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Israels costly occupation

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The report says that the Isreali occupation of Palestinian territories has cost billions of shekels over the past two decades.

Israel’s Costly Occupation By IOL Staff

From economic status to social development, internal politics and world standing, the continuing occupation of Palestinian territories has been extremely expensive and damaging, an Israeli think-tank concluded in a report on Wednesday, June 4.

“The general impression is that not only does Israel have nothing to lose from the situation but that it actually benefits from it,” the non-partisan Adva center for equality and social justice said in its “The Cost of Occupation” report.

“However, the truth is that the conflict with the Palestinians is like a millstone around the neck of Israel,” avers the report.

“It undermines economic growth, burdens the budget, limits social development, sullies its vision, hangs heavy on its conscience, harms its international standing, exhausts its army, divides it politically, and threatens the future of its existence.”

The report says that the occupation of the Palestinian territories has inflicted a social, economic, military and political price that is hard to calculate.

It challenges a perceived idea that Israel’s economy is booming despite the conflict.

“In the last decade… while Israel’s economy grew by 43%, the world economy grew by 67%, the United States by 68%, the European Union states of Western Europe by 68%, India by 139%, the European Union states of Eastern Europe by 167%, the Gulf states by 174% and China by 193%.”

The occupation has cost at least extra 36.6bn shekels over the past two decades, with significant budget cuts made to pay for the mounting defense spending.

“On top of this the cost of erecting the Separation Wall will be an estimated NIS 13 billion more.”

The 700km-long barrier is a mix of electronic fences and concrete walls that will eventually snake some 900 kilometers (540 miles) along the occupied West Bank and leave even larger swathes of its territory on the Israeli side.

The International Court of Justice has issued a landmark ruling branding the wall as illegal and the UN General Assembly has asked Israel to tear it down and compensate the Palestinians affected.


The think tank warned that economic deterioration and social inequality in Israel has grown dramatically.

One in every five Israeli families now ranked as poor, against one in every 10 in the 1970s, Adva said.

Social security payments, child allowances and unemployment compensation were cut significantly between 2001 and 2005 with rising defense costs.

The report also describes the damaging effect of the occupation on the Israeli politics.

“For years, Israeli governments have risen or fallen on their stance on the Palestinian issue,” says the 36-page report.

“This being the case, political parties do not bother to develop genuine socio-economic agendas.

“While in other countries, social and economic issues are those that differentiate between the main political camps – left and right – in Israel, the line of demarcation is policy on the Palestinian issue.”

Adva maintains that the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories is also damaging Israel international standing.

“The Israeli-Palestinian conflict in general, and the occupation in particular, weaken the international status of Israel, cast doubt on the legality of its actions and damage its standing in the world.”

The report contends that public opinion surveys repeatedly reveal that Israel’s image across the globe is deeply battered.

“The prolonged occupation of the Palestinian territories has placed Israel in the situation of friction or even confrontation with sizeable parts of the international community,” it adds.

A BBC World Service poll of 28,000 people across 27 countries last year showed that Israel tops the list of countries that have the most negative influence in the world.

A recent EU poll found that 59 percent of Europeans regard Israel as the biggest threat to world peace.

“Various circles in the West, mainly intellectual groups, have tried repeatedly to impose a boycott on Israeli products and even on Israeli universities and scholars,” says Adva.

The University and College Union, which represents more than 120,000 academics and lecturers in England, voted by a majority show of hands at its annual meeting Wednesday to consider the moral and political implications of education links with Israeli institutions.

The motion cited the closure of the Gaza Strip, the killing of Palestinian civilians and the continued existence of Jewish settlements on occupied Palestinian lands as the reasons for a boycott.


The think-tank concludes that the conflict with the Palestinians is becoming too expensive for Israel.

“In short, Israel is paying a heavy price for the continuation of the conflict and for the absence of a fair and agreed-upon partition,” it says.

It cites the impact of the occupation on the Palestinians.

“They have failed to create stable institutions and to promote economic development; their daily sustenance is dependent upon the good will of donors; they are exposed to violent death, injury, imprisonment and deportation, as well as to land confiscation and property damage.”

Through endless peace talks since the launch of Middle East peace process in Oslo in 1991, little progress has been achieved in Israeli-Palestinian negotiations.

Israel still places stumbling obstacles to the establishment of an independent Palestinian state on the pre-1967 borders as stipulated by UN resolutions.

Adva warns that without a fair solution to the Palestinian cause, Israel will continue to pay the price for years to come.

“Without a political solution that allows the Palestinians an honorable, independent existence as well as an opportunity for economic development, Israel is liable to be called upon – time and time again – to pay the price it paid.”

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