World Bank Record on the Palestinian Economy Under Occupation

Palestinians Getting Poorer for Third Year in a Row– World Bank Report Calls for Urgent Measures to Reverse Trend

JERUSALEM, September 29, 2015 –  Reduced donor aid, war, suspension of revenue payments and ongoing restrictions by the Government of Israel have had a severe impact on the Palestinian economy. The World Bank economic report to the Ad Hoc Liaison committee (AHLC), a forum of donors to the Palestinian Authority, examines current economic trends and recommends measures and reforms to stop further deterioration.

“The persistence of the current volatile reality increases anxiety and uncertainty, overshadowing the ability of Palestinians to perceive a brighter future. Economic development measures could serve to build confidence towards a diplomatic horizon that is desperately needed on both sides,” said Steen Lau Jorgensen, World Bank Country Director for West Bank and Gaza.

Real GDP per capita has been shrinking since 2013 due to the weak economy in the Palestinian territories. Unemployment remains high, particularly amongst Gaza’s youth where it exceeds 60 percent, and 25 percent of Palestinians currently live in poverty. The report highlights the stagnation in reconstruction in Gaza. Donors at the Cairo Conference pledged US$3.5 billion but only 35 percent has been disbursed, US$881 million less than what was supposed to be disbursed so far. In addition, only 1.6 million tons, 6.7 percent of the total needed, of construction material entered Gaza since the 2014 summer war. It will take years to address the massive reconstruction and repair needs if the longstanding restrictions on the import of building material and the slow pace of disbursement of pledges remain in place.

Recent statements by the Israeli authorities on the importance of Palestinian economic progress is a welcome signal. The report which will be presented in New York this week underscores the potential of the Palestinian economy if existing agreements are implemented and restrictions are lifted. Specific actions that would demonstrate Israeli willingness to help improve the economic condition for Palestinians include: access to Area C and to external markets, predictability of Israeli transfer of revenues it collects on behalf of the Palestinian Authority (PA), and movement of goods from and to Gaza.

According to the report, the Palestinian Authority can address fiscal challenges in areas under their control. The reduction of the wage bill, which could lead to large savings of up to 5 percentage points of GDP, is a top priority. In addition, the PA should put more effort into improving revenue collection, and pressing forward on the reforms in health and electricity sectors. “Addressing some inefficiencies in the public health spending, for example, could generate savings that could be used to reduce the deficit or to invest in the quality of public health services,” explained Jorgensen.

The lack of political horizon should not lead the parties to complacency, the report concludes, especially that several actions can be taken on economic development that are conducive to reaching a peaceful resolution.


Amnesty International: Israeli Killing of Hashlamoun in Hebron an ‘extrajudicial execution’

Evidence obtained by Amnesty International indicated that the killing of Hadeel al-Hashlamoun by Israeli forces in Hebron, in the occupied West Bank, on 22 September 2015, was an ‘extrajudicial execution‘.

Amnesty, which is headquarted in London, interviewed two eyewitnesses who saw Israeli occupation forces shoot the young student. Based on the evidence, Amnesty concluded that al-Hashlamoun “at no time posed a sufficient threat to the soldiers to make their use of deliberate lethal force permissible”.

This killing is the latest in a long line of unlawful killings carried out by the Israeli forces in the occupied West Bank with near total impunity,” Amnesty said.

The witnesses told Amnesty al-Hashlamoun was asked to open her bag for a search. She showed them the inside of her bag, but the soldiers began to yell at her, and she froze in fear. They were shouting in Hebrew, which the young woman did not understand.

Witness Fawaz Abu Aisheh, who speaks Hebrew, said he tried to help the young woman, who was trying to leave the checkpoint. He offered to translate for her, but four Israeli soldiers arrived and pushed him away.
At this point, a soldier shot al-Hashlamoun in the leg. The young woman fell to the ground. One witness says he saw her drop a knife with a brown handle, but another said he did not see a knife.

The Israeli soldier then walked closer to al-Hashlamoun and shot at her chest four or five more times, while she was lying motionless on the ground. Other soldiers yelled at him to stop, yet he kept on shooting.

The Israeli military claims that al-Hashlamoun walked toward the occupation forces with a knife, but witnesses said the young woman had her hands inside her niqab, her full veil, the entire time, and never tried to move toward any of the soldiers.

Israel also released a photo of a knife with a blue and yellow handle on the ground at the scene. The two eyewitnesses interviewed by Amnesty and photographs of the incident contradict these official claims.

As for the allegation that al-Hashlamoun had a knife, Amnesty remarks that, “Even if al-Hashlamoun did have a knife, Israeli soldiers, who are protected with body armour and heavily equipped with advanced weapons, could have controlled the situation and arrested her without threatening her life”.

Open fire regulations of the Israeli military in the occupied West Bank allow soldiers to open fire only when their lives are in imminent danger, and Amnesty International concludes that this was not the case in the shooting of al-Hashlamoun, as she was standing still and separated from the soldiers by a metal barrier.

“There was no attempt to arrest al-Hashlamoun, according to the eyewitnesses, or to use non-lethal alternatives,” said Amnesty.

“To then shoot al-Hashlamoun again multiple times as she lay wounded on the ground indicates that her killing was an extrajudicial execution,” added Amnesty.

“Unlawful and deliberate killings carried out by order of government or military officials, or with their complicity or acquiescence, amount to extrajudicial executions, which are prohibited at all times and constitute crimes under international law”.

Amnesty added that, “An extrajudicial execution would also constitute a willful killing, which is a grave breach of the Fourth Geneva Convention, which applies to Israel’s long-standing military occupation of the Occupied Palestinian Territories, and a war crime”.

An eyewitness who stayed in the area around al-Hashlamoun for 15-20 minutes after the shooting, before being forced to leave by Israeli soldiers, said no medical help was given to the young woman, who lay bleeding to death.

Local media reported that Israeli forces prevented Palestinian medics from helping al-Hashlamoun, and did not put her into an ambulance for 30-40 minutes after they shot her.

“In order to comply with their obligations under the right to life, Israeli forces had a duty to provide al- Hashlamoun with medical assistance at the earliest possible moment, which they clearly did not meet,” Amnesty said.

Regarding the Israeli military announcement that it is investigation the killing of Hadeel, Amnesty said that, “such internal investigations have consistently failed to identify those responsible for previous unlawful killings or to hold anyone accountable”.

“International law requires states to ensure prompt, independent, impartial and effective investigations into suspected extrajudicial executions,” it said.

Amnesty International called on the Israeli authorities to carry out such an investigation into the incident, promptly disclose the findings and ensure that anyone responsible for a human rights violation is brought to justice and that the victim’s family receives full reparation.

“Failure to effectively investigate a suspected unlawful killing in itself constitutes a violation of the right to life”.

The human rights organization indicates that it has “consistently criticized the Israeli authorities for their failure to bring to justice military or police personnel, who operate with impunity”.

Amnesty also noted that more than 25 Palestinians, including at least three children, have been killed by Israeli forces in the occupied West Bank in 2015.

It said that, dozens more in the West Bank were killed by Israeli soldiers in 2014; “In many cases, it appears that the killings were unlawful, and some may have been either willful killings or extrajudicial execution”, the human rights organization stated.


#This Amnesty`s Report came soon after the Palestinian Authority on demanded on the 22nd of September, that the UN form a committee to investigate the shooting of 18-year-old Hadel al-Hashlamon by Israeli forces in Hebron in the occupied West Bank earlier in theday.

The 18-year-old was shot at a checkpoint a at the entrance of Hebron’s central al-Shuhada street, after allegedly attempting to stab an Israeli soldier, according to the Israeli army’s official account.

She later died at the Shaare Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem, where she arrived “terribly injured, and underwent surgery upon her arrival,” the hospital spokesperson told Ma’an.

No Israeli soldiers were injured during the incident, and Israeli authorities presented no evidence of the alleged stabbing attempt.#

Netanyahu’s New Law of “Shoot to Kill Defenceless Palestinians”. Two Palestinians Killed within Hours.

The Palestinian Authority on Tuesday demanded that the UN form a committee to investigate the shooting of 18-year-old Hadel al-Hashlamon by Israeli forces in Hebron in the occupied West Bank earlier in the day.
The 18-year-old was shot at a checkpoint a at the entrance of Hebron’s central al-Shuhada street, after allegedly attempting to stab an Israeli soldier, according to the Israeli army’s official account.
She later died at the Shaare Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem, where she arrived “terribly injured, and underwent surgery upon her arrival,” the hospital spokesperson told Ma’an.
No Israeli soldiers were injured during the incident, and Israeli authorities presented no evidence of the alleged stabbing attempt.
A local activist group, Youth Against Settlements, later released photos of the incident appearing to contradict the army’s account of events.
They appear to show the girl without any knife and at some distance from the soldiers before they opened fire.
Video footage from local new agency PalMedia, meanwhile, showed the teen left bleeding on the pavement, reportedly for up to 30 minutes, before she was roughly dragged away by an Israeli soldier, with soldiers and heavily armed settlers looked on.
The PA reiterated calls for the urgent intervention of the international community to pressure Israel into halting crimes against unarmed Palestinians, as well as ending policies of killing with impunity carried out under military occupation.
Al-Hashlamon’s death came only hours after another Palestinian, 21-year-old Diyaa Abdul-Halim Talahmah, was also killed during clashes with Israeli forces Monday night, also with contradictory reports of how he died.
The Israeli army said he died when an Improvised Explosive Device he was attempting to throw at soldiers exploded prematurely, although Palestinian sources said he was shot dead.
In recent months, Israeli forces have shot a number of Palestinians, later alleging that they had attempted to carry out stabbing attacks on them, although Palestinians have questioned the allegations.

The Palestinian leadership is making efforts to bring Israeli authorities to justice in the international arena, particularly as they say there is a lack of due process in Israeli military courts and investigations.


All Nations Should Adhere to International Law

Statement by Dr. Saeb Erekat, Secretary General of the PLO, on the Occasion of the Israeli Massacre of Sabra and Shatila and the Continued Israeli Aggression on the Al-Aqsa Mosque Compound

All Nations Should Adhere to International Law

The massacre of Sabra and Shatila (Beirut, 1982) has become a symbol of forced Palestinian displacement. Thousands of defenseless civilians came under fire and were slaughtered in an area fully controlled by the Israeli Occupation Forces. The perpetrators of such massacre were never prosecuted, on the contrary, they were even promoted within their ranks for the attack. The Israeli commander in charge of the area, Ariel Sharon, became Prime Minister of Israel, who despite attempts to try him in Belgium on the international legal principle of universal jurisdiction, died last year without paying any price for the order given to carry out the massacre.

In order for peace to prevail, the world must support justice for all, rather than allow for injustice against one, perpetrated through Israeli crimes. In an effort to defend our peoples’ rights, the State of Palestine has joined the International Criminal Court and provided the Court with comprehensive information about crimes committed against the people of Palestine.

In light of the latest wave of Israeli crimes, the worst since 1969 according to the head of the Heritage and Manuscripts Department of the Al-Aqsa Mosque Compound, the PLO Executive Committee resolved to convey the matter of Israeli attacks against Jerusalem and its Holy Sites, particularly against the Al Aqsa Mosque Compound, to the Security Council. Israeli attempts at changing Jerusalem’s status quo will be met with more Palestinian steadfastness on the ground, including legal and political efforts to end Israel’s culture of impunity. Israeli attempts at turning Jerusalem into an exclusively Jewish city are part of Israel’s attempts at being recognized as a “Jewish State,” something the State of Palestine rejects for this being a clear step toward erasing Palestinian history, consolidating discrimination against Palestinian citizens of Israel, negating Palestinian refugee rights, and in direct conflict with the principles of democracy.

Impunity only incentivizes Israeli violations of international law. While marking 33 years of the massacre of Sabra and Shatila, and in the middle of an escalation of Israeli attacks against Jerusalem in general and the Al-Aqsa Mosque Compound in particular, we call upon the world to assume its responsibility, fully recognize the State of Palestine on the 1967 border, ban settlement products as well as to divest from companies profiting from the situation of occupation, colonization and Apartheid imposed by Israel in Palestine.