Mar 22, 2012

Israel Supports Humanitarian Development and Sustainability in the Palestinian Territories

Mitchell BardBy Dr. Mitchell Bard

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Despite intolerable security threats, a surge in terrorism, and a stymied peace process, the government of Israel continues to support the Palestinian people and invest in their future by providing crucial medical, security, and economic assistance aimed at enhancing their quality of life.

With the Palestinian Authority facing dire financial difficulties in 2011 due to a shortfall in international donations and budget mismanagement, Israel stepped up its economic collaboration to help sustain and stabilize the Palestinian economy. In concrete terms, Israel transferred more than 5 million shekels in tax revenues to the PA—an increase of nearly 6 percent from 2010—Israeli purchases from the PA rose by almost 20 percent to $815.9 million, and Israeli trade with the PA grew to nearly $4.4 billion. Additionally, Israel provided more than 57,000 permits for Palestinians to work in Israel and for Israeli companies in the West Bank. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also adopted measures, together with the Middle East Quartet, that will help the PA better balance their budget, increase tax collection from Gaza, and reform its revenue collection system to minimize losses. [1]

Israeli security cooperation with the Palestinians has also improved in the past year. Israel agreed to help expand the Palestinian security presence in a number of cities in the West Bank and is working to build at least seven new Palestinian police stations. Nearly 1,000 meetings were held in the last year between Israeli and Palestinian security forces to collaborate on methods for counter-terrorism, gathering evidence for crimes, addressing drug trafficking, and combating auto theft. Moreover, despite a 10 percent surge in terrorist attacks in 2011, the IDF further eased movement for the Palestinian people by dismantling three permanent checkpoints. Israel has now removed 30 checkpoints in the West Bank since 2009, leaving only 11, and measures were also made to ensure that the remaining checkpoints operate more efficiently to reduce travel delays, especially during times of religious worship and Muslim holidays. [2]

Israel also continues to ensure that Palestinians get proper medical treatment. Last year, 206,958 Palestinian patients from the West Bank and Gaza were treated in Israeli hospitals, an increase of 11 percent over 2010. Many of these patients received life-saving care such as chemotherapy and radiation treatment, organ transplant surgeries, or special birthing procedures that were unavailable to them in the territories. In addition, Israel hosted more than 100 training sessions for medical teams from the West Bank to learn both basic and more advanced treatment methods. [3]

While much of the world provides lip service to the Palestinian cause, Israel continues to be one of the only true lifelines for the Palestinian people. Despite little interest from Palestinian leaders to return to peace negotiations or clamp down on terrorism from Gaza, Israel is boosting the Palestinian economy, improving security for both Palestinians and Israelis, and providing world-class medical care for residents of the territories. Israel continues to meet its obligations under the various bilateral agreements—including stipulations for providing water, sanitation, and electricity to the PA—yet it gets little recognition for its efforts at maintaining the Palestinian quality of life.

[1] Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs, "Measures Taken by Israel in Support of Developing the Palestinian Economy and Socio-Economic Structure", MFA, March 18, 2012.
[2] Israel Defense Forces Blog, "Developments in Policy Towards the West Bank and Gaza in 2010," IDF, March 17, 2011.
[3] Israel Defense Forces Blog, "Israeli Cooperation with the Palestinians," IDF, accessed March 20, 2012.