Select Committee on International Development Written Evidence

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, etc.

  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 persons.


  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 Palestinians.

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 goods.


  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 case.

  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 Rights:

  The Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territory:

August 2003

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