We hear little from the Palestinian Occupied Territories other than endless death, destruction, poverty and despair. While living standards plummet and the death toll rockets, it’s difficult to imagine a less likely place to make a profit. But despite the humanitarian catastrophe unfolding, and the international attention it receives, names familiar on high streets across Europe and the US are actively supporting Israel’s Occupation of Palestine through their business practices – threatening to prolong the misery of the Palestinian people for many years to come. Read more about Profiting from the Occupation: The corporate interests fuelling conflict in Palestine
Beyond the barren Judean Mountain range, east from Jerusalem, lies the Jordan Valley, an area which receives almost no media coverage, despite being home to 52,000 Palestinians and accounting for 30% of West Bank territory. I am taken there by Stop the Wall campaign, in a battered mini bus with Egyptian music blaring out of the radio and the blazing heat burning our skin through the window. As we drop down from the mountains vast plantations of palm trees, citrus fruits and grape vines stretch as far as the eye can see. Every plantation is also surrounded by electrical fencing, barbed wire and “Danger” signs. Read more about Crime in the Valley: Life on the Other Side of Palestine
Coming only four weeks after the European declaration of sanctions against the Palestinian Authority, Ehud Olmert’s announcement of a new Israeli Government should raise profound questions in any Western country truly interested in a ‘balanced’ approach towards the Middle East. Olmert’s government does contain many politicians responsible for the last five years of terror and impoverishment on the West Bank, who fall foul of the conditions the Quartet (US, EU, UN and Russia) has seen fit to place on the Palestinians. Read more about Israel and the West: New Government, Old Policies
“I’m not looking for Sharon to do anything other than… to act in the measured way I spoke of”. And when the “measured way” includes air raids, mass arrests of Palestinians and serious violation of international law, British Minister for the Middle East, Kim Howells, is unlikely to be disappointed. At the very time Palestine takes on the characteristics of the anti-apartheid movement - with sanctions and boycott calls, an extensive twinning network, and Churches disinvesting from companies complicit in the Occupation -the British Government appears to tread ever more delicately around Israel. Read more about Gaza Last? The British Government's U-turn on Palestine
In April 2005, Nick Dearden travelled around occupied Palestine to witness the effects of over four years of Intifada and thirty years of occupation with the indie Glasgow band Belle & Sebastian. He witnessed the impact of the Wall on Palestinian communities, the expansion of settlements, fenced off Palestinian villages, settlers in Hebron, the dire situation of Bedouin, the effects of house demolitions and he visited the Gaza Strip. “Only when one reaches Rafah - the border line between Palestine and Egypt - does one realize that the violence these people have seen has been an even heavier burden than poverty they suffer.” Read more about A wall as a faultline separating the haves and have-nots
Frequently in the global economy, it seems that corporations are able to get away with activities which would see an individual locked up in the Hague for decades. Take the case of Caterpillar. Without selling a single bomb, gun or F16 fighter, Caterpillar has been supplying the Israeli military with its “key weapon”, in the words one Israeli commander, in its illegal and brutal occupation of Palestine. Caterpillar’s D-9 bulldozers have been responsible for destroying “agricultural farms, greenhouses, ancient olive groves.. numerous Palestinian homes and sometimes human lives”. Read more about Caterpillar: Making a Killing in Palestine?
The Palestinians are suffering, in the words of the UN Relief and Works Agency, the “effect of a terrible natural disaster”, but one that has been created by people and politics. A manmade catastrophe where a power imbalance, maintained and exaggerated by Western governments lies at the heart of mass impoverishment and dehumanisation of an entire people. Palestine is a microcosm of everything going on in the world today. Nick Dearden is Campaigns Officer at UK anti-poverty charity War on Want, examines the state of affairs in Palestine. Read more about Palestine: the end of their dreams