling against the annexation of more then 50% of their farmland. The village has become an international symbol of the Palestinian popular struggle against Israel's apartheid Wall. In a celebrated decision, the Israeli Supreme court ruled on 4 September 2007 the present route of the wall in Bil’in illegal. The ruling has not been implemented.