Memorandum submitted by Patricia Rantisi
My name is Patricia Rantisi and I have lived
in Ramallah, West Bank, since 1965, so I have witnessed two years
under Jordan and 36 years under Israeli occupation. Although British
by birth, I hold a Palestinian passport and Identity Card, so
I am treated like any Palestinian without any privileges for travel,
In March last year, I was forced at gunpoint,
to leave my home (a 4th floor flat) and made to stay with all
the other residents of the building, with neighbours on the 2nd
floor for three days, while the Israeli army "camped"
in my flat and used it for sniping. Alerted by my daughters, the
British Consulate in Jerusalem came to Ramallah, only to be turned
back because my home had become "a military zone."
My late husband, Rev Audeh Rantisi, was well-known
and respected by Moslems and Christians alike in Ramallah. He
was elected Deputy Mayor of the town in 1976, which was the last
time Municipal Elections were allowed by the Israeli Authorities.
After he was deposed in 1980, he continued to play active role
in political affairs.
Now, a widow, I am living in Shrewsbury, England.
Concerning your inquiry, I will try to answer
questions 1 to 4 from personal experience. There are, no doubt,
others who are more qualified than I am to answer the other questions.
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
For aid to address more than just emergency
relief needs, the underlying causes need to be tackled, in particular
political pressures put to bear on the Israeli Government to comply
with international law. The continual flouting of basic humanitarian
laws is the root cause of poverty. Palestinian people don't want
emergency relief. They want an end to the occupation. In many
cases, aid has been given to various NGOs working in the territory
only for their infrastructure to be destroyed by the Israeli army.
The Palestinian Agricultural Relief Committees
(PARC) which normally trains farmers in agricultural techniques
has begun work programmes to alleviate unemployment. Twisted metal
is all that remains of the greenhouses built by PARC in Beit Layla
village; the greenhouses were bulldozed to create a "security
zone" for a nearby Israeli settlement.
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
Closure, that is the Israeli army imposing curfews,
road blocks, check points and severely restricting travel is the
most important impediment to the development of a sustainable
economy. Roadblocks are the biggest root cause of unemployment.
Not only are people refused employment within Israel and even
East Jerusalem, but also they cannot travel between towns and
villages in Palestinian areas. Permits to go to East Jerusalem
are systematically denied to young men, often even professional
Bethlehem's whole infrastructure and economy
was dependent on tourism. Now, without tourists, shops are boarded
up and most people unemployed.
To go to Jerusalem from Ramallah has become
a nightmare with the checkpoints. Even with a permit, it often
depends on the whim or mood of the Israeli soldiers as to whether
you can pass. My British passport was no help as I am a dual national.
Sometimes I was turned back. To go to Ben Gurion Airport to travel
to the UK I have been denied a permit!
Movement of goods is sometimes denied and in
some cases goods have to be transferred from one lorry to another.
I have seen a lorry loaded with crates of eggs from Jerusalem
held up on the way to Ramallah for three hours in the hot sun.
The eggs must have cooked! At these checkpoints Israeli soldiers
deliberately hold up goods and regularly humiliate and even terrorise
3. The impact of the wall of separation for
Palestinian farmers and for employment, movement of people and
delivery of humanitarian assistance
The wall or security fence is the newest catastrophic
project of Israel for the Palestinian population. It is supposed
to keep out suicide bombers but it is devastatingly suicidal for
the Palestinian economy. Many farmers are divorced from their
land and their water wells, which Israel has either confiscated
or destroyed. There are a few "agricultural gates" for
the farmers, but often they are denied access and sometimes when
they try to transport their crops, the soldiers damage the harvested
The once prosperous market town of Qalqilya
in the north of the West Bank is now completely surrounded by
the concrete security wall putting all its residents virtually
in prison. It was the most important agricultural centre in the
West Bank producing about 42% of all its fruit and vegetables
and was an exporter to Israel and the Gulf States. Now, the one
entrance/exit is manned by an Israeli watchtower allowing only
one person or one vehicle to enter or exit at a time.
In the words of Jeff Halper of the Israeli Committee
against House Demolition, "There is no intention to allow
a viable Palestinian State."
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
It is interesting to note that the growth and
building of Israeli settlements on the West Bank has accelerated
since the Peace Talks in Madrid and even more so since the Oslo
Accords. In fact the settler population has doubled since 1993.
In other words, the Israelis have no intention of giving land
back to the Palestinians. All UN resolutions to curb settlement
activity have been ignored. Since coming to power in February
2001, Ariel Sharon has authorised the construction of 34 new
settlements. Alongside this, a network of highways has been constructed
for settlers to bypass Palestinian communities.
Har Homa is a new illegal settlement, recently
completed, between Jerusalem and Bethlehem. It has caused great
suffering for many Palestinian families who have had their land
confiscated and are now cut off from the surrounding villages.
One Christian family in Bethlehem owned hundreds of dunums (4
dunums= 1 acre) of land which they have legal documents for and
have been paying property taxes since 1924. In spite of a court
case, their land was illegally transferred to this new Jewish
settlement. The Israelis have become thieves and the Palestinian
legal representatives have no power, to continue fighting this
A full table of figures showing the vast difference
between the Israeli and Palestinian Economy can be found at various
websites, such as:
The Israeli Committee Against House Demolition:
The Jerusalem Center for Social and Economic
The Israeli Information Center for Human Rights
in the Occupied Territory: www.btselem.org