Select Committee on International Development Written Evidence

Memorandum submitted by Alan I. Davis


  This is a response to the report by Christian Aid as the conclusions drawn must be suspect. There seems to be a lack of understanding of the peoples and conflict in the area. In fact some of the recommendations would pose a serious risk to British Nationals plus Israeli security.

  My own background is a knowledge of the history and of the peoples, I only returned home from the Middle East last week and would urge you to read my comments and thence to use your judgement on the points raised. I am aware that your time is limited and therefore will attempt to precis my comments as far as possible.

  Paragraph 1. Heavy unemployment in Palestinian areas is of course one effect of strict Israeli control and clampdown, however it is obvious that this control would not be necessary if attacks on Israeli civilians were not part of current Palestinian strategy. Everybody I have spoken to wishes for separation of the peoples so that these controls would not be necessary and a calming period of reconciliation to take place (some years). Christian Aid complain that Palestinians are suffering as they are not allowed access to work in Israeli areas; but of course they are not allowed, each worker must be viewed as a potential suicide bomber and this Israeli government was freely elected on the promise to reduce attacks. In this respect they have succeeded.

  The children who are as malnourished as those in Congo or Zimbabwe does not bear testimony. I certainly have not seen malnourishment of African proportions anywhere in the Middle East, through my own eyes or through TV media.

  Paragraph 4. With the conclusion "no amount of aid will resolve the political conflict" is agreed, but it must be pointed out that ex- Israeli Prime Minister Barak and Arafat seemed to almost reach agreement where over 90% of the W Bank would be handed to the PA. However Arafat could not control the militants and the bombings increased; then Arafat distanced himself from the Peace Process by introducing the Law of Return. Any Demographic study would show that the proposed "returnees" would in a matter of a few years cause an end to the, already overcrowded, Jewish State as Israel is a democracy. Arafat knew the demand would have to be vetoed by Israel and so the Process was effectively torpedoed. There wasn't even an offer of an interim agreement by Arafat.


  1.2  International Protection Mechanism. Christian Aid cannot request British or US troops to police any agreed borders. It must be remembered that after 9/11 Palestinians were celebrating in the streets and it would be madness to place our troops in such a position. There are no other countries capable of keeping the peace or acceptable to Israel. Perhaps with a constructed fence and full separation then Allied troops could patrol the Western line and Third World troops the Eastern.

  2.1  "The construction of the wall is the most serious threat to peace"? Obviously the militant groups such as Hamas are the greatest obstacle to peace. The wall is actually the only viable way to progress. C. A. complain that the wall encompasses Israeli settlements within the W Bank but Israel has a duty to protect its citizens. Israel has demonstrated readiness to give up land in return for peace but in the absence of any agreement whatsoever, there is simply no point in evacuating. It is further clear that the extremist groups talk of "occupied territory" meaning the whole of the State of Israel which can never be an acceptable entity to them. Therefore a partial pull-back will not achieve anything until the militants are controlled. It is ludicrous to suggest that this conflict, getting worse over the decades, is without resolve because of the Wall, it is not even completed yet and can be moved as they did on the Northern border.

  3.2 & 5.2  "Occupation". I would agree with the US definition of "disputed" territories. These lands were once Ottoman controlled, then British Mandate, then Jordanian. However they were always populated by Jews hence the names "Hebron" and "Jericho" from biblical days until the massacres of the 1920's. Obviously the Jordanian period from 1948-67 caused most remaining Jews to flee if they were able. Clearly it was not a Palestinian State and my own view is that the land is not "occupied", there is an absence of legal sovereignty hence the US definition.

  4.1  In view of the squandering of EU aid to the PA, some of which appears to have ended up in Swiss bank accounts according to media reports, any contribution by the UK Government would appear to be ill-advised. The "transparency" called for by C. A. would be of great benefit but guarantees of transparency a prerequisite.

  There are always news reports of "refugee camps" in the disputed territories. The refugee problem arose in 1948 when the Arabs invaded and some Palestinians fled with the promise of a rich pickings on their return, many stayed and became Israeli Citizens. Following this War of Independence a similar amount of Jews fled persecution in Arab countries and settled in Israel. It was the responsibility of the Jewish Diaspora to support these Jewish refugees and ensure their smooth absorption into their new country which was just the size of Wales! After 50 years it is time for Arab Oil Money from the world over to alleviate the poverty and not simply support terrorism. Thus far the oil states have maintained the "Palestinian Refugee" in poverty as a political propaganda weapon against Israel. The UK is already expending aid to Moslem areas or countries such as Kosovo, Afghanistan and Iraq; it is time for the Saudis and others to participate fully.


  2.  "Ensure that Israel allows humanitarian access" It must be said that Israel's government has security as the priority. Once Israel realised that ambulances were being used for the transportation of weapons, then proper inspections have to be made at checkpoints, leading in turn to inconvenience or worse for the innocents. But it is no use using some UN resolution to condemn Israel, as they have no choice whilst there isn't full separation of the communities.

  2.3  "both Israel Left and Right now oppose the wall" This is totally misleading! It is the extremes from both camps only, whilst the middle majority crave separation. They would be quite happy to have the wall moved to the Barak/Arafat line if full agreement could be reached.

  2.5  The route of the Wall, by deviating from the Green Line the Wall has cut off communities: Again misleading. Wherever the Wall was placed would cut off some communities. The Green Line came into existence in 1948, since then the population of Jews and Arabs has swollen dramatically in this democratic State. Towns have expanded or been founded, villages have become towns and encroached either side of the Line. There are now almost six million people in this tiny country.

  3.2.1  "After Oslo, agreement on Israeli security meant that Israel controlled 82.8% of Palestinian Territory". This is such nonsense that I would recommend C. A. to look at their own map on the back of the report showing demography. Obviously Israel does not want to be in these areas, and they move back into specific "suspect" areas after an attack, but their area of control is fluid and at the moment reduced in line with attacks. We cannot begin to understand CA claims unless they elucidate on what possible statistics they are embracing to quote 82.8%


  3.  "International Law and its impartial application are the best guarantee of justice" Yes, but the key word is "impartial", one may as well wish for Santa Claus. There is no point in summarising with such gratuities.

The above report was a statement of the plight of Palestinians in the Disputed Territories. I would like to balance the report with some facts from the Israeli side:

  The Intifada intended to harm tourism and the Israel economy; this has succeeded. Social Welfare had to be slashed. Teachers have told me personally how their Junior School students have no books. They rely on charity to buy some pupils shoes; one teacher said that she is being constantly asked for food! (This in the "affluent" town of Zichron Yaakov). The recent General Strike was against the reduction in the already pitiful pensions and manpower reduction in the Public Sector. Hotels are empty and unemployment is high.

  I personally had a meeting with members of "Zakka", this is a voluntary organisation first established to pick up the pieces of bomb victims according to Jewish Law ready for burial.

  They use motor-cycles and frequently get to attack sites before the police and ambulances, they always have their pagers on night and day. They have proved so useful that they now train as paramedics to deal with the wounded if necessary. They need counselling after each attack. There have been 900 deaths in Israel due to "Shahids", proportionally equivalent to 9,000 deaths in the UK. It must be obvious that the public do not want a war but previous peace proposals have only increased the attacks from militants. Until the Palestinians give peace a chance and really accept a Jewish State (albeit tiny) no progress can be made. The militants have to be stopped and incitement to kill by their clerics curtailed.

November 2003

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