Business & Economy

Who really smuggled weapons to Rafah?

Israel’s ongoing assault on human lives and property in Rafah is, according to Israeli spokespersons, “aimed at preventing a huge shipment of arms being smuggled.” The past four days, Israeli forces have killed 39 Palestinians. Its military assault on Palestinians in Rafah includes extensive house demolitions and other human rights abuses. The question should be asked, who supplies Israel’s military occupation of the Gaza Strip. Both the U.S. and EU are the main suppliers of arms with which Israel has forced Palestinians to live under military occupation for decades. 

EU supports settlements economically, misleads consumers

Today ICCO, a Dutch development agency, launched the “Made in Israel?” campaign, aimed against the unlawful import of products from Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories. Products produced in the illegal settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories are exported and marketed as “Made in Israel”. This is a violation of the trade agreement between Israel and the European Union. The agreement exempts Israeli products - but not settlement products – from import duty. In practice settlement products profit of European trade preferences. So far, the EU has failed to take measures. 

Gaza Disengagement Plan: An Economist's Viewpoint

Sharon’s unilateral “disengagement” plan from Gaza does not seem to bode well for the future of the economy of the Gaza Strip. A careful reflection on the economic ramifications of what the plan has to offer will lead to this unfortunate outcome. The formidable challenge facing all concerned parties is how to make the Israeli pullout from Gaza, if and when it happens, a success to be emulated in other parts of the Palestinian occupied territories, and not a blunder to be regretted later on. Dr. Mohammed El-Samhouri, a senior economic advisor to the Palestinian Minister of Foreign Affairs, examines the plan. 

European trade unionists shocked by labor situation of Palestinians in Israel

A group of 14 trade unionists from seven European countries visited the region last week in order to investigate the labor situation of the Palestinians, both those in Israel and those from the Occupied Territories. At a public meeting organized by WAC in Haifa, a spokesperson of the European trade unionists declared that the group was shocked by the grave and humiliating situation confronting Palestinian and migrant workers. They will bring their findings before the ICFTU, the WCL and the ILO

Palestinian workers trapped inside their factory

During the latest Israeli military assault on Gaza, Israeli armed forces surrounded the Star Soda factory and trapped Palestinian workers inside, preventing them to return to their homes. Workers were inside the factory, without food, electricity, bedding or a place to sleep. Two of the trapped workers suffer from health problems, without means to relieve medical care. The workers called the Red Cross for help, but they were told that the Red Cross could not provide aid without Israeli authorization. 

World Bank launches multi-donor trust fund to support reform program

With the aim of supporting the Palestinian Authority in sustaining public services in the face of a severe fiscal crisis, the World Bank announced today the Public Financial Management Reform Trust Fund. The Reform Fund builds on the successful budget support mechanisms implemented by the European Commission since September 2000 and seeks to mobilize additional donor resources to support the PA’s budget. Per capita income dropped by half since September 2000 and is now approaching $900, nearly half of the Palestinian population is currently living below the poverty line of $2 per day. 

Rerouting Palestinian transit trade could cut costs, boost savings, says new UNCTAD study

Even with the long seacoast of the Gaza Strip, the occupied Palestinian territory is effectively landlocked and almost completely dependent on Israeli transport facilities for participation in international trade. In addition, Israeli closure policy, security measures and control of the main borders and transport routes render Palestinian trade totally dependent on political and security developments. In a new study, UNCTAD shows that this situation will have to be overcome if the extremely high transport costs of Palestinian trade are to be brought down. 

Philips electronics corporation trading in violation of Dutch arms policy

Electronics multinational Philips likes to be known for its ethical and sustainable business behaviour. Research by the Campagne tegen Wapenhandel reveals though that Philips does not care about arms trade to Israel. At its website the company says that it sells parts of the F-16 fighter aircraft and Apache attack helicopter to NATO countries and Israel. The deliveries stem from Philips involvement in so-called offset agreements. Especially Apaches are frequently used by Israeli forces to commit extrajudicial executions of Palestinians. With its export policy the Netherlands severely violates European and Dutch guidelines for arms transfers. 

Palestinian Issue Riddles Bush's 2005 Budget

In his January 20, 2004 State of the Union speech President Bush was criticized for not even mentioning the plight of the Palestinians. President Bush completely ignored the blatant Israeli policy of human rights violations that the Israel military occupation has sustained against the Palestinians for decades now. The same cannot be said for his proposed $2.4 trillion Budget of the United States Government for Fiscal Year 2005, which was transmitted to Congress on February 2, 2004 and covers the fiscal year beginning October 1, 2004. The budget is planned to be brought to the floor of both the House and Senate between July 1 and September 30 and is riddled with references to the Palestinian issue. Sam Bahour reports from Palestine. 

WFP purchases olive oil to help ease hardship of Palestinian farmers

In an effort to address the dire socioeconomic conditions in the Palestinian Territories, the World Food Programme — in collaboration with the Palestinian Ministry of Agriculture — will purchase 416 MT of olive oil, at a value of US$1.3 million, from 2600 selected poor Palestinian farmers. The agency will then deliver the locally purchased olive oil to WFP beneficiaries living in Gaza and in the south of the West Bank who have limited access to oil due to its high cost and unavailability.