Collapsing Prospects: Palestinians in Area C, West Bank: a report of the Dutch multidisciplinary team on the situation of the Palestinian population in area C under the Israeli military regime

Rachel Kurian, A Leusink, P van Lieshout, M van Noorloos, Dubravka Zarkov

Research output: Book/Report/Inaugural speech/Farewell speechReportProfessional

Abstract

In October 2015, a Dutch interdisciplinary team of experts visited Area C in the West Bank , aiming at two specific objectives: to assess the human security and sustainable development situation of Palestinian communities in Area C, and subsequently to offer Dutch policy makers recommendations for specific engagements. The Expert Team focused on three themes: - the rule of law, human rights and violence; - access to natural resources, in particular water and land; - demolition and building policies and practices. Before going to Area C the team consulted a substantial number of relevant sources. During the visit itself, it met with a large number of Israeli, Palestinian and international activists, NGO practitioners, experts and academics, Dutch diplomatic representatives as well as Palestinian farmers and refugees. The team has identified three layers of Israeli military regime which directly impact – individually and cumulatively human security and sustainable development in Palestinian communities in Area C: A. The development of Israeli settlements and outposts in the territory designated by the UN Resolution 181 (II) in 1947 as a Palestinian territory. B.A system which severely restricts freedom of movement for Palestinians, consisting of the Barrier/Separation Wall, mobile and permanent checkpoints, roadblocks, separate road systems for Israelis and Palestinians and various policies of segregation and restriction of mobility. C. The fragmentation of Palestinian territories and the introduction of different governing and judicial systems in the West Bank, through the creation of Areas A, B and C, East Jerusalem and zones E1, H1 and H2. Some of the conditions described above - such as territorial, governance and judicial fragmentation - were created by the Oslo Accords, signed in 1993 and 1995. However, the accords were meant to be temporary, revisited after 5 years. Moreover, they were supposed to create the conditions for security and prosperity for both Israelis and Palestinians , and lead to a peaceful coexistence within the Two - state framework. This has not materialized. On the contrary, the Team wishes to stress with the utmost urgency that peace and security are getting ever further. The mission resulted in two main conclusions: First, the systematic institutional oppression and discrimination of the Palestinians in Area C have increased exponentially since the signing of the Oslo Accords, while human security and the prospects for growth and economic development have deteriorated dramatically. This process goes much deeper and faster than generally acknowledged. Second, it is the strong conviction of the Expert Team that such circumstances are neither sustainable nor tenable even in the short - run, and that they pose a serious and immanent threat to any possible just solution to the conflict Israeli military occupation in all its forms of domination affects the daily life of Palestinians to the extent of creating an overall context of deep human insecurity and little hope for the future of Palestinians as a people under occupation. Development aid and projects supported by international donors contribute to the survival of Palestinian communities, easing some of the immediate dire needs, but under these conditions they do not and cannot contribute to either human security or sustainable development in Palestinian communities in Area C. Recommendations In view of our main conclusions and key concerns, the Expert Team urges the Dutch Government, Parliament and policy makers to engage in debates about the nature of the Israeli military regime in the West Bank and the two- state solution. Very different positions are taken on these issues by various political and civil-society organizations in Palestine and Israel, in the Middle East, the EU, The Netherlands and other parts of the world. We recommend that the Dutch Government, Parliament and policy makers play an active role in discussing the different approaches and what consequences they bear for the Palestinian people, and that they engage in envisioning just and sustainable solutions to a Palestinian statehood. In addition, we urge the Dutch Government, Parliament and policy makers to exert their influence on Israel and persuade it to acknowledge and respect international laws referring to the illegitimacy of Israeli occupation of Palestine and its devastating effects on the Palestinian people. In particular,Israel should be required to fulfil its obligations under Oslo I and Oslo II to transfer full governing power of Areas C and B to the Palestinian National Authority, and to stop all activities prohibited by international law, such as the building, expansion and planning of Israeli settlements in the West Bank. We advise the Dutch Government, Parliament and policy makers to demand that Israel takes the following steps in order to slow down and ultimately stop the current near-collapse of Palestinian livelihood in Area C,and start creating the basic conditions for sustainable livelihood as well as personal and property security: a.Immediate acknowledgement and respect of the right of the Palestinians in Area C to human and property security, along with the abolishment of policies and practices which violate those rights. More specifically by Respecting the freedom of movement of persons and goods; Abandoning the dual legal system and other policies and practices which discriminate against Palestinians;Securing the rule of law and fair trial rights; Ensuring proper protection of Palestinians and their property against settler violence; Stopping the expulsion and forced resettlement of Palestinians within Area C and the ‘silent transfer’ from Area C; Abandoning discriminatory spatial planning and establishing Palestinian planning and building of institutions and agencies. b.Immediate withdrawal of policies and practices which have a direct negative impact on the economic development of Palestinian communities in Area C, as well as acknowledgement and respect of the right of the Palestinian people to sustainable economic development, in particular by: Allowing the Palestinians full access to their natural resources,guaranteeing a just distribution and hi-tech development of water resources under supervision of an independent party, as well as securing investments in basic water infrastructure; Restituting appropriated Palestinian land with no delay, ensuring full Palestinian access to privately -owned and communal lands and allowing Palestinian farmers free access to their arable lands and pastures; Securing the right of all Palestinians to exploit natural resources in the West Bank, specially drinking and irrigation water, quarries of building materials, minerals and nature reserves,for economic development and solving food insecurity; c.Protection of development aid, investments done by the national and international community, including the Dutch government, and all other investments enhancing personal and property security and livelihood in Area C , in particular by: Immediately dismantling the discriminatory building and demolition system with all it policies and institutions; Stopping all demolitions and withdrawing all threats of demolition (be it as a measure of collective punishment or because a property was built without a permit). d.Immediate recognition and protection of the right of Palestinian, Israeli and international individuals, groups and civil-society organizations to freedom of expression, assembly and non-violent activity, as well as the abolishment of policies and practices which violate these rights; In addition, the Expert Team urges the Dutch government to make a change within its own national space, to go further than the mere “discouraging policy” which advises companies, institutions and organizations to refrain from contributing economically, intellectually, technically or otherwise to the building and development of Israeli settlements, or to the Israeli occupation of Palestine, thus violating national and international laws and principles, and to see to it that Dutch companies and organisations that are involved in such international law violations are held accountable. Finally, The Expert Team recommends that the Dutch government uses its position with in the EU and assumes a leading role in creating, pursuing and supporting European policies which hold Israel legally, politically and economically accountable for its policies and practices in the West Bank which violate international law and impede human security and development of the Palestinians.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationAmsterdam
Number of pages54
Publication statusPublished - 2016

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