Memorandum submitted by Christian Aid
In the 50 years that Christian Aid has worked
in the Middle East, we have not seen a humanitarian crisis as
grave as that today in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. Since
Oslo, and with increased urgency since the onset of the second
intifada in September 2000, Palestinians have experienced an economic
squeeze unparalleled in the region, alongside an ever-tightening
military occupation. The relentless spiral into poverty and despair
witnessed by our own staff and by our Palestinian and Israeli
partners is the hidden story behind the daily news. Unemployment
in some communities in which we work now tops three-quarters.
1.8 million people rely on food aid and two-thirds of Palestinians
live on less than £1.25 a day. Children are as malnourished
as those in the Democratic Republic of the Congo or Zimbabwe.
The ability of humanitarian agencies to operate,
including Christian Aid's Israeli and Palestinian partners, is
under unprecedented constraint. "We have never been so penned
in, by soldiers, by checkpoints, by curfew," Jihad Ma'ashal,
director of the Union of Palestinian Medical Relief Committees,
told Christian Aid earlier this year during a visit to Parliament.
Two British MPs visiting the walled-off town of Qalqilya earlier
this year, accompanied by Christian Aid, were threatened while
trying to enter the town at the sole point of access, a military
checkpoint, when an Israeli soldier threatened to throw a grenade
at their van.
Under tighter Israeli occupation, aid has become
a lifelinebut it is a lifeline that does not provide a
Christian Aid believes that no amount of aid
will resolve the political conflict over the Israeli occupation
or bring about the peace which Israelis and Palestinians so desperately
need. The solution to Palestinian poverty is an end to occupation
and an agreement which recognises the right of Israelis and Palestinians
alike to live in peace and security.
Christian Aid unreservedly condemns the suicide
bombing and attacks on Israeli civilians by Palestinians, as do
its human rights partners in both the Occupied Palestinian Territories
and Israel. Israel's right to recognition and to safety for all
its citizens, as well as its right to independent economic development,
is not in question. Christian Aid believes that the Palestinian
people should be afforded that right as well.
This submission looks at the humanitarian crisis
today in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, the structural
reasons underlying Palestinian poverty, and the role of UK and
EU aid, including that from Christian Aid and British government,
in economic development. It looks also at how aid can further
a political solution to a seemingly intractable conflict.
Christian Aid is the official relief and development
agency of 40 church denominations in the UK and Ireland. We work
wherever the need is greatest, regardless of religion, by supporting
local organisations which are best placed to understand local
needs. Christian Aid believes in helping poor communities to find
their own solutions to the problems they face. We strive to expose
the scandals of poverty and to contribute to its eradication.
These same principles apply to our work in the
Middle East, where we have been present since the 1950s. Currently,
Christian Aid works in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT),
Israel, Lebanon, Egypt and Iraq. In the OPT and Israel, we work
with around 25 humanitarian and human rights organisations to
which we refer as "partners". Our views and our recommendations
are shaped by their experience on the ground as well as by the
findings of our own staff.
1. Humanitarian crisis
1.1 It is essential to continue humanitarian
aid in the short-term.
1.2 The international community must put
in place an international protection mechanism. This would serve
three purposes: to protect both Israeli and Palestinian civilians,
especially as an alternative to the so-called security barrier
being built around the West Bank; to enable humanitarian staff
to move freely and provide essential humanitarian aid and to monitor
any peace process.
1.3 DFID's support for Palestinian Authority
reforms is valuable and should be continued to facilitate a more
responsive and democratic government and encourage effective use
2. The Wall of separation
2.1 The UK Government must use its influence
to halt construction of the Wallone of the most serious
current threats to peace and developmentand dismantle existing
3. Structures of poverty: the occupation
and the PA
3.1 UK and other international donors must
recognise the structural constraints on Palestinian development
created by Israel's occupation and that Palestinian poverty is
in large part a creation of the occupation; aid must be given
in this context.
3.2 The UK should use its influence to press
the Israeli government to end the occupation, including the dismantling
of checkpoints and lifting of closure; the equitable distribution
of access to water; releasing of any PA tax revenue currently
held; and impose a freeze on settlements in line with its obligations
under international law.
4. Priorities for development assistance
4.1 The UK Government should contribute
to the rebuilding of Palestinian infrastructure and to the Palestinian
economy through job-creation schemes and support for private sector
expansion. Support for civil society organisations is vital.
4.2 Bilateral trade and other agreements
must comply with international law.
5. Aid and the peace process
5.1 Part of a real peace will require a
clear improvement in Palestinians' livesan end to the current
humanitarian crisis. Well-targeted, sustained and substantial
development assistance can aid in this process.
5.2 But aid is not the long-term answer:
the solutions are an end to Israeli occupation and reforms to
the PA. In this regard, UK policy must be governed by close cooperation
between all relevant government departments including the Foreign
Office, DTI and DFID so that each strand of policy reinforces
each other in the interests of achieving a lasting peace.
1. A HUMANITARIAN
1. Below the poverty line. In 1999,
just four years ago, a fifth of all Palestinians lived below the
official UN poverty line of £1.25 per day. By 2000, on the
eve of the second intifada, the proportion of Palestinians living
in poverty had climbed to just under a third. Today, 60% of all
Palestinians live below the poverty linea figure which
rises to 80% in parts of the Gaza Strip where Christian Aid partners
work. Unemployment stands at 53% of the workforce; in Gaza, it
exceeds 70%. As we wrote in our investigation into the causes
of poverty, Losing Ground: Israel, Poverty and the Palestinians,
launched in January 2003 by the Rt Hon Clare Short MP at the House
of Lords, "Palestinian society is rapidly falling into poverty
1.2 The poor get poorer. While the
trend towards greater overall poverty has slowed in recent months,
those who are classified as poorliving under the poverty
lineare getting even poorer. In 1998, average daily consumption
among poor Palestinians amounted to £0.94; by 2003 it had
fallen to £0.85.
The World Bank estimated in July 2002 that 70% of Palestinians
were living on £1.50 a day or less.
1.3 The cost of poverty. This sharp
plunge into poverty is exacting a brutal toll on Palestinians
and their children. From our daily work and that of our partners,
we can testify to the impact of rising unemployment and shrinking
salaries. In June 2003 one doctor from Christian Aid partner,
the Middle East Council of Churches, told Christian Aid staff
visiting his clinic in the Shija'ia district of Gaza City that
he had seen a marked increase in both childhood anemia and stunted
growth. Chronic malnutrition, in August 2002, stood at 13.2%,
with acute malnutrition at 9.3%.
In the West Bank, closures and curfew have caused a 52% decline
in post-natal care attendance and a similar drop in numbers of
women able to reach hospital before giving birth. Emergency services,
including those run by Christian Aid partners, are severely hampered
by closure, while rising poverty makes them all the more essential.
Nor do the statistics given above capture the full reality of
the degree of social deteriorationthe rise in domestic
violence, the impact on the school drop-out rate, and mental illnesswhich
illustrate how desperate life has become for ordinary Palestinians.
As a 16-year-old boy in Khan Yunis, whose brother was shot, told
us: "I simply want a normal life, only for one day."
1.4 Aid as a lifeline. In this context,
aid is a lifeline for increasing numbers of people, and the direct
source of foodstuffs, money for school books and small-business
loans to keep people afloat. It is also a prime source of regular
and stable employment. Together, the Palestinian Authority, the
United Nations and NGOs are key employers in the West Bank and
Gaza Strip. Private enterprise provides some employment opportunities
but remains particularly sensitive to the vagaries of the changing
political and military situation. During extended periods of curfew
or closure, for instance, NGOs and the PA continue to function
and pay their employees, whereas much private business comes almost
to a standstill.
1.5 Development under pressure. Yet,
increasingly, the work of our partners has come under difficult
external pressures, in some cases undoing years of hard work,
including that funded by the UK public. These pressures represent
a dismantling of Christian Aid partners' efforts, with international
support, to build a viable Palestinian society.
1.5.1 Destruction of projects. Farmers'
greenhouses in the north of the Gaza Strip, built by the Palestinian
Agricultural Relief Committees (PARC) to help increase production
for home consumption and export, have been bulldozed to make way
for a security zone around the Israeli settlement of Dugit. Similarly,
the construction of the separation fence and wall has caused more
destruction to agricultural programmes. The Ramallah offices of
UPMRC and other partners were ransacked during Israeli military
incursions in April 2002 including the destruction of computers
1.5.2 Human shields. Partner staff
themselves have been under threat. UPMRC employee Doctor Skafi,
was used as a human shield during a raid on Ramallah in April
2002; ambulances and their staff have been held at gunpoint. On
a regular basis, partner staff are unable to travel, blocked at
military checkpoints, and turned back at key points despite being
needed to provide urgently needed services. One reason that UPMRC
and the Israeli NGO, Physicians for Human Rights, work together
on their Saturday visits to remote West Bank villages is because
Palestinians are often denied access to the urban centres where
medical facilities are available due to roadblocks and checkpoints.
1.5.3 Humanitarian access. Not only
Palestinian, but international staff, are blocked from visiting
projects by Israeli military restrictions. Over the past three
years, Christian Aid's programme manager for Israel and the Occupied
Palestinian Territories has been repeatedly denied access to the
Gaza Strip despite being told in advance that the crossing was
open. This has seriously impeded monitoring of projects as well
as restricting essential training for partners in Gaza. Christian
Aid directors and two Anglican bishops travelling with Christian
Aid were all denied access to the Gaza Strip in May 2003.
1.5.4 Shift to emergencies. As a
result of the great demands under tightening occupation, our partners
have had to adapt the way in which they work in order to incorporate
emergency relief as well as continuing their long-term development
projects. PARC trains farmers, but it now also provides emergency
food aid. The YMCA, while still encouraging the growth of small
business, now offers emergency short-term loans for women whose
husbands have lost their jobs due to closure. This is a clear
handicap to developmentbut nevertheless essential for survival
although it is also an extra burden on our partners' capacity.
1.5.5 Inefficiency. Even where the
work of our partners is not directly impeded, the very fact of
occupation, with the partition of the Gaza Strip into three sections,
the imposition of closure and the inability of staff to travel
between the West Bank and Gaza Strip, means a huge and inefficient
organisational restructuring. Staff cannot travel what would normally
be a one hour journey between Gaza and the West Bank, or between
Jerusalem and Ramallah, to hold meetings. Duplicate systems, such
as financial arrangements or small, localised medical centres,
have to be set up in case of a staff's inability to travel or
communicate. Palestinians are aware of the waste involved in setting
up duplicate systemsbut there is no other way for them
to carry on operating at a time when they know they are more badly
needed than ever.
1.6 Palestinian Authority's use of aid.
The failure of the Palestinian Authority to tackle poverty and
develop accountable and transparent institutions is a further
cause of the ineffectiveness of aid. In part, this reflects the
PA's lack of commitment to development alongside a dearth of strong
self-government and the absence of democratic institutions. Funding
allocations show the priorities: between 1997 and 2000, the PA's
budget allocation for health was reduced from 14 to 9%, while
security amounted to 37% of the total budget.
DFID's support for PA reforms, including civil service reform,
is now creating greater accountability and a far better climate
in which aid can be used effectively.
1. Humanitarian aid for immediate relief
is essential as Palestinian poverty continues to deepen and the
humanitarian crisis mounts.
2. Donors must ensure that Israel allows
humanitarian access to the OPT so that humanitarian agencies,
including Palestinian NGOs, can carry out vital relief and development
work unhindered. Israel is obliged, as the occupying power, to
ensure safe access under the provisions of the Geneva Conventions.
3. An international protection mechanism
is essential for civilian protection on both sides. It would also
ensure that humanitarian staff are protected and able to carry
out their jobs. Such a mechanism should include an international
presence, including UK representation, in both Israel and the
4. DFID's support for essential PA reforms
should be continued.
2. THE WALL
2.1 Making way. "Standing on
the crest of the village, looking toward Israel, all the land
that we could see before us had been confiscated by the Israeli
authorities to make way for the Wall including large, well-established
olive groves, fields of vegetables and acres of greenhouses,"
wrote Christian Aid's Alison Kelly, head of the Middle East team,
during a visit to Qalqilya in October 2002. "Over 20 km2
have been confiscated from Qalqilya alone. Most of the agricultural
land was lost to the other side of the Wall. Many people now come
out of their front doors literally to face the Wall at the end
of their gardens."
2.2 The cost of the Wall. As is now
well documented in the news media, Israel's construction of the
so-called "security wall", at a cost of £1 million
a mile, is sealing off the West Bank. Once completed, it will
be a barrier, accessible only through Israeli military checkpoints
and armed gates that snakes down the entire length of the West
Bank. No other single event or development, our partners report,
is creating such conflict or such acute povertyheightening
the sense of crisis, despair and powerlessness, and stripping
Palestinians of their land and livelihoods. Christian Aid partner
B'Tselem, a leading Israeli human rights organisation, calculates
that over 210,000 Palestinians living in 67 towns, villages and
cities will be directly harmed by it. Almost 12,000 people living
in 13 communities will be imprisoned in isolated enclaves to the
west of the Wall, with another 128,500 residents cut off on the
east side. Tens of thousands of Palestinians will be separated
from their farms. Not only is the Wall carving out Palestinian
land while incorporating settlements on the Israeli side of the
Wall, but it has psychological consequences. As Alison Kelly wrote
last October, "the Wall is effectively making the area into
a giant prison camp".
2.3 Origins of the Wall. The building
of a barrier was originally proposed by the Labour Party in 1989-90
and opposed by Ariel Sharon, then in opposition. The idea was
for a barrier to follow the Green Line, thus demarcating the border,
and for settlements to be dismantled. In April 2002, the Israeli
Cabinet approved a plan to "improve and reinforce the readiness
and operational capability in copy with terrorism"
Significantly, Prime Minister Sharon approved construction providing
the Wall did not follow the Green Line, so as to avoid legitimising
the border. Both Israel left and right now oppose the Wall, the
right because it is an obstacle to settlement of the entire West
Bank, and the left because of its echoes of apartheid. Many Palestinians,
including Christian Aid partners, see the Wall as creating a de
facto border between Israel and a future Palestinian state.
2.4 Concrete and razor wire. Although
it is called a wall, the barrier is actually a combination of
wall and fence, depending on the section. The entire width of
the separation wall or fence averages 70 metres, with some areas
up to 100 metres wide. At its most extensive, the Wall consists
of an electronic "smart" fence to warn of attempts to
cross it, a trench or ditch on the east side as a barrier to vehicles,
another fence, and a paved surface road next to the delay fence.
West of the "smart fence", on the Palestinian side,
is a trace path of fine sand, to detect footprints, a two-lane
patrol road, a road for armoured vehicles and another fence. Watchtowers
and entry gates dot the periphery. An additional "depth barrier"
is planned a few kilometres east of the main Wall in areas with
large Palestinian communities so that people are forced into security
2.5 The route of the Wall. The Wall
rarely follows the Green Line demarcating the West Bank from Israel.
By deviating from the Green Line, the Wall has cut off communities
from their land and Palestinians from their villages, even snaking
into Palestinian territory to encompass Israeli settlements. Of
the proposed 350 km, 140 km has been completed. The mainstream
Israeli press has revealed plans to extend it to the Jordan Valley,
one of the region's most fertile agricultural centres and the
heartland of Palestinian agricultural production and exports,
and to restrict travel to neighbouring Jordan.
2.6 Land confiscation. The Wall reduces
the availability of farmland to West Bank Palestinians in two
ways. It has built on top of, and blocks access to, private Palestinian
land. The first phase of construction has resulted in the destruction
of 10 km2 of privately owned land in the western West Bank. Confiscation
is achieved through issuing "requisition for military needs"
orders. Plans and maps are dropped on farmers' land or posted
on trees, often leaving owners with as little as a week to appeal.
Owners of land are entitled to compensation, but few farmers have
requested it for fear of legitimising the confiscation. No appeal
cases have resulted in a reversal of the requisition orders.
According to PENGON, a network of Palestinian NGOs including Christian
Aid partners, a total of 120 square kilometres has been confiscated
to date. When British MPs Jenny Tonge and Oona King visited Qalqilya
with Christian Aid in June 2003, they met farmers who could no
longer get to their fields or greenhouses despite the promise
of access gates. The greenhouses were clearly visible on the other
side of the fence, some badly damaged.
2.7 Whose water? Because it runs
directly over the western groundwater basin, the Wall will have
a severe impact on water access. A number of villages are losing
their only source of watera devastation for olive and citrus
production, both of which account for the bulk of the West Bank's
agricultural export earnings. The Palestine Hydrology Group, a
Palestinian NGO, has listed 30 wells in the Qalqilya and Tulkarem
districts alone that have been lost in the first phase of the
wall's construction. Qalqilya itself will lose 19 wellsa
third of the town's water supply. Israel, however, will make substantial
gains in water access as the Western Aquifer Systemthe
richest of the West Bank's three groundwater basinsnow
falls on the west side of the Wall.
2.8 A dying village. The village
of Jayous has had hundreds of thousands of pounds invested in
its agricultural development since the 1980s, having been identified
by donors as a model village for development due its unusual levels
of fertility in the otherwise arid West Bank. The Wall will separate
3,000 villagers from their farmland by running 5.6 km, inside
the Green Line, decimating its agricultural capacity. Now, as
well as providing development assistance, PARC are supplying emergency
foodstuffs such as flour and cooking oil.
2.9 Isolated communities. Thirteen
communities in the northern governorates12,000 peoplewill
find themselves trapped between the Green Line to their west and
the Wall to their east. The legal status of such people remains
uncertain. Having already suffered from severe movement restrictions
into Israel, on which they once depended for employment, these
communities will now find serious restrictions in moving east
into the rest of the West Bank. Nine of the 13 lack medical facilities;
others lack emergency and specialist care such as dialysis and
chemotherapy. Based on the experience of closure, it is likely
that residents will not be able to travel to receive these essential
2.10 A farmer's story. Abdel Nasser
Mahmoud Quzmar from the village of Izbat Salman is the breadwinner
of a family of six. Once a farmer with 27,000 m2 of olive and
citrus groves, vegetables and greenhouses, he has lost almost
everything to the Wall. Besides his land which has been destroyed
by Israeli bulldozers, his land now lies behind the Wall to the
west and is inaccessible. The water cisterns which irrigate the
land have also been destroyedeven if he could get to his
land, its productivity would be reduced. All the papers, documents
and evidence that Abdel Nasser holds demonstrate his ownership
of the land. He has filed legal complaints but they have had no
response to date.
2.11 Fear of attack and Israel security.
The Israeli government argues that the Wall and fence are legitimate
security measuresthat Israeli citizens, living in fear,
must be protected from suicide bombers and other attacks. Christian
Aid questions the efficacy of the Wall as a security measure but
not Israel's right to live in security. With 12,000 Palestinians,
to date, trapped on the western side, it does not appear to have
been designed to prevent Palestinians from entering Israel. Moreover,
Palestinians are acutely aware that their rights are fundamentally
affected: their freedom of movement curtailed, their land confiscated,
and their livelihoods lost. The humanitarian consequences, by
walling off entire villages and making travel virtually impossible,
promise to be severe. These threats to Palestinians livelihoods
and freedoms cannot help but contribute to greater conflict and
strife, as well as heightening the humanitarian crisis.
1. The UK Government should use its influence
to see that construction of the Wall is halted and existing sections
2. An international protection mechanism
would be a preferable way to ensure protection of Israeli and
Palestinian civilians as opposed to the creation of physical barriers.
3. Land confiscated should be returned immediately
and compensation provided for damage to homes, orchards and wells.
3.1 From Oslo to today. Responsibility
for today's humanitarian crisis rests principally with Israel's
occupation of the OPT. But the foundations of impoverishment were
laid long ago. Starting with an already poor agrarian economy,
Palestinians have seen their hopes for a secure future eroded
by the progressive loss of land since 1948. The Oslo Accords,
which led to the creation of the PA in September 1993, failed
to address the underlying causes of poverty. And, as we have noted,
the PA's commitment to poverty eradication has been notable for
3.2 A process of de-development.
Christian Aid's Palestinian and Israeli partners have described
how actions taken by the Israeli government since Oslo, for security
or other reasons, have created a situation of de-developmentof
systematically stripping away the ingredients of a viable Palestinian
economy and society. Individually, these acts would not cause
extreme poverty. But together they add up to a series of policies
that, especially in their intensified form after September 2000,
fundamentally undermine an already vulnerable economy. As we detailed
in our January 2003 report Losing Ground, the key structural
reasons for today's poverty include:
3.2.1 Loss of land. Since the 1967
Six Day War established a new border, Israel has gradually encroached
in Palestinian land through expropriation, occupation and acquisition
of so-called "state land". After Oslo, agreement on
Israeli security meant that Israel effectively controlled 82.8%
of Palestinian territory. Since the outbreak of the second intifada,
and in particular with the construction of the Wall, more land
has been lost.
3.2.2 Settlements. According to Christian
Aid partner B'Tselem in an in-depth study, almost 42% of the West
Bank is controlled by Israeli settlements and regional municipal
councils. The number of settlers has doubled since the Oslo Accords,
to 200,000 in the West Bank (excluding East Jerusalem) and 5,000
in the Gaza Strip. Settlements around East Jerusalem include a
further 175,000 settlers in communities that surround the annexed
eastern part of the city and effectively cut it off from the West
3.2.3 Water. Israeli control over
access to water limits Palestinian irrigation for agriculture,
the drilling of boreholes and personal consumption. Israelis'
allocation of water is five times more per person than that of
Palestinians in the OPT. Israeli settlers in the Gaza Strip use
almost seven times more water than Palestinians.
3.2.4 Closure, curfew and permits.
Since the start of the second intifada, a tightening of the network
of 175 secured military checkpoints and more than 200 roadblocks
has placed three million Palestinians under virtual siege.
Not only can Palestinians not travel between Israel and the OPT,
but they cannot travel freely in their own land. Villages are
cut off from one another; it is often impossible to travel from
one part of the West Bank to another, as well as between the West
Bank and the Gaza Strip. The uncertainty as to whether journeys
can be made is both psychologically and economically damaging.
And if a journey can be made, it will almost always be longer;
what was once a 30-minute journey may take two to three hours.
In addition, Palestinians are subject to a complex permit system
by Israel whereby individuals are required to seek permits in
advance to travel from one West Bank system to another. For most
Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, Jerusalem is off-limits;
the city has been annexed by Israel and Palestinians from East
Jerusalem now have Israeli ID cards. These restrictions not only
have implications for individuals but for the economy. Palestinian
farmers, unable to get to market or with their harvest rotting
at a checkpoint, cannot compete. Between 1993 and 2002, agriculture
fell from 27% of GDP to just 7% as farmers found themselves on
an uncreasingly unequal playing field. Israel also uses curfews
as a means of controlling the population and collective punishment.
During heightened security alerts whole cities are placed under
curfew for days at a time.
3.3 Palestinian Authority and poverty.
The non-prioritisation by the PA to poverty alleviation and widespread
corruption have also contributed to the structural reasons for
the impoverishment of ordinary Palestinians. Within the OPT, there
is significant debate among NGOs about the need for Palestinian
reforms to encourage a more democratic and responsive administration.
But, by any measure, the PA's failure to deliver humanitarian
aid or essential services in the midst of crisis is also severely
constrained. From the beginning of the second intifada, in September
2000, to July 2002, the Israeli government withheld taxes collected
on behalf of the PA, claiming that funds might be used for corruption
or to support terrorism. International aid has contributed to
the construction of government buildings and schools, employment
creation and infrastructurethe building blocks of Palestinian
administration and economy, yet much of this aid has either been
poorly spent or has been lost as a direct casualty of war. From
September 2000 to the end of 2001, damage to physical infrastructure
in the OPT, including roads, water and sewage, municipal buildings,
orchards and homes, came to an estimated US$305 million.
Crop damage and the destruction of houses, particularly in 2002
and 2003, have added to the total costs.
1. Occupation must end for Palestinians
to truly benefit from development assistance. In the immediate
future the UK Government should consider use its influence to
press the Israeli Government to:
1.1.1 lift the closure and dismantle checkpoints
within the OPT, allowing the free movement of people and goods;
1.1.2 release any PA tax revenue currently
held by Israel to a transparent fiscal agency within the PA;
1.1.3 ensure equitable distribution of water
rights as directed under international law; and
1.1.4 end all land confiscations and impose
an immediate freeze on settlements.
4.1 A failure of aid under Oslo.
During the Oslo process, the Palestinian economy needed to be
transformed both to address short term need and create the framework
for enhancing livelihoods in the future. Long term international
assistance was needed to back this process. But much of the fundamental
reshaping of the economy, so badly needed, failed to occur as
the international community failed to grasp the importance of
marrying support for the political process with effective economic
support and assistance. Israel's introduction of severe closure
throughout the mid-1990s, for instance, and the concomitant collapse
in employment for Palestinians once working in Israel and collapse
in trade meant huge declines in both GNP and real per capita income18.4
and 36.2%, respectively.
By not addressing Israel's ability to impose closure, donors undercut
their own efforts to resuscitate the Palestinian economy. Indeed,
during the entire seven years of the Oslo negotiations, the key
drivers of earlier Israeli policy toward the OPT continued, including
closures, trade restrictions, and the expansion of settlements,
all of which undermined the negotiations and their progress. Rather
than addressing inequalities, key inequalities between Palestinian
and Israeli authorities were entrenched.
4.2 Priorities for UK and international
aid. This is not to say that the international community has
not responded to the plight of Palestinians with generosity; indeed,
as noted above, EU and UN assistance has kept the humanitarian
situation from reaching breaking point. But assistance needs to
include efforts to address the underlying structural problems
of the economy such as its vulnerability to and dependence on
often unskilled and temporary jobs in Israel. Employment in Israel
is essential in the short-term but is damaging to the prospects
for the development of a Palestinian economy. It is also subject
to Israel issuing permits to workers and to closures and is therefore
an unstable source of income. Assistance needs to be focused on
job creation, through efforts to raise revenue, enhance rural
livelihoods, and encourage the expansion of domestic and international
investment and trade, underpinned by efforts to diversify the
economic base. But not even international aid on a significant
scale can be separated from the context in which it is given.
Thus, no amount of international aid can stimulate Palestinian
agriculture if the land continues to be appropriated for the building
4.3 The Palestinian Authority. International
assistance, especially from the EU, has kept the PA afloat. It
is disappointing that the international community did not do more
to address the growing evidence of incompetence, corruption and
human rights violations during the Oslo period. As we mentioned
above, one positive development of the road map has been that
the PA has undergone reforms, leading to greater transparency
and accountability, a development which is acknowledged by the
EU itself and has been welcomed by Christian Aid's partners.
1. UK development assistance should recognise
the structural constraints stemming from the Israeli occupation
on Palestinian poverty alleviation and development. Any development
assistance programme which ignores this fundamental reality risks
being ineffective. The UK Government, together with other international
donors, must continue to pledge emergency aid to the OPT. But
equally importantly, donors must contribute to the rebuilding
of destroyed Palestinian infrastructure and the economy itself
through job-creation schemes, support to farmers, support for
private sector expansion and exports. Such support for a viable
Palestinian economy is essential if there is to be any prospect
of peace in the region. As long as extreme poverty and unemployment
remain, peace will not be possible.
2. The UK Government should ensure that
bilateral agreements comply with international law.
3. Development assistance must be seen in
its political context to avoid the errors of the Oslo. Providing
aid without addressing the causes of economic crisis is wasteful
and will be seen as ineffectual by Palestinians.
5. AID AND
5.1 A political solution. The performance-based
road map to peace in the Middle East is the Quartet's (US, UN,
EU and Russia) plan for creating a viable Palestinian state by
2005. The UK Government appears to have accepted the premise that
the humanitarian crisis in the OPT requires a political solution,
a position that Christian Aid has long advocated. A key to tackling
Palestinian poverty remains the willingness of the Quartet powers
to sponsor a peace process that can deliver peace with security
and dignity and which is bound by international law.
5.2 Occupation and international law.
It is essential that Israel's occupation of the OPT is viewed
within the parameters and subject to international humanitarian
law and UN resolutions. Israel, and more recently the US, have
spoken of "disputed"as opposed to "occupied"territories.
However, UN Resolutions 242 and 1397 refer to those territories
as the lands occupied by Israel in 1967. Clarity on these issues
is a prerequisite for lasting peace.
5.3 Obligations of the occupying power.
Further, Israel is bound by the Fourth Geneva Convention and Hague
Convention to provide specific protections to civilians living
in territories under occupation. Over 160 states are signatories
to the Geneva Convention. Israel accepts the applicability of
the Hague Regulations but not the Fourth Geneva Convention, specifically
article 49, which stipulates that "The Occupying Power shall
not deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into
the territory it occupies", although it undertakes to respect
its humanitarian provisions. Israel argues that the OPT was not
part of the sovereign territory of either Jordan or Egypt when
occupied, and therefore that the Convention does not apply. No
other High Contracting Party to the Convention has accepted this
5.4 A viable Palestinian state? The
road map is a welcome recognition of the need for a viable Palestinian
state. However, the Quartet have yet to define what constitutes
viability for a Palestinian state. At present, Palestinians are
subject to restrictions that govern almost every aspect of their
daily lives and which have created an extreme humanitarian crisis.
Viability must encompass a viable economy and thus include measures
to enhance the economic development of the Palestinian territories
and enable Palestinians to pull themselves out of severe poverty.
5.5 Contiguity. Viability must also
include territory that is contiguousterritory that is joined
together and under sovereign controland must not be replaced
by the notion of transportational contiguity, which would see
isolated Palestinian areas linked by road or alternative transport
systems. Such transportational contiguity would merely continue
the system of closure and division we see today which has created
such a profoundly under-developed economy.
5.6 Aid and the peace process. At
the heart of the peace process is the current humanitarian situationthe
daily struggle, for the overwhelming majority of Palestinians,
to feed their children, get them safely to school and back, keep
their jobs and undertake the most basic of journeys. Evidence
of peace will be evidence of an improvement in their lives. Well-targeted,
sustained and substantial development assistance can support this
process, and in this sense aid is vital to peace. Donors, including
the UK Government, must take care not to replicate the errors
of the Oslo Accords and undermine the success of their own negotiations.
But aid is not the answer, either to the corruption and ineffectualness
of the PA or to the continuing occupation and settlement of Palestinian
land by Israel.
1. Part of a real peace will be a clear
improvement in people's livesan end to the current humanitarian
crisis. Well-targeted, sustained and substantial development assistance
can aid in this process. The role of the UK Government, as a member
of the EU and, therefore, the Quartet, is vital.
2. But aid is not the long-term answer.
The solutions are an end to Israeli occupation and reforms to
the PA. In this regard, UK policy must be governed by close cooperation
between all relevant government departments including the Foreign
Office, DTI and DFID so that each strand of policy reinforces
each other in the interests of achieving a lasting peace.
3. International law and its impartial application
are the best guarantee of justice, peace and security for all
people in the region. Without determined international involvement,
it is difficult to imagine the realisation of the two states as
envisaged by the road map. Christian Aid urges the UK Government
to use its influence to pursue all avenues to peace.
23 Christian Aid, Losing Ground: Israel, Poverty
and the Palestinians, London: January 2003. To download a
copy see www.christian-aid.org.uk/indepth/0301isra/losing.htm Back
The World Bank, "Two years of Intifada, Closures and Palestinian
Economic Crisis", 5 March 2003. Back
USAID, "Nutritional Assessment and Sentinel Surveillance
System for the West Bank and Gaza", 5 August 2002. Back
Christian Aid, Losing Ground: Israel, Poverty and the Palestinians,
London: January 2003. p. 51. Back
Chris McGreal,"Barricade or prison? A journey along Israel's
security fence" Guardian, September 2003. Back
UNRWA report "Impact of the first phase of the security
barrier on Qalqilya, Tulkarem and Jenin districts", 29
July 2003. Back
Palestinian Environmental NGO Network, "Stop the Wall",
2003, p 111. Back
Palestine Monitor Website, 10 September 2003. Back
World Bank, "Fifteen months", p17. The impact
on investment, according to the Bank, was even higher, at US$1.2
UNSCO, "Report for April 1997", p 6. Back