Letter: The control and power of Israel
The May 14 letter “West Bank’s economy no different from surrounding economies” (Commentary, The Aspen Times) is incorrect, as the West Bank has been under Israeli military occupation since 1967 while surrounding economies have not. I have visited Israel, the West Bank, Jordan and Syria. I met with many Israelis, Arabs/Palestinians, U.N. representatives, etc. It is Israel’s 47-year occupation of the West Bank and theft of Palestinian land that is destroying the West Bank’s economy.
In 1967, the Palestinian-Arab agriculture sector was approximately equal to that of the Israeli sector. The West Bank was exporting about 80 percent of its vegetables and 45 percent of its fruit, according to a 2000 report from the Applied Research Institute of Jerusalem. Israel determines what Palestinians can import and export and controls the West Bank’s borders. Produce has rotted waiting to cross.
The occupation limits Palestinian agricultural production by controlling access to their land, water and electricity. Israel limits movement within the West Bank via numerous checkpoints, fences, etc. Arabs cannot build or renovate without Israel’s permission, and rarely are permits granted. Since 1967, Israelis have destroyed an estimated 800,000 Palestinian olive trees.
Israel has the military and economic power. Israel’s goal is to make life so difficult for Arabs, whether they live in the West Bank or Israel, so that they will leave. Former Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion said, “The concept of transferring European Jews to Palestine and transferring the Palestinian people out is central to Zionism.” It is difficult for Palestinians to focus on their economy when Israeli soldiers use intimidation and fear to force them from their land.
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