Select Committee on International Development Written Evidence

Memorandum submitted by Alpha Pools Ltd.

  My name is Candice Shinaar, and I am a British expatriate living in Israel since 1980. In 1984 my husband and I started a swimming pool company called Alpha Pools. We have travelled the length and breadth of the country building pools for Jewish and Arab customers from Nahariya in the North, to Elat in the South, and on both sides of the Green Line.[20] We employ Jewish and Arab workers from within the green line and beyond to help build our pools.

  The nature of our business has allowed us to experience first hand, on a daily basis, the kind of changes and developments that have taken place over the last few years concerning Israeli/Arab work relations.

  Although we are not able to address all the issues this committee will be looking into, we are certainly more than qualified to offer pertinent comments concerning the impact of regional developments on trade and employment, as well as proposals for aid initiatives in the development of Palestinian society.


1.a  Employment within Israel.

  We have employed Palestinians since we started our pool building company in 1984, and have experienced the significant changes since September 2000.

  Once we could easily hire Palestinians from the many pick-up points around the country. We would drive them to the work site, and at the end of the day we would either return them to the pick-up point, or very often we would drive them back to their homes. Many Palestinians became "staff" as they would be employed for the entire season. Some would work for us for successive seasons.

  However, all this has changed after September 2000 with the start of the "intifada", and the ensuing Israeli security measures.

  The main employers of Palestinians laborers are privately owned businesses, such as restaurants, and building contractors etc. I know I speak for most of us when I say that our biggest concern is "trust". Not only for our personal safety, but also over the quality of work. We have costly experience of the Palestinian strategic decision to disrupt and damage Israeli businesses. In our pool construction business we have suffered deliberate sabotage by some Palestinian workers drilling holes in PVC underground water pipes so they would leak, and pouring wet cement into them so they should be blocked, stuffing stones into electricity cables so the electrician can not push his wires through, and we have caught them pretending to tighten screws on the pool's construction components so they will come apart. Unfortunately these actions by a few adversely reflect on their innocent fellow workers causing an inevitable breakdown in trust.

  These are just a few examples of the sabotage tactics we have encountered in our line of business; other Israeli employers of Palestinians can tell you the methods they have encountered in their line of business. Because it has proved to be both dangerous and costly to employ Palestinians during the last three years, they are being replaced by foreign workers from places such as Thailand and Rumania. Israeli employers feel safe and do not have to worry about willful damage. This is an important point to bear in mind when considering suitable actions to facilitate the reemployment of Palestinians by Israeli private businesses. There will be no point in pressuring the Israeli government to take security risks, if the Israeli employers themselves are not prepared to take them.

1.b.   Attracting business to the Palestinian territory.

  Many Israeli businessmen, used to travel over the Green Line to buy goods from Palestinian manufacturers and merchants, especially in the furniture and textile industry.

  However, since the Intifada, it is no longer safe for an Israeli to enter Palestinian cities and towns. There has been lynching and murdering of Israelis who have lost their way and accidentally driven into Palestinian territory. Israeli businessmen who once helped the Palestinian economy, have now found new suppliers in other places around the world.

  In the true spirit of living side by side, Israeli families used to flock to the Arab villages and cities like Tulkarm for outings and shopping sprees, as well as to enjoy the many good restaurants which attracted thousands of Israelis on the weekends. Not only did the Palestinians enjoy Israeli customers and patronage, but also a brisk foreign tourist trade, especially in places like Bethlehem, Nazareth and Jericho. These areas are now too dangerous for Israelis or tourists to travel. What was a once a very prosperous trade and cooperation for Israelis and Palestinians has effectively been shut down due to Palestinian terror.

1.c.   Outside investors

  There were no shortage of business ideas and proposals before September 2000 either. Both the Israeli Government and the international private sector were drawing plans for new ventures that would boost the economy and provide employment for both Israelis and Palestinians. The Palestinian decision to use terror put a halt to these initiatives, and they will continue to be on hold until terror is renounced.

1.d  Conclusion

  These three aspects of the Palestinian economy, (employment within Israel, attracting business to the Palestinian territory, and outside investments in the region) all have a common denominator. They have come to a halt solely because of Palestinian terrorism. This committee may examine and reexamine the impact of Israel's security measures on the Palestinian economy, but the bottom line is, were it not for their strategic decision to wage war on Israel with daily terror attacks, their economy would have continued to flourish, as it was doing prior to September 2000.


  As it is abundantly clear that terrorism has had a disastrous effect on the Palestinian economy, the committee's first priority should be to develop programs that will end terrorism.

  With all the goodwill in the world from the international community, and generous donations for projects to stimulate the Palestinian economy, the Palestinian people need first to renounce terror and focus their attention on healthy methods of peaceful nation building, and achievements in excellence. Everything else will flow from that point.

  The Palestinians need to regain the trust of the Israeli people, foreign investors, and tourists. There is no shortage of trade opportunities and business ventures, but the Palestinians can only tap into this resource by ending terrorism.

  Easier said than done, and that is why they will need outside help from international NGOs. This committee has already received ample evidence of the Palestinian Authority's corruption, as well as evidence of how the Palestinian Authority systematically brainwash the population to aspire for martyrdom. When the people are obsessed with death and destruction, they have no thoughts of building a viable economy.

  Programs should be developed not only to make sure that hateful incitement is banned from the school system, media, and religious sermons, but it is actively replaced with projects that promote tolerance and peaceful coexistence.

  This is the role of aid in supporting political solutions to the conflict. This is also the role of aid in assisting economical rehabilitation.

November 2003

20   It may be useful for the Committee to learn, that contrary to allegations about Israeli settlements depleting water resources due to the building of private swimming pools, our experience is that very few pools have been built in these areas, and Alpha Pools has only built a handful of small semi public pools for the whole communities in Judea and Samaria (the West Bank). Together with that, one only needs to fill a pool with water just once. Proper maintenance and filtration means that the same water is used year after year. I am not an expert on the water situation, but I can say with certainty that the sparse pool building in these areas are not a cause of water depletion. Back

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