Even the World Bank Understands: Palestine is Being Disappeared

Oct 17 2013 / 12:05 pm
Marion Castaing was mistreated when she tried to deliver emergency aid to Palestinian farmers.
Marion Castaing was mistreated when she tried to deliver emergency aid to Palestinian farmers.

By Jonathan Cook – Nazareth

Two recent images encapsulate the message behind the dry statistics of last week’s report by the World Bank on the state of the Palestinian economy.

The first is a poster from the campaigning group Visualising Palestine that shows a photoshopped image of Central Park, eerily naked. Amid New York’s skyscrapers, the park has been sheared of its trees by bulldozers. A caption reveals that since the occupation began in 1967, Israel has uprooted 800,000 olive trees belonging to Palestinians, enough to fill 33 Central Parks.

The second, a photograph widely published last month in Israel, is of a French diplomat lying on her back in the dirt, staring up at Israeli soldiers surrounding her, their guns pointing down towards her. Marion Castaing had been mistreated when she and a small group of fellow diplomats tried to deliver emergency aid, including tents, to Palestinian farmers whose homes had just been razed.

The demolitions were part of long-running efforts by Israel to clear Palestinians out of the Jordan Valley, the agricultural heartland of a future Palestinian state. Ms Castaing’s defiance resulted in her being quietly packed off back to Europe, as French officials sought to avoid a confrontation with Israel.

The World Bank report is a way of stating discreetly what Castaing and other diplomats hoped to highlight more directly: that Israel is gradually whittling away the foundations on which the Palestinians can build an independent economic life and a viable state.

This report follows a long line of warnings in recent years from international bodies on the dire economic situation facing Palestinians. But, significantly, the World Bank has homed in on the key battleground for an international community still harboring the forlorn hope that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict will end in Palestinian statehood.

The report’s focus is on the nearly two-thirds of the West Bank, known as Area C, that is exclusively under Israeli control and in which Israel has implanted more than 200 settlements to grab Palestinian land and resources.

The World Bank report should be seen as a companion piece to the surprise decision of the European Union in the summer to exclude entities associated with the settlements from EU funding.

Both in turn reflect mounting frustration in European capitals and elsewhere at Israeli intransigence and seeming US impotence. Europeans, in particular, are exasperated at their continuing role effectively subsidizing through aid an Israeli occupation with no end in sight.

With Israel and the Palestinians forced back to the negotiating table since July, and after the US secretary of state, John Kerry, warned that this was the “last chance” for a deal, the international community is desperate to exercise whatever small leverage it has on Israel and the US to secure a Palestinian state.

The World Bank’s concern about Area C is justified. This is the location of almost all the resources a Palestinian state will need to exploit: undeveloped land for future construction; arable land and water springs to grow crops; quarries to mine stone and the Dead Sea to extract minerals; and archaeological sites to attract tourism.

With access to these resources, the Palestinian Authority could generate an extra income of $3.4 billion a year, increasing its GDP by a third, reducing a ballooning deficit, cutting unemployment rates that have reached 23 per cent, easing poverty and food insecurity and helping the fledgling state break free of aid dependency. But none of this can be achieved while Israel maintains its chokehold on Area C in violation of the 1993 Oslo accords.

Israel has entrenched its rule in Area C precisely because of its wealth of natural resources. Israel neither wants the Palestinians to gain the assets with which to build a state nor intends to lose the many material benefits it has accrued for itself and the settler population in Area C.

It is its treatment of Area C that gives the lie to Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s claim that he has been pursuing “economic peace” with the Palestinians in lieu of progress on the diplomatic front. Rather, the Palestinian description of Israeli policy as “economic warfare” is much nearer the mark. During the Oslo period, the disparity between Israel’s per capita GDP and that of the Palestinians has doubled, to $30,000. And the World Bank says that the Palestinian economy is rapidly shrinking: the 11 per cent growth that Netanyahu took credit for in 2011 has crashed to 1.9 per cent in the first six months of this year. In the West Bank, GDP has actually contracted, by 0.1 per cent.

Despite its resources, Area C is being starved of Palestinian funds. Investors are averse to dealing with Israeli military authorities who invariably deny them development permits and severely restrict movement. The image of the French diplomat in the dirt is one that symbolises their own likely treatment if they confront Israel in Area C. Palestinian farmers, meanwhile, cannot grow profitable crops with the miserly water rations Israel allots them from their own acquifers.

Aware of the many obstacles to developing Area C, Palestinian officials have simply neglected it, concentrating instead on the densely populated and resource-poor third of the West Bank under their full or partial control.

The hope was that this would change when Kerry announced in the run-up to the renewed talks a plan to encourage private investors to pour in $4 billion to develop the Palestinian economy. But the reality, as the report notes, is that there can be no serious investment in the economic heartland of Area C until Israel’s control ends.

In effect, the World Bank is saying that Kerry’s plan – and the role of the international community’s envoy Tony Blair, the so-called Quatet Representative – is not only misguided, it is positively delusional. The Quartet has been trying to revive the Palestinian economy to usher in the conditions for statehood; the World Bank’s view is that there can be no Palestinian state, let alone economic revival, until Israel is forced out of the territories. The international community has it all back to front.

The idea that a financial lifeline – whether Kerry’s plan or Netanyahu’s economic peace – is going to smooth the path to the conflict’s end is an illusion. Peace, and prosperity, will come only when Palestinians are liberated from Israeli control.

– Jonathan Cook won the Martha Gellhorn Special Prize for Journalism. His latest books are “Israel and the Clash of Civilisations: Iraq, Iran and the Plan to Remake the Middle East” (Pluto Press) and “Disappearing Palestine: Israel’s Experiments in Human Despair” (Zed Books).  He contributed this article to PalestineChronicle.com. Visit: www.jonathan-cook.net. (A version of this article first appeared in The National, Abu Dhabi.)

image_pdfimage_print
Posted by on Oct 17 2013 . Filed under Articles, Features . You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 . You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

2 Comments for “Even the World Bank Understands: Palestine is Being Disappeared”

  1. Bruce Walberg

    I think the Israelites are turning into the Nazi wanna-be’s they hated so much!
    I was barred from comments on the Reuters
    A little to close to the mark I guess.
    They have always confused me. The Idea that the Bible is a land deed. Really?
    I am sick and tired of the supposed Peace deal in the works for the last 40 plus years.
    This has only provided them with the “cover” to continue there approach to “Genocide Light”.
    Stop sending them Money from the US. The Un is useless. The American government is bought and paid for. The public has been sidelined by the thought of being called Anti Semantic,
    This leaves the Palestinians on there own. At the mercy of Crazy people!

  2. Zimm

    I agree with Cook’s last sentence
    “Peace, and prosperity, will come only when Fakestinians are liberated from Israeli control”
    The fakestines can return to Jordan and liberate themselves from Israeli control. Let Jordan be renamed Fakestine and that silly star on the flag can be removed – and Voila your Biladi’s your Uncle!!!!

Leave a Comment

Please insert the correct number.


The Free Zone | Blog

  • May 30, 2016

    Palestinian Schoolgirl Expelled from Speech Contest Grand Final

    Leanne Mohamad, the 15-year-old student at Wanstead High School in London, who won a regional final of the Jack Petchey Speak Out Challenge on her stories of the Nakba, has been expelled from the competition. - Leanne Mohamad, won the Speak Out Challenge with her speech ‘Birds not Bombs’, in which she details the historical and current reality for Palestinians under Israeli occupation. - However, her speech was met... More →
  • May 30, 2016

    Gaza Fishing Syndicate: Israel Again Reduces Fishing Zone to Six Nautical Miles

    Following the expansion of the fishing zone in southern parts of the Gaza Strip by Israel to nine nautical miles last month, Israel, once again, announced reducing it to six nautical miles across the coastal enclave. - Nizar Ayyash, the head of the Palestinian Fishers Syndicate in Gaza, said the Israeli authorities have informed Palestinian fishermen about the unilateral reduction of the fishing zone. - Ayash affirmed... More →
  • May 29, 2016

    PPCS: Israel Held 729 Palestinians without Charge or Trial since Start of 2016

    The Palestine Prisoners’ Center for Studies (PPCS) has revealed on Friday, May 27, 2016 that the Israeli occupation authorities have issued and renewed the administrative detention orders of 729 Palestinians since the beginning of the year. - Riyad Al-Ashqar, PPCS spokesman,noted that administrative detention orders increased by 35 percent compared to the same period last year. - Alashqar further stated that some... More →
  • May 29, 2016

    Israel Indicts Palestinian Astrophysicist Despite Decision to Free Him

    Palestinian professor and astrophysicist Imad Barghouthi is facing charges of “incitement” by Israeli authorities, despite a decision Thursday by the Israeli military appeals court to release him from custody due to lack of sufficient evidence, according to the Palestinian Prisoner’s Society (PPS). - In a statement released by PPS on Sunday, the group said Israeli military prosecution submitted the indictment to... More →
  • May 27, 2016

    No Israeli Resistance to Bilin Protests – First Time in 11 Years

    Bilin in the West Bank stages a weekly demonstration of resistance against Israeli occupation. For the first time in the 11-year history of this popular form of opposition, Israeli forces did not use tear gas and other crowd control weapons to disperse protesters, locals said. - Witnesses said Israeli forces photographed protesters, and ambush attempts failed. Protesters raised Palestinian flags and marched in the... More →
$12,000.00
$10,800.00
$9,600.00
$8,400.00
$7,200.00
$6,000.00
$4,800.00
$3,600.00
$2,400.00
$1,200.00
$0.00
Support Palestine Chronicle
Support Palestine Chronicle
"The Palestine Chronicle is a beacon. History, witness, analysis and ways forward are here, written with authority and humanity. Long may it publish." — John Pilger.
Subscribe to Newsletter
Enter your email address to subscribe to our mailing list.
Email:
I Remember My Name
separator
Jerusalem Interrupted: Modernity and Colonial Transformation 1917-present
My Father Was A Freedom Fighter
Disclaimer RSS Feed Contact us Donation Popup
© Copyright 1999-2016 PalestineChronicle.com. All rights reserved
Powered By MediaSeniors