Select Committee on International Development Written Evidence

Memorandum submitted by Leonie Nimmo, BA (Hons) Development Studies with Economics—spent three weeks in the West Bank and Jerusalem in November 2002


  The following submittal includes an assessment of the effectiveness of aid in the occupied territories and the problems related to administering it; the impact of Israeli controls of the movement of goods and people entering and leaving the West Bank and Gaza; the impact of the wall of separation, particularly with regard to land, population movements and employment, and the control that the network of settlements exercises over the occupied Palestinian territories. Finally, food aid and rebuilding people's capacity to access food is argued to be of top priority for donors of development assistance. The entitlement approach to poverty and famines is used to support this hypothesis.

An Analysis of 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.

  1.  It is likely that the effect of UK and EU aid on Palestinian poverty levels will be marginal due to the numerous factors that are forcing people further and further into poverty, for example, curfews, road closures, curtailment of productive activity and the destruction of productive enterprises. These policies have led to severe structural underdevelopment in the Palestinian territories. It would seem logical that the deteriorating economic situation of the Palestinian population can only be reversed if these causes are tackled directly. Aid may help to alleviate poverty in the short term and on a small scale, but the overall poverty levels will continue to deteriorate if these conditions continue and worsen. The UK and the EU have the capacity to exert political pressure on the Israeli government in an attempt to "treat the cause not the symptom", but the ability of aid to tackle Palestinian poverty is limited.

  2.  The objectives of aid must be clearly defined in order to render it effective or otherwise. Relief aid needs to be differentiated from medium to long term development assistance aimed at rebuilding the capacity for development. Due to the continuation of Israeli policies that result in underdevelopment, it is likely that the former will be more able to meet its objectives than the latter.

  3.  Donor countries may not be in a position to stop development assistance being wasted and destroyed as a result of the direct or indirect interference of the occupying forces. For example, the Japanese government agreed to pay for the re-construction of the road between Jerusalem and Ramallah, but the Israeli government refused planning permission to rebuild it and it remains in a very poor condition[118]. There have been countless cases of destruction of infrastructure—at times funded through development assistance—including newly constructed groundwater wells. Things are often reconstructed only to be repeatedly destroyed, for example, the electricity cables in and around Nablus[119]. There is very little donor countries can do to prevent such destruction, apart from exerting political pressure on the Israeli government.

  4.  Humanitarian organisations working in the West Bank and Gaza have found that a large amount of time is spent negotiating with the occupying Israeli army and officials within the Civil Administration. This involves huge resource expenditure and often prolonged negotiations will lead nowhere. Again, little can be done to prevent this from happening—it is not a recent policy. It illustrates the fact that attempts made to advance the development of the Palestinian economy and infrastructure have been repeatedly blocked by the Israeli government and security forces. This is as applicable to aid organisations as it is to Palestinians.

  5.  It is necessary for donor organisations to fully understand the process of structural underdevelopment that has occurred since 1967. Without adequate analysis of the history of the occupation, coupled with a certain amount of prediction about what is likely to happen to the Palestinian population in the short, medium and long term, donor organisations cannot hope to be effective. This is partly because they will have to recognise the restrictions imposed by the occupying forces on their own ability to operate, in the same way that the freedom of the Palestinian population is heavily restricted. The ability of donor organisations to assess what is needed, set realistic objectives and plan effectively will depend on their understanding of life "in the field". This will in turn determine the effectiveness of aid.

  6.  In order to target aid effectively it is essential that local knowledge about what is needed and the people most in need is sought, listened to and utilised. Due to the extreme conditions experienced by the Palestinian population for an extended amount of time there are already strong support networks in place which should be accessed by donor organisations. Palestine is a small area (and shrinking daily) which should mean that this is not an insurmountable task. Donors should be aware of the fact that Hamas is one of the few organisations providing humanitarian assistance in Gaza and as such will be in the best position to offer information about the neediest people. However, political difficulties may arise if Israel is aware of donor organisations working with individuals who have links with Hamas, regardless of whether they are associated with its military wing or not.

  7.  There are a number of Palestinian and international organisations working throughout the West Bank. These Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) have extensive knowledge of the local situations. Perhaps an effective way of delivering aid would be through the most efficient and effective of these organisations. For example, the Palestinian Environmental Non-Governmental Organisations Network (PENGON) has been attempting to set up emergency centres along the length of the first phase of the separation wall and provide legal support for people displaced. It is desperately short of funds. Assisting such an organisation would be of great help to local Palestinian people.

  8.  In order to prevent the wastage of aid by Palestinian recipients - if it can be got to them—it is necessary to ensure that it is received and distributed by organizations or individuals who are trustworthy and trusted by local people. Again, local knowledge will be important, but again, dealings with local people who are in a position to offer help may jeopardise the standing of aid donors in Israel. It may also have implications for the personal safety of the Palestinians involved.

  9.  Full transparency and accountability should be aimed for, but restrictions on personal freedom and the risks that the Palestinian people face as a result of carrying out any activity whatsoever may mean that this is difficult.

  10.  It is essential that the result of an inquiry into development assistance in the occupied Palestinian territories includes the recognition that the situation in Palestine is not in stasis. Conditions have deteriorated dramatically in the last two years and look likely to continue to do so. The ability of development assistance to have any impact at all will depend entirely on the extent to which the Israeli government and military allow donor organisations to operate and projects carried out by them to be completed and/or remain standing. Attempts at development instigated by Palestinian people are subject to the same conditions.

  11.  In an attempt to gage the quantity of aid likely to be needed to avoid a humanitarian disaster in the occupied Palestinian territories it is necessary to consider the quantity of money that is being used by the Israeli state that looks set to lead to such a disaster. Countering the effects of the military occupation, the separation wall, the construction of settlements and infrastructure being built to support them is a huge task and one that will need a large amount of money.

An Assessment of 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.

  12.  Since 1967 the permit system established by the Israeli government to control the movement of goods from the Palestinian territories to Israel has had a crippling effect on the Palestinian economy. This has affected trade, employment and long term economic development. Israel has also exercised control over goods moving into and out of neighbouring Arab nations. These issues cannot be viewed in isolation from the lack of restrictions of (often heavily subsidised) Israeli imports into the Palestinian territories; the extensive controls exercised on the movement of goods throughout the Palestinian territories; controls which govern what agricultural products are allowed to be grown in the West Bank and Gaza and regulations about the amount of land allowed to be cultivated and irrigated in these areas.

  13.  Military Order No. 47, effective from July 1967, prohibited the movement into or out of the West Bank of plants, animals, or products made out of them (except for canned goods) without a permit. Amendments to this order allowed authorities to specify the route of transport and for stop and search. Penalties for non-compliance included confiscation of the goods.

  14.  From September 1988, Military Order No. 1252 replaced No. 47. This allowed the authorities to "broadly regulate the shipment of all merchandise . . . all of the restrictions in the previous military orders were retained under the authority to specify in the permit any conditions of transport. Thus, variance from the permit of cargo, route, or date of transportation (could) be considered a violation. Potential penalties include(d) fines and the possibility of a five-year prison sentence for non-compliance"[120]

  15.  With curfews, roadblocks, checkpoints and area closures a common feature of the occupation, the rigidity of the permit system poses a huge problem for Palestinian farmers and traders. The potential losses and risks involved increases the cost of exporting goods substantially.

  16.  According to Drury and Winn, produce is generally "only allowed into Israel if such permission serves Israeli interests, such as filling gaps in Israeli domestic production, while imports of products which would pose competition to Israeli producers are not permitted"[121]. Israeli exports to the occupied territories are subject to no restrictions or taxes. Furthermore, the restrictions in place about what and how much produce can be grown in the occupied territories has at times necessitated Israeli imports, for example, of potatoes[122].

  17.  In May 1989, Israel prohibited all agricultural exports from the West Bank into Israel. Palestine, as a largely agricultural economy, suffered huge losses as a result, particularly as agricultural development in the West Bank since 1967 was orientated towards the Israeli market.

  18.   Restrictions are also placed on the cross-border transportation of goods into Jordan. In 1992, Drury and Winn wrote that "only a limited number of trucks, which have been in use since before 1967, are allowed to make the trip. The trucks are entirely stripped down so as to facilitate security checks; each gas tank must have five glass panels. The truck driver must return the same day or else he is forced to wait while the truck is dismantled for inspection, then reassembled; this process can take from three to five days . . . The driver must negotiate a wide range of bureaucratic hurdles . . . For instance, he needs an expensive series of permits from the Civil Administration to cross the border . . . (he) must register his name in approximately twenty different offices of the Civil Administration . . . It takes up to three years to get initial approval for the driver, subsequently, the whole process can take from one day to one week"[123].

  19.  Bureaucratic procedures imposed by the Jordanian government exacerbate this situation.

  20.  There are often delays at border crossings, such as Allenby Bridge; possible border closures, and the real possibility of being turned back at the border even if all the paperwork and documentation is correct. This is particularly damaging for perishable goods being transported in unrefrigerated trucks.

  21.  The inflated costs and risks involved in exporting goods to Jordan are borne by the people transporting the goods. Price increases that result from the difficulty of exporting produce act effectively as an export tax - Palestinian goods for sale in the markets in Jordan will not be priced competitively with the local produce. This situation is further exacerbated by the fact that the trucks must return the same day. Buyers in the Jordanian markets assume that if produce is not sold directly from trucks it is not fresh[124].

  22.  Inconsistent supply of Palestinian goods in Jordan leads to further contractions in demand.

  23.  Israeli control over Palestinian exports both to Israel and Jordan has severely restricted Palestinian trade. Together with other policies relating to agriculture and the movement of goods the result has been structural underdevelopment of the Palestinian economy. The Palestinian economy has developed only as a satellite of the Israeli economy; growth has been allowed to take place within the boundaries set by Israel, and at times, particularly during the first intifada and since September 2002, not at all. Palestinians have been unable to pursue economic development in areas where they have a comparative advantage, notably labour intensive agricultural industries.

  24.  Since 1967, the trade balance between Israel and the occupied territories has swung massively in favour of Israel. In 1987 the trade surplus in Israel's favour reached US$802 million[125].

  25.  Employment has contracted as a direct result of Israeli controls in many sectors: agricultural labour, the trade of agricultural inputs, the trade of agricultural produce, the transport industry etc. Subsequent economic contraction has lead to further unemployment.

  26.  The economic effect of the control of people between Israel and the occupied territories has been most acutely felt with regard to Palestinian citizens working inside Israel. During the initial years of the occupation, Israel allowed almost free movement of people across the green line to make use of the cheap casual labour force. This resulted in economic dependence on wage remittances: prior to the first intifada, 30% of the West Bank labour force was employed in Israel[126] and the wages bought back to the occupied territories accounted for approximately 35% of GNP[127].

  27.  Such a large and accessible labour market in Israel drew many farmers and their employees away from their land in the occupied territories. The result was shortages of labour in the West Bank and large tracts of previously cultivated land left fallow[128]. This left land open to confiscation by Israel.

  28.  As far as I am aware, the Israeli government no longer allows Palestinian citizens to work in Israel, and they face substantial danger if they attempt to do so. In an address given to a meeting in Manchester, UK, in 2002, an Israel army refusenik described the moment he decided to refuse to serve in the occupied territories: Having spent a number of months at a Gaza checkpoint detaining Palestinians who attempted to cross into Israel to work, the order came through from his superiors to shoot these people instead. This major shift in Israeli policy has obviously contributed massively to unemployment in the occupied territories, which has in turn lead to a large contraction in the Palestinian economy.

An Assessment of the Impact of the Wall of Separation for Palestinian Farmers and for Employment, Movement of People and Delivery of Humanitarian Assistance.

  29.  It is difficult to assess exactly the magnitude of the impact of the separation wall on Palestinian farmers because it is not known exactly where the wall will be built and consequently how many farmers it will (directly) affect. The plans initially released about the first phase of the wall, stretching roughly 350 kilometres and annexing the most fertile 10% of the West Bank, have been subject to considerable changes. The route of the wall has been changed to include Israeli settlements on the Israeli side of the wall and further decrease the amount of territory on the Palestinian side. According to a number of human rights organisations—the Palestinian Environmental Non-Governmental Organisation Network (PENGON) and Gush Shalom amongst others—the construction of walls by the Israeli government will not stop here. It looks almost certain that the Israeli state aims to annex a significant section of the eastern West Bank. Maps released by these organisations indicate that the West Bank will be broken into two or more unconnected territories (see fig 1). Ultimately it would seem likely that the entire land of the West Bank will be fragmented into separate "Bantustans". The Israeli military controlled zones that currently exist around each Palestinian village, town and city will be physically enforced by an extensive series of walls that will render each Palestinian settlement accessible only through one or more military checkpoints.

30.  Figure 1:



  31.  The farmers that will be affected by the first phase of the first phase of the wall could be broken into three categories: those whose land falls between the separation wall and the green line; those whose village or town is near to the site of the wall and the rest of the farmers in Palestine.

  32.  The majority of people living in the area between the wall and the 1967 border with Israel are either farmers or employed in agriculture, as it was a largely agricultural area. Approximately fifteen villages are in the area that the initial 115 kilometres of wall will annex[129]. It will be impossible for these farmers to continue to live in this area. They are likely to lose their land; their crops; their homes; access to any civil amenities that previously existed and their income. They are likely to also lose all or most of their livestock and the support systems that were previously in place to tide people over times of financial hardship and emotional difficulties, for example, extended family and informal networks of social support. These farmers will be forced to become refugees. It is as yet unclear what will happen to them and where they will attempt to move to.

  33.  There are a number of possibilities for these displaced people. They may move within the West Bank, in which case they are likely to move to refugee camps in Palestinian cities. This will lead to increased population density in what are already over-crowded areas. Conditions are subsequently likely to deteriorate. Access to food, water, housing and sanitary facilities will become more difficult for the people already living there and especially difficult for those moving there. If the occupying army continues their policy of demolition of houses, shops, water and sanitation facilities the problems will become further exacerbated. Cities within the West Bank will become more like Gaza.

  34.  Farmers directly displaced by the wall may also move to rural areas within the West Bank or to neighbouring Arab countries. It will be very difficult for them to find new sources of income in these places, particularly in their previous occupation, as access to land for cultivation is restricted. If they move outside of the Palestinian territories it is unclear whether host nations will provide for them or attempt to deport them.

  35.  Farmers whose village or town is on or near the construction site of the wall could be further categorised according to how far away from the wall an individual has land or property, and the shape of the wall around their town or village. The wall might surround the town completely with one checkpoint in and out, or it pass alongside their village cutting it off from land and water sources. The scale of loss will vary according to such factors and consequently the impact of the wall on different groups of farmers will be different. A number of villages will lose their only source of water[130]. The village of Jayyous, close to Qualquila, will lose 20,000 olive trees, 50,000 citrus trees, 250 green houses, seven water sources and two water reservoirs[131].

  36.  If a farmer suffers such a degree of loss that he is unable to survive where he currently lives, and the degree of resource loss in his community is such that support mechanisms in place to care for people who can no longer provide for themselves have broken down, he will have little option but to move to somewhere he believes that his chances of survival are greater. In this way demographic movements will result from the construction of the wall even if an individual's home has not fallen on the wrong side of the wall.

  37.  Living close to the wall will have a massive impact on people's quality of life. In Jayyous, since the wall began to be constructed, Israeli military presence has increased substantially. Curfew is strictly imposed. There have been a number of reports of collective punishment as a result of demonstrations that have taken place against the wall[132].

  38.  The armed watch towers, military patrols, cameras and electronic sensors that are to accompany the wall will result in a climate of fear. If people, including farmers, are not prepared to live in such a way there will be further population movements.

  39.  Around Qualquila, the main urban centre in the north west of the West Bank, the wall has already been constructed. It completely encircles the city, with one check point in and out. The agricultural land that supports the city falls outside of the wall. Agricultural land that falls within the city has been polluted. Farmers have consequently lost their main source of income. According to recent reports there has been a large exodus of people from the city[133].

  40.  As well as the farmers living close to the wall itself, every Palestinian living in the West Bank will be affected by the construction of the wall. There are a number of ways that this impact will be felt. Changes in the prices of agricultural produce are inevitable due to the importance of the region as a source of agricultural products. A huge portion of the West Bank's food came from this area. The supply of food will decrease and consequently prices will rise.

  41.  It may be more difficult for farmers throughout the West Bank to access agricultural inputs such as grains and fertilisers if the markets for these things are fragmented as a result of the construction of the wall.

  42.  Around half of the water in the West Bank comes from the area where the initial phase of the wall is being constructed. Water supplies throughout the West Bank will therefore become scarcer. This is likely to mean that farmers elsewhere are unable to irrigate their land and suffer crop failure as a result.

  43.  The influx of displaced people into the rest of the West Bank will result in a higher demand for land which is likely to lead to a higher price for land, although the complexity of the land market—or lack of—in the occupied territories means that it is difficult to make assumptions based on standard economic principles.

  44.  The impact of the separation wall on employment will again be geographically differentiated. Some jobs will be created in both destruction and construction, as it is likely that some Palestinians will be employed to demolish existing land, buildings and infrastructure, whilst others will be employed in the construction of the wall itself. This is likely to be very casual and insecure employment, and by its nature will be short term.

  45.  Agricultural employment in the area between the wall and the 1967 border will be reduced dramatically. The Israeli government has stated that farmers who own land in this area will be allowed to access that land to farm it. However, for most farmers this will mean walking for long distances to reach gates in the wall, and, once through, walking to their land. Whether they get through the gates or not will be the decision of the military personnel on the gate. There will be some risk associated with approaching the personnel. Labour hours will be lost both in getting to the gate, waiting at the gate and then getting to the land on the other side. It is as yet unclear how many gates will be built and how difficult it will be to get through them. The fact that Qualquila has one entrance gives some indication that the gates will be few and far between.

  46.  Agricultural employment in villages and towns along the length of the wall will also be dramatically reduced. The pattern of construction is such that the wall typically cuts off villages and towns from surrounding land. With less land to cultivate there will be less agricultural employment.

  47.  Employment generated through the transportation and trading of agricultural produce that originated from the area of the wall will also be negatively affected. This will be felt in towns such as Nablus, where a significant quantity of food sold in the markets was grown in the area where the wall is being constructed.

  48.  Employment generated through the trading and transportation of agricultural inputs for the area will be reduced.

  49.  A general curtailment of activity will result in many other people losing their jobs, for example, taxi drivers, shop owners and workers, emergency service employees, doctor and teachers.

  50.  The impact of the wall on the movement of people will be extensive. To move through the wall—between the West Bank and the 1967 border—will be very difficult.

  51.  The extent to which a network of walls is constructed will determine the extent to which the movement of people throughout the West Bank is affected. Reports indicate that this is likely to be the case. Around Qualquila, the main wall has been complemented by a series of walls (see fig 2)[134]. It will become very, very difficult for Palestinians and international organisations working with Palestinians to move around. It is already difficult for Palestinians to move around the West Bank. Trade, employment and family and social networks will all be negatively affected.

  52.  It will also become much more difficult to deliver humanitarian assistance into the occupied territories. The ability of donor organisations to do so will be dependent on whether the military commanders at points of entry into the West Bank will allow it. They will consequently have control over where aid is able to get. The Israeli occupying forces will direct aid as they chose. Large amounts of resources will be lost waiting at entry points, negotiating with soldiers and going a much further distance as a result of the wall/s.

An assessment of 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 impact

  53.  The network of settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories have a considerable amount of direct control and also a degree of indirect control over the basic conditions of the development of the Palestinian economy. It is important to recognise that not only are many of the settlements heavily armed, and "civilians" within those settlements fully prepared to use those arms, but there are also military bases, police stations and private security stations based in those settlements. Settlements are therefore a crucial element of the mechanisms of control used by the Israeli occupying forces in Palestine. Furthermore, the settlers themselves have a certain degree of control over the actions of the security forces. Soldiers, police, military police and private security are likely to act in accordance with the wishes of the settlers.

  54.  Settlements exercise control over not only the agricultural land on which they are based—and this area is likely to steadily increase through expropriation—but a large radius of land around those settlements. For example, Palestinians from the village of Roujeeb on the outskirts of Nablus own a large area of olive groves some distance from the village itself. Their groves are closer to the settlement of Itamar than to Roujeeb. When they attempt to access their land they are stopped about four or five kilometres away from Itamar by soldiers. Sometimes the soldiers will tell them that they are not allowed to go any closer. Other times they will just shoot[135]. During negotiations with soldiers Palestinians are often told that the areas around settlements are military controlled zones and they must therefore leave. The correct paperwork to support such a claim is rarely produced[136].

  55.  It would be very difficult to establish exactly how much agricultural land in the West Bank is rendered "out of bounds" in this way. A tiny fraction of the total number of olive trees in the West Bank were harvested last year, and this policy was instrumental in achieving this outcome. Furthermore, an old Ottoman land law re-invented by Israel states that if land is not harvested for two years it can be appropriated by the state. This means that if people are not able to access their land for prolonged amounts of time they risk it being confiscated.

  56.  Large areas of agricultural land throughout the West Bank are being destroyed for the construction of settler roads. Palestinians are not able to travel on these roads. They are given no compensation for the land that is taken in order to build them. It seems that these roads are likely to have fences or walls built alongside them, which will widen the area of land that is destroyed[137]. Security zones are also enforced along roads so that even more land is inaccessible for Palestinians.

  57.  The land directly controlled by settlements, the land on which they are constructed, tends to be on the top of hills. Most of the hills surrounding Nablus have a settlement on top. This is strategically important territory. Once established, settlements will expand without any actual purchase of land taking place. In an assessment of land control by settlers in the occupied territories, the potential for such control must also be addressed, if territory can be taken in such a way.

  58.  Large areas of Palestinian land, particularly olive groves, are burned by the inhabitants of settlements. For example, the olive groves belonging to the village of Quafur Qualil, on the outskirts of Nablus[138]. In this way control over land is exercised by settlers through rendering it useless.

  59.  Settlements have had a devastating impact on Palestinian's ability to access clean water. Settlements often build deep groundwater wells (three to five hundred meters deep) which results in the nearby shallower wells belonging to the Palestinians (generally not more than one hundred meters deep) drying up or salinating. This renders land belonging to Palestinian farmers either useless for agriculture or cultivable only for saline-resistant crops. Palestinians have been unable to obtain permits to deepen their wells to compensate for the loss of water[139].

  60.  There have been reports of the waste water from settlements polluting the fresh water sources belonging to Palestinian villages[140]. This not only leads to restrictions in access to clean water, but increased likelihood of the spread of disease.

  61.  The movement of goods and people throughout the occupied territories is restricted heavily by the army. The settlements themselves exert an influence over the army and their actions with regard to Palestinians. Often the two will work in conjunction. It is not unusual to see a settler at a military checkpoint, checking the papers of the Palestinians attempting to pass through[141]. It is equally not unusual to hear of settlers firing weapons at people that they do not believe should be in a certain area at a certain time, regardless of whether the army are in the area or not. This happened repeatedly during the olive harvest and is also a frequent occurrence around more volatile settlements[142]. Settlements are paramilitary communities and their occupants often erratic in their behaviour. Much of the control exercised by them is through a culture of fear: they are dangerous.

  62.  Perhaps the most negative environmental impact of settlements is due to the destruction of land in order to build them and the roads that connect them. As already noted, land is also destroyed by settlers for reasons not related to construction.

  63.  Control of settlements over land that is not used or utilised by them means that it is difficult for Palestinians to tend to this land. Whilst olive groves do not require irrigation, the land upon which they are planted does require some care, such as weeding and the construction and maintenance of terraces. The restricted ability of Palestinians to access land in order to tend to it has a comparatively limited environmental impact, nevertheless it is significant for the farmers themselves.

  64.  Waste from the settlements has a negative environmental impact, particularly as it is often not managed with maintenance of the local environment in mind. In fact, it has been used at times in order to deliberately pollute the Palestinian areas. This applies to human waste as well as waste generated by construction, and litter more generally. Litter generated by artillery used by the settlers is never picked up, except by Palestinian children.

An assessment of the priorities for UK aid through bilateral and multilateral channels to strengthen the infrastructure of Palestinian development

  65.  Food aid and rebuilding people's capacity to access food will become a priority for donors of development assistance in the occupied Palestinian territories. The entitlement approach to the study of poverty and famines will here be used to provide a framework of analysis of the food security situation in Palestine. This is the dominant paradigm used by aid agencies and donors who work in the field of famine prediction, prevention and relief. Food entitlement, ie "the ability of people to command food through the legal means available in the society" (Sen, 1981, p 45) is taken to be an essential prerequisite for economic and social development. In order to strengthen the infrastructure of Palestinian development, food security will have to be top of the agenda for donor organisations. The degree to which people's food entitlements have broken down and the many ways in which this has occurred will here be analysed.

  66.  According to the entitlement model, an individual's ability to access food depends on their endowments—the commodities they own, for example, land, labour power and their possessions—and the possible commodities that they are entitled to access as a result of their initial endowments. This is dependent on their production and trade possibilities and the social security and taxation systems that operate within their society. Direct entitlement failures occur if one is unable to continue to grow enough food for one's own consumption. Trade entitlement failures occur if one can obtain less food through the process of exchanging one's endowments for food. For example, an individual who sells their labour to earn an income in order to buy food will suffer an endowment loss and subsequent entitlement failure if they become unemployed and are unable to secure an alternative source of income with which to purchase food, such as state benefits. In this way, changes in individuals' endowments will affect their food entitlements. Changes in relative prices, the labour market and the supply and demand of commodities are examples of things that will affect the trade entitlements of different groups within a society. The legal, political, economic and social characteristics of a society, and the position of an individual within that society, will affect their exchange entitlements.

  67.  Since 1967 the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza has had a severe impact on the endowments and entitlement possibilities for the Palestinian population. The absence of legal protection for Palestinians has further exacerbated these problems.

  68.  Large scale land confiscations; the destruction of crops; the pollution of land by settlements and Israeli toxic waste and difficulties in accessing land due to the dangers resulting from living under occupation and the spread of settlements have led to extensive endowment loss and subsequent entitlement failures in the occupied territories.

  69.  Direct entitlement failures have occurred when people have been unable to grow food for their own consumption on their own land. Most arable land in Palestine is cultivated for sale in internal or external markets, hence direct entitlement failures represent a minor fraction of total entitlement loss. The "victory gardens" scheme was a small scale, self help project which aimed to bring more land into cultivation in smallholder plots, particularly in urban areas. Some of this produce was to be sold and some consumed directly. Israeli response to this scheme was to shut it down, through the destruction of the plots and intimidation, deportation or imprisonment of the people involved in organising them[143]. In this instance direct entitlement failure has not occurred as people did not previously gain their access to food in this way, but the ability of the Palestinian population to gain food entitlements directly has been restricted, and a potential mechanism of development was curtailed.

  70.  Decreases in the aggregate supply of food as a result of loss of land and loss of access to land leads to increases in the price of food, which affects the food entitlements of the entire Palestinian population. If the price of food goes up, less food can be bought for the same amount of money. The construction of the separation wall will have a potentially devastating effect on the supply and price of food and consequently Palestinian people's food entitlements.

  71.  The rigid system of permits which has controlled the movement of goods within and out of the occupied territories has led to the loss of produce, which is an endowment loss for the people who owned the produce.

  72.  Severely restricted access to water has led to direct entitlement failures, endowment losses and trade entitlement losses.

  73.  The impact of the occupation on the labour market has been extensive, particularly since April 2001, when most Palestinian towns were placed under 24-hour curfew. A curfew effectively imposed brings unemployment to 100%. The impact on food entitlements cannot be overestimated: for many Palestinians, particularly those living in refugee camps, their labour is the only endowment that they own. If they cannot use this to access food they may face starvation.

  74.  Checkpoints, roadblocks and area closures also affect the ability of the Palestinian population to access food through the sale of their labour power. It is not unusual for Palestinians to wait for an entire day at a checkpoint.

  75.  Restriction in trade as a result of checkpoints leads to loss of income for producers, traders and transporters, which again may lead to entitlement failures.

  76.  Increased levels of unemployment as a result of restricted access to land, Israeli labour markets and the controls over the movement of goods within the occupied territories will also affect the entitlement possibilities of large sections of the population.

  77.  The restriction of exports has led to further unemployment both within the farming community and the sectors that support it such as transport and the trade in inputs and produce.

  78.  The industrial sector has been targeted by the occupying Israeli forces: factories and shops have been destroyed. Furthermore, permission to rebuild this economic infrastructure is rarely granted, preventing the re-creation of jobs in both the construction industry and the original forms of employment.

  79.  Potential employment and economic development resulting from an agro-industrial sector has been severely restricted. Business ventures are required to obtain permits from the Civil Administration in order to operate. The permit requirement has been an "almost impermeable barrier to many potentially viable agro-industrial projects"[144]. Aid organisations and donor countries have also found that projects they are willing to fund are not permitted by Israel. Businesses willing to invest in the occupied territories have been put off by the constraints of the permit system and the insecurity of their investments - unendorsed projects are likely to be destroyed even on as small a scale as animal enclosures, and those that have been licensed are not immune from the destructive capabilities of the Israeli military.

  80.   Case study: Roujeeb[145]. The village of Roujeeb lies about three kilometres away from Nablus in the West Bank. Before September 2000, the two major sources of income for the village were the olive harvest and the sale of dairy produce in Nablus. Since September 2000, the occupants of the village have been unable to harvest the vast majority of their olive trees due to the dangers imposed by soldiers and settlers. It has also been exceptionally difficult for them to transport dairy produce into Nablus, as the road between Roujeeb and Nablus has been acquired by the Israeli military and Palestinians are no longer permitted to travel along it. Animal feed and other agricultural inputs are difficult to attain, as both the village and Nablus itself have been under curfew for most of the last two and a half years. The third main source of income for the village is employment in Nablus, but the military occupation has again rendered this both difficult and dangerous. Roujeeb was once a prosperous place: the houses are spacious and people educated. In November 2002, some of the inhabitants had begun to sell off their possessions in order to purchase food.

  81.  Studies have shown that when large sectors of a population sell off their possessions in order to buy food, a famine is not far off unless there is substantial outside intervention.

  82.  It seems highly likely that emergency food aid will become a priority for donors of development assistance operating in the occupied territories. There are already reports of people dying of starvation and increasing numbers of people showing signs of malnutrition. Emergency food aid is usually distributed through multinational channels—organisations with experience in dealing with such events.

  83.  Knowledge of people's food entitlements is essential for the prediction, prevention and relief of famines. Research in this field should therefore be a top priority for donors of development assistance now.

  84.  In the longer term, the priority of aid donors will be helping people to find sustainable access to food themselves. Unless there is knowledge of the ways in which food entitlements have broken down in the first place, this task will be not be completed effectively.

  85.  Aid donors also need to prioritise relief work along the length of the separation wall as communities here have suffered extensive endowment losses and entitlement failures. It is unclear how much long term developmental work should be done here as the population movement that the wall precipitates may be complete.

  86.  Working with children and community groups in the refugee camps in the Palestinian cities should be a priority for aid donors. This should entail short term relief work and long term capacity building work.

  87.  Resources should be channelled through organisations such as the Red Crescent, whose employees work under extreme conditions to provide an absolutely crucial emergency service.

September 2003


  Abed, G "The Economic Viability of a Palestinian State," 19(2) Journal of Palestine Studies 8 (Winter 1990).

  Drury, R T, and Winn, R C "Ploughshares and Swords: The Economics of Occupation in the West Bank" Massachusetts: Beacon Press, 1992.

  Palestinian Environmental Non-Governmental Organisations Network The Apartheid Wall Report No 1 November 2002.

  Rouhana, K "The Other Intifada: The Crucial Economic War Heats Up" 250 (1) The Nation, January 1990.

  Senn, A K "Poverty and Famines: An Essay on Entitlements and Deprivation" Oxford: University Press, 1981.

118   Interview with an American humanitarian worker in Jerusalem, 3 November 2002. Back

119   Interview with a Palestinian construction engineer in Roujeeb, 6 November 2002. Back

120   Drury and Winn, 1992, p 35. Back

121   Drury and Winn, 1992, p 36. Back

122   Interview with Department of Agriculture officers, I Matar and S Hillele, Jenin office (20 August 1989). Cited in Drury and Winn, 1992, p 34. Back

123   1992, p 37. Back

124   Drury and Winn, 1992, p 38. Back

125   Kate Rouhana, "The Other Intifada: The Crucial Economic War Heats Up" The Nation, 1 January 1990, p 1. Cited in Drury and Winn, 1992, p 17. Back

126   Rouhana. Cited in Drury and Winn, 1992, p 18. Back

127   George Abed, "The Economic Viability of a Palestinian State," 19(2) Journal of Palestine Studies 8 (Winter 1990). Cited in Drury and Winn, 1992, p 18. The number of workers does not include those that work illegally within the green line. Back

128   Drury and Winn, 1992, p 18. Back

129   The Apartheid Wall Report No 1, PENGON, November 2002. Back

130   The Apartheid Wall Report No 1, PENGON, November 2002. Back

131   Letter of appeal for international assistance written by the villagers of Jayyous in October 2002. Back

132   Interviews conducted in Jayyous, 14-16 November 2002. Back

133   Interview with a British humanitarian aid worker, Manchester, UK, May 2003. Back

134   Figure 2 not printed. See Ev 200. Back

135   Interviews conducted in the territory, 6 November 2002. Back

136   Witnessed on 6 and 15 November 2002. Back

137   Interview with Israeli soldier, close to Itamar settlement, 6 November 2002. Back

138   Witnessed on 11 November 2002. Back

139   Drury and Winn, 1992, p 61. Back

140   Eye witness statement from British humanitarian aid worker in interview conducted in Jayyous, 14 November 2002. Back

141   Witnessed on 4 November 2002 at a checkpoint of the outskirts of Ramallah. Back

142   Address given by British humanitarian aid worker in Manchester, June 2003. Back

143   Drury and Winn, 1992, p 41. Back

144   Drury and Winn, 1992, p 44. Back

145   This information was gathered during a series of interviews in Roujeeb between 5 and 8 November 2002. Back

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