Briefing Paper October 2012

Scottish Friends of Palestine Children in Chains Seminar

In the West Bank the detention of Palestinian children and young people by the Israeli military occupation forces, their treatment in the military courts, all go largely unreported and unchallenged. From the minute the children are detained, blindfolded or hooded, the treatment by their gaolers and military justice system can only be described as abusive and inhumane with credible reports of exposure to ill-treatment and torture.

Detained in late night raids, torn away from their family with parents denied the right to accompany them, the children will be exposed to solitary confinement, the use of leg irons and shackles. Signed confessions in Hebrew, a language most do not understand, is not uncommon

In collaboration with the Educational Institute of Scotland, Scottish Friends of Palestine is hosting a Seminar

Children in Chains – Israel’s Twilight Zone

Saturday 10th November 2012,1pm to 5pm

Hilton Edinburgh Grosvenor, Grosvenor Street, Edinburgh EH12 5EF


Gerard Horton

International Advocacy Officer –lawyer, Defence for Children International, based in Ramallah

Aimee Shalan

Director of Advocacy and Communications, Medical Aid for Palestinians

Dr Michael Kearney

Lecturer in Law, Sussex University & legal consultant for Palestinian rights body, al Haq

Chair: Tam Baillie

Scotland’s Commissioner for Children and Young People

This Seminar will explore the reality for Palestinian children under occupation, the obligations on the state of Israel, as an occupying power and members of the human race, towards these children. The Seminar will be of interest to everyone who believes that children should be treated as children.

You can pre-register to book your place at the Seminar. Entrance is free but donations appreciated.


or SfoP 31 Tinto Road Glasgow G43 2AL

or text: 07863070026 (please include an e mail address if possible)


The service provider [ie the artist] is aware that the purpose of ordering services from him is to promote the policy interests of the state of Israel via culture and art, including contributing to creating a positive image for Israel . . .The service provider will not present himself as an agent, emissary and/or representative of the Ministry

Why I think a boycott would be right

Mark Brown The Sunday Herald 2nd September 2012

Extracted from a standard Israeli Foreign Ministry contract for artists it funds to travel abroad

High Court upholds flawed procedure on torture investigations

Roi Maor 972mag 7/08/12

The High Court of Justice upheld the procedure regarding complaints of torture against Shin Bet agents, despite the fact that this procedure resulted in no investigations after nearly 600 complaints.

The High Court of Justice has upheld a controversial procedure governing investigations into allegations of abuse and torture against employees of Israel’s General Security Service, better known as the Shin Bet. According to this procedure, all complaints, usually filed by Palestinians who the Shin Bet detained and interrogated on suspicion of terrorism, are first examined by a Shin Bet official, working under the professional supervision of the Attorney General’s Office. This examination includes interviews with the complainants and the accused agents and review of relevant documentation. The case can proceed to a full criminal investigation only if this official rules that there are grounds to do so: if he finds no such grounds, the case is closed.

This procedure has been strongly criticized by human rights organizations, which submitted the petition that was rejected yesterday. The petition was drafted and litigated by the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel (PCATI), joined by more than a dozen Palestinian complainants, and many Israeli human rights organizations.

The petition and the court ruling deal with numerous issues of legal interpretation and organizational structure. However, the most relevant fact may actually be a number: zero. That is the number of complaints that resulted in a criminal investigation, out of about 600 monitored by PCATI. Zero is not the number of convictions, nor even the number of indictments. It is the number of cases that were deemed worthy of even opening a professional criminal investigation by an external body. This record is even worse than that of the flawed mechanism of accountability regarding complaints against settlers or IDF soldiers.

The High Court ruling does not seriously address the remarkable outcome of the Shin Bet’s procedure. After ploughing through some 26 pages of convoluted legalese, its basic argument appears to be that the system of investigating complaints against the Shin Bet is “evolving,” and the court does not see fit to interject itself into this evolutionary process. It argues that the Shin Bet has improved on its appalling standards of opacity and unaccountability since the 1980s, and chooses to believe the state’s promises that various additional improvements are in the works.

The court also suggested that the state respond within a month to individual petitioners’ requests to reconsider the Shin Bet’s decision not to open an investigation into their complaints. PCATI, in response, criticized the court’s refusal to label Shin Bet investigation methods as “torture” (which, under international law, would have compelled a criminal investigation in all such cases), but expressed hope that the decision regarding individual complainants might lead to proper legal recourse in those cases. Clearly, the track record on this issue is not encouraging.

Postscript: The English language story on the ruling by Ha-aretz omits the fact that no criminal investigation has been opened out of 600 cases, and does not include PCATI’s response to the ruling. Both pieces of information appear in the Hebrew version of the same article. This is not the first time something like this has happened.

A proper Zionist live fire zone

Amira Hass Ha’arez 20/8/ 2012

How Israel uses military orders to take over Palestinian land.

When police of the African National Congress are slaughtering platinum miners who demand that the mine owner (a private transnational company registered in London! ) pay them a wage that begins to befit the hardships of the job and value of the metal in operating rooms and on the fingers of plutocrats, there is no chance that one Palestinian tractor impounded by Israeli soldiers will attract the attention of a single foreign news editor anywhere on earth. In the international competition over suffering, Syrian blood and agonies win out over the south Hebron Hills in the West Bank, where the Israeli army and Civil Administration have begun acting enthusiastically and harshly to impose their authority as the supreme sovereign, confiscating last week vehicles that violate the closed-military-zone orders.

In the battle royal over what is the most creative struggle against oppressive authorities, it is no wonder the media prefers Pussy Riot in Putin’s Russia over 1,800 shepherds and farmers who insist on living and cultivating their land and raising their naturally-growing families (heaven forbid) in the place where their ancestors were born long before Herzl envisioned the Jewish state. And even longer before the army of that state decided that their lands, precisely this land, was suitable for its exercises, and that these exercises displace the rights of the indigenous inhabitants to dignity and security.

It is not for us to be burdened by the considerations of foreign news editors, and so for the second week in a row, we return to Live Fire Zone 918, this time to tell the story of Mahmoud Jabarin’s tractor, expropriated by the soldiers. And of the law-breaking driver detained by the soldiers, Hamza Jabarin. And of the distress that pervaded the village of Jinba on the night between Wednesday and Thursday when first a flock of goats disappeared (they were found at dawn alive and well), and afterward of the tractor driver who set out to look for them did not return.

At the beginning of last week, Civil Adinistration employees impounded two vehicles traveling near the village of Mufaqara with the same claim – that they violated orders concerning live fire zones. In May, there were several other confiscations, including a vehicle carrying teachers to the school in Jinba. All signs point to this happening again and again from now on. It is no longer a war to keep our Indians on their land via demolition orders for water cisterns and tents, but also the confiscation of vehicles. This move is especially effective when the vehicles are transporting water, because as is well known, Israel has meticulously refused to allow pipes carrying water to its newest settlements to be extended to nearby, generations-old Palestinian villages. This is what we may define as long-term planning.

Three weeks ago soldiers were busy registering the names of the names of people who were found in the villages of Mufaqara, Tuba and Jinba. The registration and the cars’ confiscation reiterate the state’s announcement to the High Court of Justice whereby Defense Minister Ehud Barak ordered the evacuation of eight villages in the sacred name of Live Fire Zone No. 918.

The impoundment of the tractor, the arrest of the driver and the declaration of villages as live fire zones, marginal as they may seem, are links in a continuum of space and time. This continuum must interest us, more than any stories about particular individuals. After all, in the south Hebron Hills, as in the Jordan Valley, the Negev and the Galilee, laws are legislated, military orders are issued and master plans for Jews are drawn up to cleanse as many Palestinians as possible from these areas. The continuum of time is also erasing the pre-1967 border: What was once carried out in the Galilee (Live Fire Zone 9 included the lands of Palestinian citizens of Israel that later became the Jewish city of Carmiel ) is being planned today for the entrance to Arad (seven new communities for Jews in an area where the state refuses to recognize Bedouin communities ), and regularly applied since 1967 in the West Bank. Let’s not be surprised if in five years, Live Fire Zone 918 turns into a thriving Jewish town.

Are you sick and tired of reading about this again and again? Believe me, I am sick and tired of writing about it again and again. But the most tiring thing is to have to experience it year after year, continuously since 1948. Only the new soldiers obeying orders are apparently not sick and tired. After all, someone will tell them it’s all for the sake of security and the homeland and they are heroes.

God in the supermarket

When there is no firing zone to use as an excuse, it is always possible to get help from God, as can be learned from the sign placed on the Ramallah bypass road (Route 60 ) at the junction of the Palestinian villages Dir Dibwan, Burqa and Beitin. The unauthorized and illegal outpost of Givat Asaf overlooks the junction. The original narrow, pitted road that connected Burqa and Beitin to the Ramallah junction has been closed to Palestinian traffic for 12 years with a barrier of cement blocks. The natural and traditional route to Ramallah is also blocked with an iron gate on the west side of the village, for the comfort of travellers to the Beit El illegal settlement and army base.

“We’re home,” says the sign in large letters. “Here in Beit El 3,800 years ago, the Land of Israel was promised to the Jewish people by the Creator of the Universe. By force of this promise we sit today in Haifa, Tel Aviv, Shiloh and Hebron.” But it seems that God also is in need of sponsors: the grocery store in Beit El’s neighborhood A and the minimarket in neighborhood B – as indicated at the bottom of the holy road sign.

All that is left is to ponder: The sign was erected at least five years ago, so wouldn’t it have been proper to update the date and print that 3,805 years ago, the Creator of the Universe ordered us to prevent the residents of Burqa and Beitin from sowing their wheat and tending to their olive trees?

Rachel Corrie

Omar Barghouti 28/08/12

It’s a sad day for humanity, for the Corries, for Palestinians, for all people of conscience around the world … Cindy and Craig, we share your hurt. We share your indignation at this Israeli mockery of justice which is typical of this unjust system.

This latest and widely expected Israeli court whitewash underlines what the UN Goldstone Report had proven after the Israeli massacre in Gaza in 2008-09. Referring to “structural flaws” in the so-called Israeli justice system, the report concluded that Israel cannot be trusted to administer justice according to international standards. [Goldstone Report, paragraph 1756]

Precisely! In too many cases to enumerate here, Israel’s courts have rarely sentenced Jewish-Israeli criminals for killing or injuring Palestinians or wantonly destroying their property. According to Israeli human rights organization Yesh Din,

… 91% of investigations [by Israeli police in the OPT] into crimes committed by Israelis against Palestinians and their property are closed without indictments being served. 84% of the investigation files are closed because of the investigators’ failure to locate suspects and evidence. … Indictments were served in less than 3% of these cases.

Even as early as 1996, at the height of the so-called “peace process,” an Israeli settler fatally pistol-whipped 11-year-old Palestinian child Hilmi Shusha near Bethlehem for no apparent reason. An Israeli judge first acquitted the murderer, saying the child “died on his own as a result of emotional pressure., After numerous appeals and under pressure from the Supreme Court, which termed the act “light killing,” the judge reconsidered and, as the Intifada was raging, sentenced the killer to six months of community service and a fine of a few thousand dollars. The boy’s father accused the court of issuing a “license to kill.” [Reuters, January 22, 2001; Phil Reeves, “Fury as court frees settler, The Independent, January 22, 2001]

Gideon Levy of Haaretz eloquently described the fine at the time as the “end-of-the-season” clearance price on Palestinian children’s lives, referring to the findings of B’tselem, Israel’s leading human rights organization, which documented dozens of similar cases in which perpetrators were either acquitted or received a slap on the wrist. [Gideon Levy, Haaretz, January 28, 2001]

Adding insult to injury, the complicit Israeli judge in this case implied that Rachel was not a “thinking person” because of her heroic nonviolent attempt to stand against an indisputable war crime. Given that Israel’s courts, like their South African counterparts during apartheid, have systematically and consistently been a reliable pillar of Israeli occupation, colonialism and apartheid, Israel’s war crimes and crimes against humanity ought to be prosecuted in international courts where justice has a chance to see the day of light. This should also convince anyone who still needed to be convinced that without effective BDS against Israel it will never comply with international law. This is the lesson of South Africa.

Settlers are to Occupy a Room in a Palestinian Home in Ras El-Amud

Settlement Watch 1/09/12

For the settlers of Ras El-Amud in East Jerusalem, even 15 sq.m. room in an inhabited Palestinian apartment is enough in order to create facts on the ground. According to the court’s ruling, starting from tomorrow, September 2, the settlers are allowed to occupy one room at the Hamdallah family house in East Jerusalem. One who doesn’t know the story of the settlement in East Jerusalem may ask why would the settlers insist on entering such a small room in a Palestinian house and spend thousands of Shekels in many years of legal struggle. However, in East Jerusalem, this is how it works: This way, the life of the Hamdallah’s will become even more miserable, and with time, so hope the settlers, they will give up and leave the house. As soon as they leave, the settlers may replace the house with 20 new housing units.

The Hamdallah house is a strategic spot for the settlers, it is adjacent to Ma’ale Zeitim A, a settlement of 50 units, that was completed in 2003, and Ma’ale Zeitim B of another 60 units that was completed last year. The third phase of the settlement, Ma’ale Zeitim C, of another 20 units, is planned to replace the Palestinian home. As long as the Hamdallah family stays at home, this plan cannot be implemented.

Tomorrow the war of attrition against the Hamdallah’s is about to enter another very hard period for the family. Starting from tomorrow, there are going to be settlers in their house, coming in and out, bringing guards, maybe arranging events or provocations, and the family will need to digest and try to live normal life.

Implementing the “Right of Return” for Jews

The settlers base their claim on the fact the land was owned by Jews before 1948, and now should return to the original Jewish owners. The Palestinian family managed to convince the judge that they have full rights in the house due to the long time that passed since the settlers got the ownership and the date when they first started the eviction procedures in court. However, few years ago, the settlers claimed that one room of the house was built after the limitation time and therefore, should pass to their hands. Two weeks ago the court ruled that the 15 sq.m room and a few meters of the backyard, belongs to the settlers and starting of tomorrow, they are allowed to move in.

To me, it is another example of how the occupation affects our moral judgment and even threatens the very legitimacy of our basic claims. Israel has been rightfully claiming [I would take this comment with a pinch of salt. It is more a comment on the philosophy of Settlement Watch rather than the rights of the Palestinian people – Ed] that the solution for the Palestinian refugee issue will not be solved by implementation of the full right of return to the properties they lost in the 1948 war, because this would undermine the right of the Jews for self-determination. However, the settlers, with their messianic fight to take over Palestinian properties, are ready to use the “right of return” argument for Jewish properties that were lost during the 1948 war, while prevent such a right from the Palestinians.

Israeli forces ‘attack East Jerusalem minor’

Ma’an News agency 03/09/2012

A young Palestinian’s errand for his mother took a drastic turn late Friday after he accidentally crossed into the middle of a violent clash between locals and Israeli forces.

Said Ali Qabalawi, 14, was subjected to a violent assault by Israeli troops in the town of Abu Dis, as he found himself in the wrong place while out buying milk for his baby sister. At about 9 p.m., Said says, he left a pharmacy that had run out of milk and began walking to another one further down the road. Soon, he was surrounded by Israeli troops clashing with residents.

“The soldiers surrounded me, so I ran away jumping off a high wall. I couldn’t continue to run after the jump, and at that point I was caught. The soldiers attacked me brutally hitting me with rifle butts, kicking me and tearing my clothes off. I had no idea why they were beating me,” he told Ma’an. One of the soldiers dragged the 14-year-old on the ground and he was taken to a nearby military base. At the base, they continued to beat the young man and accused him of throwing stones, which Said denies.

“Some of the soldiers spat on me and insulted me verbally. They also hit me on the stomach, and I have recently underwent a surgery in the intestine so the punches hurt me,” he added. Four hours later, Said was taken to a police station in Maale Addumim settlement near Abu Dis where he was interrogated for six hours. He was then released on a bail of 500 shekels ($124) and he was told he would attend a court hearing on Jan. 30, 2013.

An Israeli police spokesman referred inquiries to the military, and an army spokeswoman did not immediately return calls.

We must maintain “the necessary fitness of the IDF”

+972 magazine 4/09/12

This is the reason that the State of Israel has given for its recent order by Defense Minister Ehud Barak to destroy eight Palestinian villages and expel 1,500 residents from their land in the southern West Bank. “Firing Zone 918,” which the Israeli military wants for so-called training, includes 30,000 acres of private and agricultural land in the South Hebron Hills. The Palestinian residents have lived and worked on these lands for generations. Since 1999, the threat of expulsion has hovered over their heads. The destiny of these villages will soon be decided. . . . . .


Since Oslo, almost two decades ago, Israel has cemented a consistent policy in Area C, the goal of which is the deepening and eternalizing of Israeli control over the area. This policy both unilaterally determines the future of the West Bank, and diminishes Palestinians’ ability to live in Area C. This policy is enacted through a number of different methods:

– The confiscation of land and the declaration of lands as “State Lands”

– Lack of Master Plans and the and the systematic non-provision of building permits to Palestinians in the Occupied Territories

– The declaration of National Parks and Nature Reserves

– Military confiscation orders to build the separation barrier and along the Seam Line

– Sealing off territory and declaring it as an “Army Training Zone”: About 18 percent of the West Bank has been declared a “firing Zone.” which is slightly more than the entire territory contained in Area A, where all of the major Palestinian cities are located. Five thousand people from 38 different communities live on these lands. Most of them lived there before their land was declared a “firing zone.”

Israel unequivocally denies Palestinians the right to build on 70 percent of Area C, which comes out to about 44 percent of the West Bank. In the remaining 30 percent of Area C, there exist obstacles that minimize the chance of a Palestinian attaining a building permit, such that in practice, the Civil Administration permits Palestinians to build freely in only 1 percent of Area C, “much of which is already built up.” . . . . .

The expulsion of residents and the demolition of villages: international law vs. the state of Israel

Demolition of “life-sustaining infrastructures” – eight villages in this case – actually means the forced expulsion of residents, who are defined as a protected population. This expulsion is contrary to the Fourth Geneva Convention (Article 49) and the Hague Conventions. International law experts state that a violation of this section of the Convention is a war crime. It was also determined that “even indirectly creating circumstances that cause a protected people to leave shall be prohibited.” There are individual exceptions to this ‘absolute prohibition.’ whose terms do not apply in this case, as they are reserved for use during periods of population transfer, and the transferees reserve the right to be immediately returned to their land after the battles in the region end. Futhermore, Article 54 of Protocol I Addition to the Convention explicitly states that there is a prohibition on the destruction or damage to buildings necessary for the survival of the protected civilian population.

Against these very clear cut provisions, Israel is trying to justify its position on the grounds that the vitality of the area allows it to preserve “the necessary fitness of the IDF.” Evacuation orders handed to residents are based on the state’s claim that the villagers are not permanent residents of the area, and therefore should not be without a permit in the firing zone. This argument ignores historical records proving the existence of villages, which are the “center of life” of the residents for centuries, and at the latest since the 1830?s. A survey conducted in 2005 found that 88 percent of residents were born in the caves located in a “closed area.” One of the studies documenting the existence of the villages since that time, “Life in the Caves of Mount Hebron,” was published in 1985 by the Defence Ministry.


Extracted from Protests in Ramallah

Uri Avnery 15/09/12

. . . . . . . the PA is quite helpless. It is bound by the Paris Protocol, the economic appendix of the Oslo agreement. Under this protocol, the occupied territories are part of the Israeli “customs envelope” and the Palestinians cannot fix their own customs duties.

Amira Hass of Haaretz quotes the following conditions: inhabitants of the Gaza Strip are not allowed to export their agricultural products; Israel exploits the water, minerals and other assets in the West Bank; Palestinian villagers pay much higher prices for water than Israeli settlers; Gaza fishermen cannot fish beyond three miles from the shore; Palestinian inhabitants are forbidden to travel on the main highways, compelling them to make costly and time-consuming detours. [Ed note – according to The Economist, the Oslo Accords also oblige the Palestinian to buy goods at Israeli prices while having one fifth of the earning power of the average Israeli]

But more than any restrictions, it’s the occupation itself that makes any real improvement impossible. What serious foreign investor would go to a territory where everything is subject to the whims of a military government which has every motive for keeping its subjects down? A territory where every act of resistance can provoke brutal retaliation, such as the physical destruction of Palestinian offices in the 2002 “Operation Defensive Shield”? Where goods for export can rot for months, if an Israeli competitor bribes an official?

Palestinian leaders call for ‘liberation’ from Oslo Accords

Ma’an News Agency 13/09/2012

Palestinian leaders on Thursday called for release from the Oslo Accords, on the 19th anniversary of the signing of the agreements. The accords, signed Sept. 13, 1993, were meant to be an interim agreement leading to a final peace agreement and an independent Palestinian state within five years. Palestinian National Initiative leader Mustafa Barghouti said the accords turned out to be “a transition to nothing,” and had been used as a cover by Israel “to consolidate a system of apartheid.”

“We as Palestinians need to liberate ourselves from the terrible conditions of the agreement,” through popular resistance, national unity and boycott, divestment and sanctions, Barghouti told Ma’an.

The Palestinian side has committed to the agreement while Israel selectively implements the accords to its benefit, Barghouti said, adding that 19 years on the concept of the two-state solution was at risk due to Israeli settlement building. Fatah leader Mahmoud al-Aloul on Thursday called on the PA to abolish the Oslo Accords as Israel had refused to commit to its obligations and instead continued land grabs and settlement expansion in the West Bank. Negotiations toward a final peace agreement won’t succeed because Israel doesn’t want peace, al-Aloul added.

The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine on Thursday also called on the PA to disengage from all agreements with Israel, and be free of political and economic restrictions imposed by the Oslo Accords.

The Ramallah government should end security coordination with Israel and implement national unity, the leftist faction said in a statement.

Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat noted Israel’s failure to abide by its signed commitments, in a statement marking the anniversary. “Most of the Israeli settlements and their associated infrastructure have been built during the past 19 years. The number of settlers has more than doubled during this time, while forced displacement, home demolitions, ID revocations and land confiscations continue to be a daily reality in Palestine.”

Erekat added: “The interim agreements were supposed to last for five years. But what we see two decades later is apartheid rather than freedom and independence.” Erekat blamed the international community for failing to hold Israel accountable for its violations.

“Our hope for peace and justice has been destroyed by Israeli bulldozers and a culture of racism and hatred espoused within Israeli society. This horrific reality has been facilitated by the immunity which Israel has been granted by the international community.”

The Oslo Accords have been the focus of demonstrations across the West Bank in September. Protesters angry at rising prices complained that the economic sections of the treaty have been implemented by Israel selectively and mostly to its benefit, a position shared by UN agencies and economists.

Someone tell the Palestinians: It’s the occupation, stupid!

Amira Hass Ha’aretz 10/09/12

The thousands who have demonstrated in the West Bank against the PA’s economic policies play into the hands of Israel, which controls the resources but takes no responsibility.

“Geniuses,” I said to myself when dozens of trucks and taxis blocked traffic in the heart of Hebron last Wednesday in protest against the price hikes. “Geniuses,” I continued to think when four hours later I passed by the same place, and heard that other demonstrators had set fire to an effigy of Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad. The conclusion “geniuses” was only reinforced when on Friday before midnight I and the other drivers on Jerusalem Street in El Bireh had to turn back; flames were blocking the road at the entrance to the Al Amari refugee camp. And again, when the Saturday papers reported that garbage cans had been ignited and a wave of break-ins and robberies had taken place under the aegis of the Friday demonstrations in Bethlehem and its suburbs, I couldn’t help repeating: The Israelis, who designed the Oslo Accords almost 20 years ago, are geniuses. By doing so they guaranteed that the Palestinians would blame their leadership for the economic crisis and demonstrate against it by the thousands.

The panic among the PA leadership is steadily increasing. Speeches every day, with the climax coming Saturday afternoon at the press conference of PA President Mahmoud Abbas, which had been announced as top news by the Voice of Palestine radio station since Friday evening; inter-ministerial committees that are established every other day with a promise to find ways to lower prices; another promise of meetings and discussions with representatives of the various parties and non-governmental organizations; radio programs in which the interviewers and interviewees, in a condescending and paternalistic tone, understand the demonstrators but scold them for the rioting and the destruction. And a conversation with the chef of the Zayit wa Za’atar restaurant, who explains how a return to grandmother’s cheaper, healthier, traditional menu will help cope with the high prices.

Every demonstrator who didn’t finish high school because he went out to help support his family is well aware that the worldwide crisis is also affecting the “non-state” of Palestine. Every Fatah loyalist who curses Fayyad and demands hoarsely that he resign ?(as Mubarak did?) is aware that the prime minister could not promote a policy that is not acceptable to Abbas, who appointed him to his position. And every teacher whose salary is NIS 2,000 personally feels the outcome of the economic agreement with Israel, the Paris Protocol, which was signed by Fatah leader Ahmed Qureia ?(Abu Ala?). This customs agreement? (“temporary,” like Oslo and Area C?) shackles the Palestinian economy to the Israeli policy of indirect, regressive taxes. If this policy is such a burden on us, the Israelis who are not in the top decile, how could it not be even more of a burden for Palestinians whose salaries do not approach the Israeli minimum?

Oslo, a sweet deal for Israel

The leading lights of Oslo managed to write a contract that leaves Israel with the resources and the control over them, as well as the powers of sovereignty, while giving the PA the problems and the responsibility for solving them, but without the power and without the resources. In doing so they turned the PA into a defensive shield protecting the Israeli government from Palestinian fury. Is it any wonder that the demonstrators are turning to the only available address, and blame the PA for the price hike that it didn’t decide on? As for the Israelis, they enjoy believing that there is no connection between the crisis that hits the Palestinians and the occupation.

Even without the worldwide crisis and without the high indirect taxes – the latter being Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s baby – the Palestinian economy is handicapped and fragile, because of Israeli domination. Let us mention just a few facts – not all of them, because for that we would have to take over the entire page:

  1. Israel is preventing Gaza from exporting agricultural and industrial products.
  2. Israel is exploiting to the fullest the natural resources of the West Bank: water, quarries, mining in the Dead Sea, agricultural land, industrial zones, tourism and hiking sites. Every plus for the Israelis on the West Bank is a minus for the Palestinians.
  3. Israel controls the electromagnetic spectrum and thereby limits the efficiency and profitability of the Palestinian cellular companies and the Palestinian high-tech industry.
  4. Israel forbids Gaza fishermen to sail further than three nautical miles, severely limiting their prospects.
  5. Israel conducts unfair competition with Palestinian products: subsidized water for Israeli farmers, including those in the settlements, compared to a minimal allocation of drinking water to the Palestinians. When drinking water in Hebron and Bethlehem is supplied to homes once a month, it’s no wonder that the vegetable fields are parched. ?(“Do you know how much a kilo of tomatoes costs? Eight shekels,” demonstrators in Hebron told me, as though they were talking about meat. “Do you know that we’ve stopped growing cauliflower?” said a farmer in Halhoul, angrily noting the Israeli cauliflower in the stall.?)
  6. Due to the Israeli refusal to link up Palestinian communities in Area C ?(the 61 percent of the West Bank which the Oslo Accords placed under full Israeli control?), tens of thousands of people have to purchase water from tankers all year long. In the summer hundreds of thousands whose faucets have dried up have to buy water from tankers. The transportation increases the price of water to an average of eight times and more what their “neighbors,” the settlers, pay. With that money, how many enrichment classes in English and math could those families finance for their children? How many young men and women could they send to study at the university?
  7. Israel forces the Palestinians to travel on twisting byways, from one enclave to another or from the city to the villages and towns in the district. Let’s assume that on average the distance to every destination is lengthened by 10 kilometers. That should be multiplied by six days a week, at least twice a day, 30,000 vehicles ?(and that’s without including about 100,000 private cars?). The unnecessary additional cost is divided among the drivers on public transportation and the passengers, and between the truck drivers and the merchants and customers. How many clinics could this addition pay for? How many millions of euros does it cost the European taxpayer?

According to the Palestinian Economics Ministry, in 2010 alone Israeli domination caused the Palestinian economy a loss of about $6.8 billion. But that is not a reason not to go out to demonstrations. The Palestinian demonstrators are in effect saying that even in these suffocating conditions, their leadership has a certain amount of political and economic room for action, but for its own reasons is not using it to break the status quo created by the geniuses of Oslo.


Hugh Humphries


Scottish Friends of Palestine

0141 637 8046


Calendar opportunity

Resistance Art Calendar 2013

Calendar can be viewed at

“Colors from Palestine” 2013 Calendar illustrates the ceramic tiles, by artist Najat El-Taji El-Khairy, displaying (and preserving) the famous Palestinian cross stitch embroidery

“Since these wonderful dresses and items are made of material and fabric that can perish with time, Najat El-Taji El-Khairy began looking for new ways of preserving Palestinian embroidery. Reclaiming and documenting Palestinian art by painting it and preserving it on a lasting porcelain surface to show the beautiful and distinct richness of Palestinian heritage became her mission. As it happens, Najat means rescue and survival.”

SFoP can supply the calendars (which retail at $20 from Canada) as follows:

1 calendar                           £12 incl P&P

2 calendars                         £21.20 incl P&P

3 calendars                         £31     incl P&P

4 calendars                         £41.50   incl P&P

Price on application for orders greater than 4 calendars..

Details and cheque (made out to Scottish Friends of Palestine) should be sent to

Scottish Friends of Palestine

31 Tinto Road

Glasgow G43 2AL

alternatively using Paypal to

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