Memorandum submitted by the Israeli Citizens
This submission reviews the subjects identified
for review by the Select Committee.
A. Who we are
Israeli Citizens Action Network (ICAN) is an
apolitical volunteer organisation of retirees, including a significant
number of British ex-patriates, who are seriously concerned about
the increasing prevalence of unbalanced reporting and lack of
honest information concerning Israel and the Arab conflict.
We draw on the personal experience of members
from all walks of life including professionals, industrialists,
academics and blue-collar workers, who having lived in this region
for many years, are familiar with its history in a manner which
cannot be emulated by correspondents who have little previous
knowledge of the area.
We believe that the experience and expertise
of our members enable us to submit pertinent comments and recommendations
to the Select Committee and we welcome the opportunity to do so.
B. Development assistance and the Occupied
1. The effectiveness of aid from UK
and EU sources on Palestinian poverty levels, how it is targeted
and what could be done to prevent it from being wasted or destroyed.
Aid is channelled through many organisations
in the Palestinian areas. EU reports and IMF reports focus on
the mishandling of these funds, corruption and lack of transparency.
For aid to be effective there must be control
and accountability. We cannot expect a Palestinian society lacking
democratically elected institutions to be capable of making a
fair distribution according to universally accepted principles.
Therefore for aid to have some impact in that
it reaches those in most need, the donating body has to create
its own structure on that ground which can work with all elements
of the local population including the Israeli authorities. Of
course, these could be disbanded once there is a democratic local
The recent IMF report "Economic Performance
and Reforms under Conflict Conditions," states that $900
million cannot be accounted for in the period under review. Thus
it can hardly be claimed that the present methods are effective.
Apart from direct money transfers, aid in the
form of food and medical supplies has also not reached the people
for which it was intended. Correspondence found in captured documents
concerns the "diversion" of food products and medications
destined for Gaza Strip inhabitants to the Black Market. These
items are confiscated by the security apparatuses, which use them
for their own needs. Also according to the captured documents,
basic foodstuffs (flour, sardines, meat, milk and so on) distributed
by UNRWA to the inhabitants of refugee camps, find their way to
private businessmen who sell them on the Black Market. (See appendix
Recommend: Funds should be allocated to those
local Palestinian NGOs who have the most efficient and effective
means of alleviating poverty in the territories provided that
they can show there is clear accountability and transparency.
2. The impact on Palestinian trade,
employment and economic development of customs duties and taxes,
and controls on the movement of goods and people at Israeli ports
and airports and points of entry to the West Bank and Gaza.
If the word "impact" refers to the
present "Intifada", planned and started by the Palestinians
following their reneging on the "Oslo" process, then
surely the Palestinians should be asking themselves the above
The Palestinian economy was booming up to September
2000 with growth rates at the level of some of the South East
Asian tigers. According to an IMF report, "Economic Performance
and Reform under Conflict ConditionsSeptember 2003".
". . . the PA nevertheless achieved an
impressive turnaround in the current budget balance from a deficit
of 4% GDP to a surplus of 1% of GDP in 1999".
ANNUAL CHANGE IN GDP OF PALESTINIAN ECONOMY
|Source IMF report|
Up to three years ago there was a prosperous two way trade
between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. Constant terror
attacks have nullified the potential benefits.
Following constant abuse by Palestinian terrorists at the
crossing points, Israel has had to impose constraints to stop
the terror attacks.
If a war is declared by one side, they cannot then complain
if their stated enemy does not assist in their economic development.
Nevertheless, under the Paris accords as part of the Oslo Agreements,
taxes and duties are paid at the Israeli port of entry for all
goods destined for the Palestinian areas. These funds are later
released to the Palestinian Authority even though it was known
that some of this money furthered the terrorist activities.
Unfortunately, many Israeli companies were not paid for goods
and services such as electricity and telephone services that they
supplied to the Palestinians and they have therefore made claims
on the funds collected by the Israeli ports authorities in settlement
of their debt. In other words, if the Palestinians wish to develop
their economy they have to respect the normal conditions of commercial
practice so that they will be able to reap the benefits of free
Recommend:To finance the necessary infrastructure
in port facilities in the Palestinian areas to allow independence,
providing there are inspection guarantees to ensure these facilities
are not used for arming the Palestinians.
3. The impact of the wall of separation for Palestinian
farmers and for employment, movement of people and delivery of
The anti-terrorist barrier has an impact on both peoples.
The Israelis are just as upset about the need to erect this barrier
as the Palestinians are about the disruptions it causes to their
Israel has to consider the question; whether security is
more important than humanitarian assistance. Israel has a fundamental
right to defend her citizens and if weapons/terrorists are being
smuggled in, then there will be checkpoints and barriers.
Compensation matching the properties' value is provided for
the use of the land and any damage to trees and crops. In addition,
owners of agricultural land are also provided with compensation
for the full value of their crop yield for as long as the property
will need to be used
Further, as recent polls show, 62% of Palestinians continue
to support suicide attacks against Israeli civilians, according
to a new public opinion poll published on Thursday by the Jerusalem
Media and Communication Center (JMCC) and reported in the Daily
Edition7 November. Thus, much work must still be done
focusing on extremist elements within the PA influencing the Palestinian
people before we can once again enjoy the mutual benefit of friendly
cooperation in trade and employment
Official Israel estimates say that about 900 Israelis have
been killed by Palestinian terrorists since September 2000 of
whom 700 were civilians (see appendix B).
Many of the suicide bombers simply walked from their homes in
the Arafat-controlled West Bank into Israel. The fence is designed
to stop them.
A similar fence in the Gaza Strip, constructed under an Israeli-Palestinian
agreement of 1994, has been found to be very effective and has
ensured that almost no terrorists have succeeded in penetrating
into Israel. There is a human cost involved in restricting movements
but a fence kills no one. This is the consequence of the war declared
by the Palestinians
Recommend:As all residents have the opportunity to
file a petition directly with the Israeli Supreme Court to submit
objections, and in numerous cases, the authorities and the complainants
have reached mutual agreement regarding alterations of the path.
4. The control that the network of settlements in
the occupied territories have over the basic conditions for the
development of the Palestinian economy: agricultural land, water,
movement of persons and goods, environmental impacts.
The premise of the issue above assumes that the settlements
affect the development of the Palestinian economy. From 1967 through
the 70s and 80s the Palestinian economy thrived. It grew at a
faster rate than Israel and many of the Asian "tigers".
The downward trend in the Palestinian economy is not a great
as has been suggested. A report by the IMF states that "given
the extraordinary circumstances in the West Bank and Gaza, the
Palestinian economy has proved to be surprisingly resilient. By
early 2003, there were already signs that the downward trend had
been stopped and that the economy was beginning to stabilize."
"Since the beginning of the uprising in September 2000,
economic activity has fallen dramatically but, contrary to initial
impressions, the economy did not collapse", stated the report.
The IMF estimates that real gross domestic product growth (GDP)
fell by 15% in 2001 and by 14.5% in 2002. Unemployment was at
25.5% in 2001 and 31.3% in 2002. The IMF further acknowledges
that the economic relationship with Israel was "extremely
productive" for the Palestinians, and that they enjoyed prosperity
in the years that preceded the Intifada : so they were never "oppressed"
or "strangled" by Israel, and had no reason to despair
from the Peace Process and resort to terrorism, as some would
"By the second quarter of 2002, during the conflict's
most intense period, the number of Palestinians working in Israel
had fallen to only 33,000. But by the end of 2002, with some modest
easing of restrictions, this number had recovered slightly to
"Despite all the pressures and difficulties, more than
two thirds of the Palestinian labour force remain employed, the
banking system is still operating, and the Palestinian Authority
has continued to provide essential services in education and health
and pay the wages of its civil servants. And even while the restrictions
remain in place, there are signs that the economy has stabilised."
Strategic and security concerns together with the absence
of the Palestinian peace partner have left successive governments
no choice but to leave the major part of the settlement issue
until a partner is found for peace negotiations.
5. The accountability of Palestinian government institutions
and the technical capacities of the public and private sectors
to build an autonomous and viable economy.
This is part of the heart of the roadmap, which was promoted
by the UK and supported by the EU. There has been no progress
on this over the past year. Constant attempts to appoint a suitable
government to tackle this problem have failed. It has been reported
that even the latest government of Abu Ala (Queiri) has been met
with skepticism by many Palestinians since the corrupt officials
have maintained their hold on ministerial positions and, of course,
Arafat is in charge of all security services.
Every attempt by the Israeli government to find ways to better
the lot of the Palestinian people has been met with violent opposition
by the Palestinian terrorist infrastructure. The industrial zones
in Atarot, close to Ramallah and a similar zone close to the Gaza
strip were intended to provide work and prosperity to the people
of those areas. Mayhem and bloodshed resulted in business after
business closing down and less and less opportunities for work
for the Palestinians.
Steph Wertheimer, the well known Israeli entrepreneur, set
up his highly successful industrial park in Tefen in the north
of Israel and the model is now being copied in Turkey. He has
stated his desire to develop this style of industrial/entrepreneurial
park to help the Palestinians (and incidentally also the Jordanians)
when peace makes this possible.
Positive growth and a viable economy will be the rewards
of the Palestinian population when they will eventually be guided
by leaders who emphasize and promote nation building and peaceful
coexistence. When the Palestinian people are lead away from a
culture of death and destruction, and encouraged to work for excellence
and achievement, private initiatives and foreign investment can
flourish. Israel will be the first in line to offer cooperative
business ventures, renewing old contacts and forging new ones.
The opportunities for rapid advancement of the Palestinian
economy exist; the Palestinians have to rescind violence to achieve
6. The role of civil society, including NGOs, in ensuring
a broad popular participation in the development of Palestinian
As stated in issue 1 above, funds should be allocated to
those local Palestinian NGOs who have the most efficient and effective
means of alleviating poverty in the territories provided that
they can show there is clear accountability and transparency.
Together with that, not all NGO's have a helpful agenda.
Some charities who give aid to the Palestinian people are also
very active politically, and unfortunately are not promoting peaceful
negotiations and settlement to the conflict. This kind of involvement
with Palestinian society only prolongs the conflict, and creates
a continuous need for charitable assistance.
7. Priorities for UK aid through bilateral and multilateral
channels to strengthen the infrastructure of Palestinian development.
There are a number of local NGO's who have the populations
total interest at heart and are less involved with politics. These
organizations should be identified and supported with funds but
under tight monetary control.
8. The role of aid in supporting political solutions to
The economic plight of many of the Palestinians in the disputed
territories is caused by the continued actions of the terrorists
and the continual incitement of hate of the general population
and of children in particular through the Palestinian education
Many examples abound of the incitement of children through
their text books. Arabic Language for Fifth Grade No 542
pp 64-66 cites ". . . Palestine is your country . . . its
pure soil is drenched with the blood of martyrs . . . we must
fight the Jews and drive them out of our land".
Islamic Education for Seventh Grade No 564 pp125 quotes
"This religion will defeat all other religions and it will
be disseminated, by Allah's will through the Muslim Jihad fighters".
RecommendTo focus aid in the educational field and
to ensure that the curriculum and text books are geared to peace
and not to incitement to war.
9. Future development needs of a Palestinian state and
the potential for its economic cooperation with Israel.
Any state needs to meet criteria set by the nations of the
world in its treatment of its people and its neighbours.
A Palestinian state needs to be:
(a) PluralisticIsraelis cannot enter Palestinian
areas for fear of their lives.
(b) Democraticaccept the views of others. Christian/Jewish
(c) Open to all religions (not just protect them as dhimmi
status in Arab countries).
(d) There are no Synagogues in the Palestinian areas
and desecration of Jewish holy sites continues eg Joseph's tomb,
synagogues in West Bank (Efrat).
(e) Open to women's rightswomen coerced to become
(f) Protect children's rightsChildren are abused
twice in terms of accepted world standards. They are encouraged/forced
to take part in political/violent demonstrations and given politicized
educational material, not being allowing to see all points of
view. Both are against the Geneva Convention.
The way forward is to encourage and help the PA meet the
primary conditions of the roadmap, ie, abandoning verbal and physical
violence. Everything will flow from this. The Israeli Prime Minister
has said that Israel is prepared to make hard concessions, providing
there is a Palestinian body ready to talk to it peacefully and
Full details available on http://www.intelligence.org.il/eng/bu/theft/theft.htm.
Appendix A not printed. Copy placed in the Library. Back
Not printed. Copy placed in the Library. Back