Friday, November 21, 2014

[ePalestine] Amnesty Int'l: Israeli forces displayed ‘callous indifference’ in deadly attacks on family homes in Gaza

The human capacity to bury memory and move on without accountability is incomprehensible.

Report available in En, Sp, and Fr at this link. I wish they would translate to Hebrew too.

Israeli forces displayed 'callous indifference' in deadly attacks on family homes in Gaza

A Palestinian child sits above the ruins of his ruined home, and looks at thousands of homes destroyed because of the war on Gaza.

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Wednesday, November 19, 2014

[ePalestine] Watch: Why is Jerusalem always on edge? (3mins)

As we all mourn, yet more, senseless loss of innocent lives and destruction of property we have no option but to keep hope alive. This is not the time to remind all that we have warned of such an outbreak of uncontrollable violence for years now. Rather, this is the time we wake up to the reality of where the politics of exclusivity, occupation and extremism is taking us all. I, for one, refuse to just go with this bloody flow. I refuse to not try to better understand the underlying causes of violence amongst us, be it murder or mass murder, be it individually-driven or state-driven, and redouble my efforts to bring about a just peace in Palestine and Israel.


Why is Jerusalem always on edge?

I thank Samia Khoury for bringing this short and informative video to my attention.


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Wednesday, November 12, 2014

[ePalestine] Interview with Sam Bahour - Jung & Naiv in Israel & Palestine: Episode 207

Jung & Naiv (Germany)

Interview (in English) with Sam Bahour on August 14th, 2014 by the German new media outfit Jung & Naiv (Young and Naive). (48:48)


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Tuesday, November 11, 2014

[ePalestine] The New Yorker: Israel's One-State Reality (By David Remnick)

"I'm not asking if we've forgotten how to be Jewish, but if we've forgotten how to be human." ~Reuven (Ruvi) Rivlin, the new President of Israel

"Israel has not moved to the right. It has gone to a madhouse!" ~Dr. Husam Zomlot, a high-ranking adviser in the Abbas government

No one will be able to say they were not forewarned where this is all heading.

The New Yorker

Letter from Jerusalem - November 17, 2014

The One-State Reality

Israel's conservative President speaks up for civility, and pays a price.

By David Remnick

Reuven (Ruvi) Rivlin, the new President of Israel, is ardently opposed to the establishment of a Palestinian state. He is instead a proponent of Greater Israel, one Jewish state from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea. He professes to be mystified that anyone should object to the continued construction of Jewish settlements in the West Bank: "It can't be 'occupied territory' if the land is your own."



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Friday, November 07, 2014

[ePalestine] NYT: Europe Is Blocking Mideast Peace (By NAVI PILLAY)

A very sound analysis that should be read by all involved.

"This cycle of violence will only be broken when the international community insists upon greater accountability and ceases to turn a blind eye to the horrific human rights violations committed by both sides."

New York Times

The Opinion Pages | Op-Ed Contributor

Europe Is Blocking Mideast Peace

NOV. 6, 2014

LONDON — This summer's war in Gaza was the latest episode in a cycle of mistrust, aggression and destruction. Yet again the world is counting the cost in lives, homes, hospitals, schools, factories and other civilian infrastructure. More than 2,100 Palestinians were killed in the conflict, at least half of them civilians and around a quarter of them children. Sixty-six Israeli soldiers also died, as well as five civilians, including one child.

This cycle of violence will only be broken when the international community insists upon greater accountability and ceases to turn a blind eye to the horrific human rights violations committed by both sides.

One way of facilitating accountability would be for Palestine to join the International Criminal Court. The I.C.C., where I sat as a judge for five years, hears cases concerning the most serious international crimes: genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes. It plays a vital role in deterring future violence and ensuring justice for crimes that are not being tried or cannot be tried at the national level. The Rome Statute, which is the legal basis of the I.C.C., entered into force on July 1, 2002; 122 countries have acceded.

The I.C.C. currently has no jurisdiction over Israel or Palestine because neither party has acceded to the court's statute. Israel, fearing possible war crimes charges, has decided not to become a party. Palestine, which has been able to accede to the I.C.C. since it was accorded Observer State status at the United Nations in 2012, has threatened to become a party, though it seems reluctant to follow through for fear of losing a political bargaining chip.

If Palestine accedes, the I.C.C. would have jurisdiction to investigate crimes committed by all sides in the territory of Palestine, which includes the West Bank and Gaza Strip, irrespective of Israel's nonmembership. But the problem is that Europe and the United States oppose Palestinian accession. In the latter case, it's not surprising; indeed, America is not even an I.C.C. member. But it is less understandable for individual European member states and the European Union as a whole to take this position.

The European Union is a staunch supporter of the I.C.C. It uses its trade and development deals to encourage other countries to join, and it has withdrawn aid from countries for refusing to cooperate with the court. But in stark contrast to its position on other conflicts, and in violation of the obligations of I.C.C. members to promote the universality of the Rome Statute, European officials have warned Palestine "to use constructively its U.N. status and not to undertake steps which would lead further away from a negotiated solution." This mesage is clear: refrain from joining the I.C.C.

Europe should support Palestine's bid to join the court because I.C.C. jurisdiction could become the ultimate deterrent that breaks the cycle of conflict.

It could ensure that both Palestine and Israel are held accountable for future war crimes. After decades of impunity, and no redress for crimes committed — including indiscriminate firing of rockets, bombing of civilians and targeting of hospitals and schools — I.C.C. accession would deter the worst violence.

Would Hamas continue to fire rockets into Israel or hide militants in schools if it knew its leaders would appear in the dock? Would Israel shell hospitals or shoot down children if it knew its leaders could be jailed in The Hague? The specter of the I.C.C. could be a game changer in preventing or drastically reshaping the dynamics of any future conflict. And by promising serious legal consequences for those who commit war crimes, it would encourage both sides to stay at the negotiating table.

Furthermore, if the Palestinians joined the court, the Israelis would need to think carefully about continued settlement expansion because the I.C.C.'s statute defines as a war crime, "the transfer, directly or indirectly, by the occupying power of parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies" — which would arguably apply to Israel's settlement activity.

Europe should not be concerned that I.C.C. accession might obstruct peace talks. On the contrary, it is exactly what is needed to build trust and encourage cooperation. For the last few decades there has been no notable progress in the peace talks, precisely because of the lack of an accountability mechanism. Repeated violations of international humanitarian law have gone unpunished, leading to a breakdown of trust and a refusal to negotiate in good faith.

The best contribution the Europeans can make to peace between Israel and Palestine would be to abandon their hypocrisy and encourage Palestine to accede to the I.C.C.

As Palestinian leaders debate whether to join the court, constructive European engagement could make the difference. By removing their opposition, they could send a clear signal that impunity must come to an end, and in doing so boost the chances of success in future peace talks.
Navi Pillay was the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights from 2008 to 2014 and a judge at the International Criminal Court from 2003 to 2008.

A version of this op-ed appears in print on November 7, 2014, in The International New York Times.



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Saturday, November 01, 2014

[ePalestine] Otherwise Occupied / The genius of Israeli evil: It poses as concern (By Amira Hass)


Otherwise Occupied / The genius of Israeli evil: It poses as concern 

How to murder human beings without using an explosive or a knife, how to empty them from within, how to steal from workers of the land the thing they hold most dear. 

By Amira Hass | Oct. 27, 2014

The Elon Moreh settlement dominates the olive groves of Deir al-Hatab
The settlement of Elon Moreh, with the city of Nablus in the background. Photo by AP

Israeli evil is not at all banal. Abundant in inventions and innovations as well as in age-old techniques, it trickles like water and bursts out from hidden places. But unlike floods, it does not reach an end, and it affects some while being invisible, undetectable and non-existent for others. The genius of Israeli evil is in its ability to disguise itself as compassion and concern (thus providing Bernard-Henri Lévy and Elie Wiesel with yet another opportunity to praise the Jewish state in widely-read essays). 

Take, for example, the inventive technique of Israeli agriculture: two to five days per year of cultivating the land. A shmita (sabbatical) for land every year, instead of remaining idle every seven years. It does so 360 days each year. Our compassionate and generous army allows tens of thousands of Palestinians living in the West Bank to work their land for only three or four or five days per year in order to protect them from attacks by Israelis, colonizers, settlers – in short, Jews. For the rest of the year, the land is a mirage. 

Take, for instance, the village of Deir el-Hatab. The settlement of Elon Moreh and its outposts dominate about half of its 12,000 dunams (some 3,000 acres). Because of the proximity to the settlement, the village's farmers are not permitted to cultivate about 6,000 dunams of their land, nor are they permitted to walk there, graze flocks, rotate crops, plow, weed, watch birds or transmit their family's accumulated knowledge to the young generation. They may go there only two or three days a year to pick the olives that Allah made to sprout with his rain and that unknown Israelis did not manage to steal. 

Evil also excels at being patient. It knows that land whose owners do not access it for 360 days a year does not disappear. It becomes, de facto, land belonging to the master who loves nature and hikes and grazing flocks, just as our ancestors did. 

As is written on the sign beside the road leading out of Elon Moreh: "May it be Your will, our God and God of our ancestors, that you lead us in peace and guide our footsteps in peace ... and rescue us from the hand of every foe, ambush and highwaymen and all manner of calamity along the way," (an excerpt from the Jewish travelers' prayer.) 

Take Deir el-Hatab and multiply it by ... how many? Seven villages? A hundred? Add in the spring of Deir el-Hatab, the water source that the grandmothers of the village's grandmothers enjoyed and used. It has now become a pool for ritual immersion and a place to relax for Jews only, by the side of the Palestinian-free road leading to Elon Moreh. Multiply it by dozens more springs that have suffered a similar fate. 

Put everything together and you get another innovative technique from the producers of Israeli evil: How to murder human beings without using an explosive or a knife, how to empty them from within, how to steal from workers of the land the thing they hold most dear – not only their livelihood and their children's future, but also the deeply-rooted relationship of love they have with their homeland, which exists without satanic verses or eye-rolling or generous subsidies from the World Zionist Organization's Settlement Department. 

The genius of Israeli evil is that it is broken down into an infinite number of atoms, individual cases that the human brain – and even more so a newspaper column – cannot contain in their entirety, and a single definition cannot conceptualize them. We will write about stolen land, and leave out the demolished home. We will leave out both in favor of writing about the prohibition on family visits in prison, but there will not be enough time to write about the military raids and the invasion of a home with frightened children inside, and the atmosphere of "action" in the army unit. 

We will waste days searching for the soldier who aimed a rifle at the expense of the days required to describe the branching out of the siege of Gaza under the shadow of promises of relief measures. We will write about the relief measures, and it will be forgotten that the Gaza Strip continues to function like a detention facility for 1.8 million people. We will write about a detention camp, and people will tell us that we are repeating ourselves. We will write about a 40-percent unemployment rate in Gaza and about how only seven of 40 graduates in nursing from Al-Quds University found work, and people will say: "But what does that have to do with us?" 

Evil is very good at recruiting linguistic accomplices. "An intifada is running wild in Jerusalem," read one headline. When will we write in a Hebrew headline that the built-in, well-thought-out and deliberate discrimination against Palestinians committed by the Interior Ministry, the Jerusalem municipality and the National Insurance Institute for decades continues to run wild and inflict disasters in the city? It is impossible. It's too long for one headline. 

Or a "human-rights violation" – a definition by which this writer also transgresses, a definition that is dragged into dealing with those who have been harmed ("victim," another despicable collaborating word) instead of those who are doing harm. 

To keep our blood pressure down, we have not touched on the evil embodied in the killing of children by Israeli troops, the evil of Israel's collective disregard of the inevitable wrath that builds up with the burial of each bullet-riddled child, the evil that exists in the evasive wording imposed by so-called objective traditions of news reporting. Killing? Israeli soldiers shoot at Palestinian children because that is the job of soldiers who are sent to protect, with self-sacrifice, the colonialist enterprise and the benefits that it provides to the master nation. Is it any wonder that so few Israelis are emigrating abroad? 

An earlier version of this article incorrectly referred to the World Zionist Organization's Settlement Division as part of the Jewish Agency. 



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Tuesday, October 28, 2014

[ePalestine] LRB: Organised Hypocrisy on a Monumental Scale (By Robert Wade)

"They [restrictions] are so pervasive and systematic that it almost seems as if the Israeli state has mapped the entire Palestinian economy in terms of input-output relations, right down to the capillary level of the individual, the household, the small firm, the large firm, the school, the university, so as to find all possible choke points, which Israeli officials can tighten or loosen at will." ~Prof. Robert Wade



24 October 2014

London Review of Books

Organised Hypocrisy on a Monumental Scale

Robert Wade on the Economic Occupation of the West Bank

Late last year I made my first visit to the West Bank. I'd never before been anywhere in what was once known as the Levant, between Anatolia and Egypt, though I've travelled in other parts of the world, as a researcher into economic and political development. Mostly I look at institutions – of all kinds and sizes – and the ways they go about their business, whether it's the management of common resources at village level, such as grazing and irrigation, or the state-level implementation of policies on industry and technology. I visited the West Bank at the invitation of the Kenyon Institute, which arranges visits and lectures by British-based academics. As well as lecturing, I interviewed civil servants and politicians, NGO officials and owners of small factories, and travelled across much of the territory. I was struck by the development impasse in the West Bank, and by the granular details of Palestinian life under the Israeli control system: I mean daily life, at the basic level, as distinct from the high-profile feuds and negotiations with which we're all familiar.

First, some figures. In the combined territory of Israel plus Palestine, the population of Israeli Jews is just over six million, of whom about half a million live in East Jerusalem or settlements in the West Bank. The population of Palestinian Arabs is about six million, of whom some 2.7 million live in the West Bank, 1.7 million in Gaza and 1.7 million in Israel. So the ratio of Palestinian Arabs to Israeli Jews in the combined territory is 49.8:50.2. However, two qualifications have to be made. First, the population of Palestinian Arabs living as refugees is estimated at 6.8 million, bringing the number of Palestinian Arabs to nearly 13 million. Second, within the borders of Israel plus Palestine, the Arabs in the four territories where Arabs live (West Bank, Gaza, East Jerusalem and Israel) have little exchange with one another; they are in no sense a unit.

The West Bank's population of 2.7 million is around a third the size of Israel's (including Arabs), but has a much higher birthrate (though the birthrate among Jewish settlers in the West Bank and East Jerusalem is even higher).

The average income of Jewish Israelis (at market exchange rates) is around $40,000; that of Arab Israelis $13,000; that of West Bankers $3700, and less in Gaza.

At the end of the Second World War, Jews accounted for about 34 per cent of the population of historic or British Mandate Palestine, Arabs 66 per cent; the average income of the Jews was about twice that of Arabs. Today, the population ratio is almost 50:50; the average income of Jews is about 11 times that of West Bankers. Few places in the world have a long land border with such a large average income disparity between the two sides.

Before I arrived in the West Bank I had read about the Israeli system of control. 'The miracle is based on denial,' Ari Shavit writes in My Promised Land. 'Bulldozers razed Palestinian villages, warrants confiscated Palestinian land, laws revoked Palestinians' citizenship and annulled their homeland.' But reading about it is one thing; encountering the system at first hand is quite another.

The souk in Hebron's old city was eerily empty, with almost no people or goods to be seen. Walking through it I noticed netting strung over the street, and looking up towards the bright blue sky was puzzled to see rubbish strewn on the netting. My hosts explained that Israeli settlers had occupied the apartments of departed Palestinians above the souk, or built new apartments on top of the Palestinians'; and from this vantage point had taken to tossing their rubbish onto the heads of passing Palestinians below. Hence the netting. I was told that a minister in the Palestinian Authority recently had a chamber pot emptied on top of her.

The souk was like a ghost town, my hosts explained, because the Israeli government had closed off most access points to Palestinians, in order to ensure that the Israeli settlers could enter and leave the city by dedicated routes, avoiding all contact with Palestinians. The main way in to the souk had a revolving steel gate guarded by an Israeli soldier. As we passed through, two men on one side had a stack of cartons of canned goods on a trolley; they lifted the cartons one by one high up over the top of the barrier, into the hands of two men on the other side, who lowered them onto their trolley, ready to move elsewhere. Think of the transaction costs of shifting those canned goods a couple of metres through the checkpoint.

The next day, on a dusty dirt road outside Nablus, with the Israeli security fence on one side and an olive grove on the other, I met two brothers walking towards the town some three kilometres away, where they lived. They had been working on their (ancestral) land on the Israeli side of the fence. The Israelis manned a gate closer to the town, they said, but opened it for only one hour in the early morning, one hour at midday and one hour in the late afternoon. If they wanted to come or go at other times they walked, or sometimes drove a tractor, several kilometres to the next gate, which had more extended opening hours. They also each needed a permit to cross the fence. The permits didn't last long. The period varied but was commonly about two months. When it expired the men had to apply for another permit, which could take weeks. Last year they applied for a permit to cover the period for harvesting their greenhouse tomatoes, their main source of income. But it took 40 days to arrive, by which time the crop had rotted. They had two more brothers who were not allowed to cross the fence under any circumstances, because years before they had been jailed for protesting against Israeli rule.

On to a nearby herder community, where fifty households tend several thousand head of sheep and goats on barren land. Electricity lines run overhead, water and sewage pipes run below, but the herders have no access to them. They buy water from an Israeli-owned water depot some distance away. They can pay for an Israeli-owned tanker to bring water to their cistern; but it was cheaper for them to tow their own water container to the depot behind a tractor, fill it, and pull it back home. In 2008 the Israeli authorities confiscated their water container, saying it did not meet standards. Now they pay the extra for the Israeli-owned tanker delivery.

The Palestinian Hydrology Group, an NGO, has been working for more than twenty years to improve water and sanitation facilities throughout the West Bank. The Nablus office has provided toilets to fifty poor communities, including this settlement of herders. In Israeli eyes the toilets are illegal, because built without a permit. The PHG knows from experience that the chances of getting a permit are practically zero. So, backed by Spanish aid, it built quickly collapsible toilet cabins. With just a few minutes' notice the components can be spirited out of sight and reassembled when the soldiers are gone. In Area C of the West Bank (more than 60 per cent of the territory) it is illegal even to mend a failing water cistern without a permit – which is rarely given. Solar panels would require a permit, too.

The same restrictions mean that areas A and B of the West Bank (40 per cent of the territory), where Palestinians have greater scope for self-government, cannot be connected to scale-efficient infrastructure networks for electricity and water. The areas are fragmented (ghettoised) into small enclaves surrounded by area C land, where infrastructure projects require Israeli permits, which are rarely given. This greatly increases the cost of infrastructure services and restricts their supply to most of the West Bank population.

At the other end of the socio-economic ladder, I spoke to a senior Palestinian telecommunications executive. He told me that the Oslo Accords explicitly stated that the West Bank administration had the right to establish 'separate and independent telecommunication networks'. But the fine print said that Israel would allocate frequencies for the Palestinians (or not). Unsurprisingly, given the enveloping structure of rule, the Israeli government has not allocated anything like enough frequencies to the Palestinians, with the result that the costs of building networks in Palestine are three times higher than they otherwise would be. Palestinians are unable to access the internet or email on their phones, because Israel has not allocated the frequencies needed for 3G (for 'security reasons'). Israel has however allocated 3G frequencies to Israeli companies serving West Bank settlers and to provide seamless telecom access to Israeli citizens moving about the West Bank.

Telecom equipment can only be brought in through Israeli ports. Several years ago the Palestinian telecom agency ordered equipment from Ericsson, identical to Ericsson equipment imported at the same time by Israel. The Israeli equipment passed through customs in two weeks; the Palestinian equipment was held for two years for 'security checks', all the time incurring daily storage fees. Israel also insists on the same equipment standards for Palestine as for Israel, despite the income disparity.

Israel systematically blocks Palestinian external trade with other countries (70 per cent of the West Bank's exports are sold in Israel). The only alternatives to Israel's ports are two land bridges to Jordan. Israel often closes one of them, and the other is often choked by insufficient infrastructure. Israel levies murky forms of protection against Palestinian products, such as health and safety standards that Palestinian producers cannot comply with. Israeli law requires a wide range of products, including pharmaceuticals, to be certified before entering Israel; but Israeli security law also typically prohibits Israeli citizens from performing inspections in the Palestinian territories. Palestinian products subject to these rules therefore cannot be sold to the Israeli market, because they cannot be inspected by Israelis before entering Israel.

Israel has steadily blocked Palestine's bids for membership of the World Trade Organisation, despite EU support and US non-objection, so Palestine cannot bring complaints against Israel's restrictions on its exports to the WTO dispute settlement mechanism. At the same time as Israel is unconstrained by WTO rules in its dealings with Palestinian trade, the Palestinian economy bears the brunt of the free trade policies – unrestricted imports – instituted by the Palestinian Authority in compliance with the rules of the customs union with Israel and with the prescriptions of the World Bank and IMF.

No surprise, then, that the ratio of Palestine's exports to GDP has steadily declined over the past two decades. One need not believe in free international trade as a magic bullet for development to see that Israel's restrictions on Palestine's international trade – even with Israel – are a major obstacle to Palestine's economic development.

Around 70 per cent of the Palestinian Authority's revenue comes from customs and other fees collected by the Israelis on the PA's behalf. The Israelis take a sizeable collection fee and pass on the balance (or not). If some Palestinians behave badly in Israeli eyes – by striking back against the occupation or pressing for membership of international organisations – they may withhold the revenue, starving the PA of funds and making it difficult to provide even minimal public services.

Universities on the West Bank can usually employ visiting academics from outside Palestine for only one month before a permit is required; the permit may take years to arrive. It is widely said among the Palestinian elite that the quality of university education is deteriorating. To get a quality university education young people must leave, but few have the resources to do so.

Everywhere I went, I encountered despair about the Palestinian Authority and its effectiveness, even allowing for the tight Israeli constraints. Some 70 per cent of the PA's revenues goes on salaries to public officials. Members of parliament, ministers and the president pay themselves extremely generously compared to average income: their average salary is about 24 times the Palestinian average, one of the highest ratios in the world (in Lebanon it's 15:1, in Bolivia 10:1, Saudi Arabia 5:1, USA 5:1, Norway 2:1).

I visited a shoe factory in Hebron and a soap factory in Nablus. They are both supply rather than demand-constrained; they could sell more, mainly for export, if they produced more (though the shoe factory would then have to import more materials, with all the transaction costs that would incur). But the factories are a mess, in bad need of modernisation, not just of their equipment (which would have to be imported) but in terms of layout, storage, cleanliness and lighting.

The engineers of Taiwan's Industrial Development Bureau, which I studied in the 1980s, were required to spend several days a month visiting factories, coaching owners and managers on improving production layout, investing in new equipment, exploring links with foreign-invested firms in Taiwan, investigating export markets.

I asked the shoe and soap factory owners if they had received any visits or support from officials of the Palestinian Authority. They said not. Later I asked a senior official whether the PA had any industrial development coaching or extension service. Yes, he said, we have PalTrade (a trade promotion agency). I said that what I had in mind was quite different from trade promotion. Well, he said, we have a Labour Ministry which looks after work conditions in factories.

His response illustrates what happens when a state is barely able to support itself, at the mercy of its neighbour's (un)willingness to hand over its due revenue and to allow imports and exports. Under such conditions no state can sustain a development strategy, and it is no wonder that many PA officials are focused above all on survival: both their own survival in their well-paid positions, and the survival of the power structure they benefit from. Then the Washington-Brussels Consensus – that market liberalisation is the route to development – can be used to sprinkle justification on passivity. The fact that Chinese textile makers can profitably sell nylon keffiyehs in Palestine for only 10 shekel, undercutting Palestine-made cotton scarves at 25 shekel, can be interpreted as a simple gain for consumer welfare; with the hope, inspired by the theory of comparative advantage, that redundant textile workers will find employment in higher value-added activities elsewhere. But unemployment is high and rising, especially among the young.

The restrictions that the Israeli state imposes on Palestinians in the West Bank (to say nothing of Gaza, which I did not visit) are most visible in the Wall and security fence, which divides the whole length of the West Bank, including deep intrusions to annex additional land for Israel. But the restrictions also cover the movement of people, the import and export of goods and services, investments, and access to basic infrastructure (electricity, water, sanitation). They are so pervasive and systematic that it almost seems as if the Israeli state has mapped the entire Palestinian economy in terms of input-output relations, right down to the capillary level of the individual, the household, the small firm, the large firm, the school, the university, so as to find all possible choke points, which Israeli officials can tighten or loosen at will.

Under these circumstances – which I'm happy to say I have never encountered elsewhere – political and economic development is barely possible. In November 2013, the Israeli foreign minister, Avigdor Lieberman, said: 'We can talk seriously about a political settlement with the Palestinians when their per capita GDP reaches $10,000 – not a day before that' (because only then will Palestinians have enough at stake genuinely to want peace). This expresses organised hypocrisy on a monumental scale. Until Palestine has substantial sovereignty, including control over borders and natural resources, the conditions for a 'political settlement' will be postponed indefinitely, and the region will remain a generator of conflicts feeding larger regional conflicts – indefinitely.

Still, even within narrow constraints, the Palestinian Authority or its successor could do more than at present to foster economic development. For example, it could give higher priority to industry and agriculture, and less to 'services' (including the salaries of public officials). It could create a public-private-NGO agency to perform the same functions as Taiwan's Industrial Development Bureau and its agricultural equivalent. The Occupied Territories now get more non-military aid per person than just about anywhere else in the world, through multilateral, US and European channels. Aid donors could do more to steer the allocations in more productive directions, and press the Palestinian Authority not to use aid money as an excuse for constructing a social compact with Palestinian citizens. They could press international organisations like the WTO and the International Olive Council to admit Palestine as a member. But in the end, firms, universities, pension funds and NGOs must mount sustained pressure on the US and Israeli governments to change their joint operating premise, 'a sovereign Palestinian state eventually, but not now'.

ISSN 0260-9592 Copyright © LRB Limited 2014


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