The Jordan Times
December 17, 2007 - 1:25pm

The conference of the 90 donor countries for the Palestinians kicks off today in Paris amidst hopes that investment towards the economic development of the Palestinian territories also will be a critical investment in the peace process.

There is no doubt that a nexus exists between economic progress in the Palestinian areas and the quest for a peaceful resolution of the Palestinian conflict. There is, however, a basic hindrance to this endeavour. As long as Israel maintains its policy that restricts free travel for the Palestinians and peppers their territories with military checkpoints that end up choking their economic life, no amount of investment will really help much or attain its objective.

The World Bank has already warned that investment in the Palestinian economy cannot obtain the results hoped for as long as Israel maintains its restrictions on free movement of Palestinians and goods, and keeps their territories disjointed and dismembered.

The Paris conference should therefore call on Israel to at least relax its measures against the Palestinians so that they may have a chance to improve their economic situation and combat unemployment and poverty.

Lifting sanctions on the Gaza Strip is also strongly recommended, despite Hamas’ take over of the strip. The entire population in impoverished Gaza cannot be made to pay for the ruling power. International humanitarian law prohibits starving people or denying them basic life necessities as a tool of war.

As long as Palestinians continue to live in desperate conditions, there are few chances they will renounce violence as a means to achieve liberation and independence.

And while donor countries can be expected to be quite generous when announcing their pledges, some may not be that forthcoming when it comes to delivering on their promises of aid to the Palestinians. Should this be the case, the damage would be immeasurable, giving the Palestinians an added signal that the international community is not serious about extending even necessary economic support to this beleaguered people.


American Task Force on Palestine - 1634 Eye St. NW, Suite 725, Washington DC 20006 - Telephone: 202-262-0017