Israel’s “disengagement plan” threatens to cut off Palestinians from economy
Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon announced an initiative on Thursday that would prevent Palestinians from the West Bank and Gaza from working in Israel. Before the rise of the Intifada in 2000, some 125,000 Palestinians crossed into Israel every day, earning a total of $3.4 million.
The policy is part of Sharon’s “disengagement plan”, an alternative to the US-backed Road Map peace initiative. In the event of the Road Map’s failure to bring stability to the region in the next few months, the Israeli government will implement unilateral steps for separation from the Palestinians, Sharon announced in a major policy address Thursday, December 18, 2003.
Israel has repeatedly closed its borders since the outbreak of violence in October 2000, preventing Palestinian workers from commuting to their jobs. The Jewish state permitted 10,000 Palestinian workers and 1,000 merchants from the Gaza Strip to cross through the Erez checkpoint in early September after entrance was restricted in mid-August following a Jerusalem suicide bombing that killed 20 people.
The new plan would make border closures permanent in an effort to reduce Palestinian economic dependence on Israel and strengthen economic ties between the territories and neighboring Arab states, said the Prime Minister.
"We will consider allowing, in coordination with Jordan and Egypt, the freer passage of people and goods through the international crossings, while implementing the required security measures," Sharon said in his address.
According to the World Bank, The proximate cause of the Palestinian economic crisis is the Israeli government’s imposition of restrictions on the movement of people and goods across borders and within the West Bank and Gaza. With unemployment rising and incomes collapsing, over half a million Palestinians in this formerly middle-income economy are now fully dependent on food aid. — (menareport.com)
© 2003 Mena Report (www.menareport.com)