Select Committee on International Development Minutes of Evidence

Examination of Witness (Questions 100-119)

11 NOVEMBER 2003


  Q100  Mr Walter: I am fascinated by this concept that this civil authority assumes powers even in the West Bank. I wonder if I could develop your relationship with the civil authority and, in particular, with CoGAT, as to whether or not you have an effective relationship with CoGAT and whether or not you see it as a means of communication between those who are the occupiers and those who are occupied?

  Mr Halper: We are a political organisation. We oppose the occupation, period. Therefore, we do not normally—in some cases, as in the case of this House, a few cases, we do negotiate—mix humanitarian work and political work, which I think is also very important. If we are trying to approach things in a humanitarian way, first of all, there is no end to it and we simply do not have the resources for that, but in addition it dulls the political, because what often happens, and it has happened to us in the past, is that when there is a demolition we come out and we help the family, and it all comes out with the media and public opinion that we are the good guys because we are the ones that came to help the family. The Palestinians turn out to be victims, like victims of an earthquake, and the whole political dimension is lost. So we resist the occupation; we do not normally come into contact with the civil administration. There are organisations—for example, there is a group called Bim Kom, which is an organisation of Israeli planners and architects for human rights, that help Palestinian families acquire building permits. They help develop master plans for communities. We do not engage in that. Essentially, we say "The occupation has to end"; that is our focus. Any attempt on our part to negotiate with the authorities simply legitimises the occupation, so we simply say that Palestinian civil society will develop housing, and solutions will be reached, only when the occupation ends. As long as the occupation is in existence there is no way to liberalise or humanise the occupation. It simply has to end and it has to always, always, always be exposed for what it is, which is oppression.

  Q101  Mr Walter: I am conscious of the time, can I therefore ask you a political question? As an Israeli, do you see Israeli support for the two state solution? Briefly.

  Mr Halper: The answer is yes. I do not think the Israelis really care about the solution. What Israelis want is peace and quiet, so whatever works works. If Sharon could, in fact, guarantee peace and quiet to Israelis they would be very happy to let them continue building settlements, or whatever. That has not worked. I think what the Israelis want is the wall. They want separation, they want to cut their losses, they do not care about Palestinians, they want peace and quiet. That is the answer. They do not have a political answer to that question; it is, from their point of view, I think, irrelevant what happens to the Palestinians. "Whatever brings us peace and quiet we will support."

  Q102  Chairman: Thank you very much.

  Mr Halper: I also have this I would like to submit to the Committee[1] Thank you for inviting me.

  Chairman: Mr Halper, thank you for coming and giving evidence.

1   Obstacles to Peace. A Critical Tour of the Jerusalem/West Bank Interface, by Jeff Halper, ICAHD. Back

previous page contents next page

House of Commons home page Parliament home page House of Lords home page search page enquiries index

© Parliamentary copyright 2003
Prepared 2 December 2003