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Economic and social repercussions of Israeli occupation on the living conditions of Palestinian people in the occupied territory, including Jerusalem, and of the Arab population in occupied Syrian Golan.

Numerous factors have contributed – and continue to contribute – to the negative social and economic living conditions of the Palestinian people in the occupied territory and Syrian Golan. Over thirty years of military occupation, including prolonged curfews and restrictive economic measures imposed by the occupying Israeli authorities in response to crises and confrontations, have severely limited economic and social development of the Palestinian territory and populace. Time and again, the United Nations (UN) have passed Resolutions to address the living conditions of Palestinian people in the occupied territory, including Jerusalem and Syrian Golan; and time and again they have not been fully adhered to or implemented. The people of Palestine and Israel have yet to resolve the issue and are losing hope as the situation continues to deteriorate. As youths in the occupied territories lose faith in the chance of a positive resolution to the present situation – as many in the older population have already – the situation will almost certainly deteriorate further in the future, if not successfully addressed soon. To address these repercussions of Israeli occupation, historical context is needed.

Following WWI, the Palestinian territory came under the administration of the United Kingdom, which supported “…the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people” (Balfour Declaration). Ignored Palestinian demands for independence and resentment to the large-scale Jewish immigration led to rebellion in 1937. Great Britain, having failed to implement formulas to bring independence to the territory, brought the Palestinian question before the UN in 1947.

In 1947, the UN General Assembly established the United Nations Special Committee on Palestine (UNSCOP) to investigate the question of Palestine and to recommend solutions. While Jewish organizations cooperated with UNSCOP, the Palestinian leadership refused. The Palestinian leadership felt the UN had neglected the question of Palestinian independence and that the UN looked to Palestine as a solution to the Jewish refugee problem of Europe. Later that year, the UN General Assembly adopted Resolution 181, which approved the Plan of Partition with Economic Union (PPEU). This plan basically partitioned the Palestinian territory into two independent states: one Jewish and the other Palestinian Arab, with Jerusalem as an internationally administered city.

The Palestinian Arabs opposed the plan, as it divided the territory and did not allow the Palestinian people to decide their own destiny. The Jewish Agency accepted the resolution, and after the British relinquished power in 1948, Israel proclaimed its independence on the territory allotted to it by the PPEU. Arab and Jewish communities erupted in violence and surrounding Arab States entered the territory to defend the Palestinian Arabs as Israel defended its own citizens. In the ensuing war, over half the indigenous Palestinian populations fled or were expelled from the territory as Israel occupied three quarters of the Palestinian territory and the Arab States occupying the remainder. UN resolution 194 called for the Palestinian refugees wishing to return and live in peace to be allowed to do so, and those not wishing to return to be compensated for their property.

In the 1967 war, Israel occupied the remaining Palestinian territory, including Jerusalem (subsequently annexed). An estimated half of a million Palestinians fled the territory. Security Council Resolution 242 called on Israel to withdraw from territories it had occupied in the conflict. The Israeli authority has yet to fully implement its withdrawal due to political and security situations.

In 1993, the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) and Israel signed the Principals on Interim Self-Government Arrangements (PISGA), but these arrangements stalled, and the prospect of full implementation is at best questionable. The situation has further deteriorated into acts of violence against civilians (suicide-bombings, extra-judicial killings, accidental deaths, beatings and torture, etc.); continued destruction of property; sustained disruption of education; periodic environmental destruction and agricultural violations; persistent destruction of infrastructure and detrimental economic impact (Palestinian unemployment rate at over 65%); uneven appropriation of water resources (Israeli appropriation is 5 times that of Palestinian); intermittent inhibition of medical services; continued expansion of illegal settlements; recurrent collective punishments and reprisals (curfews and closures, etc.); and other human rights violations and possible war crimes.

The inalienable rights of the Palestinian people have been internationally accepted, yet the situation continues its course. Continued instability within Palestine will continue to destabilize the entire region. It is necessary to address the negative living conditions at present to enable the Palestinian people to continue to contribute towards the development of economic and social stability in the occupied territory. Issues of macro- and micro-finance, enterprise programs, and monetary and humanitarian assistance are essential in alleviating the strain that occupation continues to place on the Palestinian people.

Other issues must also be addressed if sustainable economic and social development is to be achieved. It is essential to make both Palestinians and Israelis more secure by bringing an immediate end to violence and terror. The solution must address the political, economic, humanitarian and institutional issues of the problem. Palestinian political reform and progress are crucial, but they must be accompanied by Israeli actions to improve the lives of Palestinians by permitting the resumption of economic activity and the movement of goods, people, and essential services by lifting curfews and closures; by returning the tax revenues owed to the Palestinian authority; and by alleviating the humanitarian crises of the occupied territories in general.

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