Yet another report by the UN, in this case the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), has outlined the causes of Palestine’s economic decline, attributing it directly to Israel’s military occupation and settlement expansion.
However, the executive summary of the report contains the first indications of safeguarding Israel’s impunity by stating: “The international community should assume its responsibility to support the Palestinian people to withstand the adversities of prolonged occupation.” As evidence increases that the international community is not seeking to halt Israeli violations, the questioning of such reports and their underlying motives becomes urgent.
The report commences with commemoration as 2017 marks the 50th year of Israel’s military occupation of Palestine, admitting that “occupation is currently even more entrenched, while its complex socioeconomic toll has worsened over time.”
Not only has Israel appropriated land and resources, as well as fragmented Palestinian territory to eliminate any semblance of cohesion. Palestinian dependency upon Israel, combined with the deliberate attempts to deprive Palestinians of basic necessities, has resulted in a scenario where any growth in the gross domestic product (GDP) – in the case of the occupied West Bank – is not an indication of progress and reflects the necessities caused by deprivation.
In Gaza, this is most evident as reconstruction activities allowed the GDP to rise while the enclave continues to suffocate due to a lack of development. The report notes that since the Oslo Accords, “per capita GDP in Gaza has shrunk by 23 per cent”.
Another contradiction in the report lies in a 2016 note which UNCTAD referenced. In order to reverse Israel’s military occupation damages and implement the UN Sustainable Goals, UNCTAD recommended a framework which calculated the costs of such damage. Yet, while such a framework would work if the international community was indeed working to halt the military occupation as one of the necessary steps towards decolonisation, the fact that there is no will to hold Israel accountable will result in a scenario where every idea becomes an irrelevant treatise and Palestinians continue deteriorating under conditions which are allowed to ravage territory unhindered.
UNCTAD also acknowledged the need to reverse “the ongoing downward trend of donor support, as well as the lifting of restrictions imposed by Israel on Palestinian productive and trade activities.” Other observations by UNCTAD include the adverse effects of settler population growth and settlement expansion, while Palestinians are increasingly targeted by home demolitions and forced displacement. In 2016, OCHA recorded the highest rate of demolitions at 1094, as well as an increase in demolitions of donor-funded structures that alleviated basic needs for Palestinians. The rate of unemployment for Palestinians is one of the highest in the world, reaching 42 per cent in Gaza.
It is obvious that international support and recommendations are not aiding Palestinians. The only political framework that is permanently regurgitated is that of the two-state paradigm, together with the expectation that Palestinians are politically subservient while discussing the same repercussions of political violence away from a political framework. If sustainability continues to be built upon obsolete impositions, there is no chance of severing the dependency inflicted upon Palestinians by Israel, and sustained by the international community.
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