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What is the Palestinians' humanitarian situation?

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What is the Palestinians' humanitarian situation?

The Palestinian leadership's decision in 2000 to employ violence as a political tool sabotaged Israeli-Palestinian economic cooperation, causing a sharp decline in the economic well-being of the Palestinian population.
 
Israel had made substantial efforts since the signing of the Oslo accords to facilitate Palestinian-Israeli economic cooperation in the context of the peace process. As a result, there had been a marked expansion of Palestinian trade and employment in Israel, as well as other forms of economic cooperation from 1994 until the outbreak of the violence in September 2000.
 
Israel, in cooperation with the Palestinian Authority, had undertaken a broad range of actions since 1994 in order to promote and improve the free movement of goods and workers from the Palestinian Authority areas into Israel. In addition, industrial parks had been set up in the Palestinian Authority, involving substantial Israeli investment and economic incentives. These measures had a significant, positive impact on the Palestinian economy.
 
Unfortunately, the violence and terrorism have led to a sharp decline in economic activity in the area, with economic repercussions for both the Palestinian Authority and Israel.
 
The government of Israel would like to stabilize the situation in the territories, and to ease conditions for those living there. Israel has no desire to burden the Palestinian civilian population not involved in terrorism and violence.
 
Nevertheless, the acute security threat presented by Palestinian terrorism makes some measures unavoidable, if Israel is to fulfill its duty as a sovereign state to safeguard the lives of its citizens. An anti-terrorist fence is being built along the West Bank to prevent terrorist infiltration. Travel restrictions have been put into effect to stop terrorists from reaching their targets. The passage of Palestinians from the PA areas into Israel has also been limited, so as to prevent the spillover of violence and terrorism into Israeli cities. These measures, and additional precautions such as roadblocks, are designed to hinder the movement of terrorists and explosives, thereby saving innocent lives.
 
Exceptions to the restrictions have been made for the movement of commercial goods, food, medicine, medical crews and ambulances, which continue to circulate as freely as possible (given Palestinian use of ambulances to transport wanted terrorists and weapons and the involvement of Palestinian medical workers in terrorism). Moreover, procedures have been simplified to enable speedy delivery of humanitarian goods, such as medical supplies, to the Palestinian Authority.
 
Unfortunately, terrorists have used every Israeli attempt to ease restrictions on Palestinian daily life as an opportunity to renew their attacks on Israeli citizens.
 
It is Israel's policy to differentiate as much as possible between those perpetrating, aiding and directing terrorist activities, and the civilian population which is uninvolved in terrorism.
 
It must be stressed that the purpose of the security precautions is not to unduly burden the Palestinian population, but rather to ensure the security of Israeli citizens facing daily threats to their very lives. The end to these restrictions, like peace itself, is dependent on an end to the violence and terrorism.

In the meanwhile, Israel is undertaking measures to ease the humanitarian situation of the Palestinian population of the West Bank, despite the security risks. This, in the framework of negotiations, and in the hope that confidence building measures will create a more positive atmosphere for peace.


These texts are taken from material published by the Israel Ministry of Foreign affairs. with additional comments and hyperlinked materials. They were apparently published in connection with the Annapolis peace conference of 2007, but they have extensive applicability beyond it. They explain fundamentals of Israeli policy as well as the meaning of Zionism and history of the conflict.

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Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs text is at Israel, the Conflict and Peace. Original text  is copyright by Ami Isseroff and Zionism-Israel Center.

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