Economy

News supplement on rights of refugees reaches 30,000 households


BADIL’s Arabic-language magazine, Haq Al-Awda (Right of Return), printed and distributed as a supplement to the Ramallah daily paper Al-Ayyam has been distributed to some 30,000 households in the occupied Palestinian Territories. This is the third such supplement prepared by BADIL and distributed via the local press. Begun as a pilot project in 2003, the newspaper supplements have been a success on every level.  Earlier editions have sold out and due to strong demand, additional copies have been reprinted. This issue covers a number of current topics and the conclusions of a visit to South Africa. 

Farmers in Gaza struggle to rebuild their lives


Ahmed Said stands on the rubble of his demolished house, looking out over the wasteland that used to be his farm. He is one of many farmers in Gaza whose land has been bulldozed by Israeli forces since violence between Palestinians and Israelis escalated three years ago. Until August 2002, Ahmed made a living for his wife and eight children by cultivating olive and date trees on his three-acre plot in the central region of the Gaza Strip. But one night, his house and fields were bulldozed by Israeli forces. Since then, he has been living in his brother’s house. 

Permission to work?


It is 12:30pm at the Nablus area District Civilian Affairs Office (DCO). It is over 40 degrees outside, where a long queue of Palestinians had been waiting in the oppressive heat (some for over three hours) with dust and dirt and no place to sit. They are here to request a permit, formal permission from the Israeli government to travel from the surrounding villages into Nablus to work. Palestinians need permits to move, to live, for everything. Suraya Dadoo takes a look at the nightmare involved in navigating the permit maze. 

UK breaking arms sales rules, says rights group

Last week, the UK’s Foreign Secretary Jack Straw revealed that his government had granted export licences for parts due to be fitted in US- made F16 fighters, bound for Israel. Straw said the ‘head-up’ display units concerned - manufactured by BAe Systems - account for less than 1% of the jets’ value. But the Jerusalem-based Palestinian Society for the Protection of Human Rights (LAW) argues that the deal contravenes the EU’s 1998 code of conduct on arms exports. 

OPEC Fund extends US$570,000 grant to help finance capacity building projects in Palestine


The OPEC Fund for International Development today approved a grant of US$570,000 to help finance four capacity building projects designed to address some of the most urgent needs of the poorest, hardest hit communities in the West Bank. The aim is to enable them to secure a decent standard of living. This is the fifth grant approved under the Fund’s Special Grant Account for Palestine, which was set up with an initial endowment of US$10 million. The first grant was approved in December 2002 to provide financial support to Palestinian universities and students. 

Backs to the Wall


If a just peace is to prevail in the region, Israel must agree to dismantle the Wall, return confiscated land to its owners, and compensate Palestinians for damages and lost income, argue Lucy Mair and Robyn Long. Israeli occupation has made the Palestinian economy dependent upon Israel. The wall would exacerbate that dependence and vulnerability. 

Prominent Palestinian labor rights activist, prohibited from traveling


Hasan Barghouthi is a trade unionist and a known activist for peace, democracy and social justice in Palestine. On 15 October 2003, he was prohibited by the Israeli authorities from leaving the occupied territories, and on 28 October he was informed by the Israeli intelligence services that he was prohibited from traveling abroad. His work as Director of the Democracy and Workers’ Rights Center in Palestine (DWRC) requires him to travel often, and the Israeli occupying power’s decision to deny him his right to freedom of movement in the future will seriously affect it. 

Made in Israel? Are your tomatoes from an illegal settlement?


The Danish relief agency, DanChurchAid, recently started a consumers’ campaign against settlement products. It launched a website and asks consumers to sign a consumer petition to the European Commission. Fruits and vegatables 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. 

IMF audit reveals Arafat diverted $900 million to account under his personal control


An audit of the Palestinian Authority revealed that President Yasser Arafat diverted $900 million in public funds to a special bank account he controlled, an International Monetary Fund official said Saturday. The study covers the last three years of economic developments in the West Bank and Gaza. It covers the impact of the conflict on the economy and the banking sector, and it also covers all the fiscal and budgetary developments during a time of crisis. The other kind of main coverage of this study is the whole reform process. 

OPEC Fund extends US$930,000 grant to help finance social projects in Palestine


The OPEC Fund for International Development today approved a grant of US$930,000 to help finance a series of social projects designed to address some of the most urgent needs of the poorest, hardest hit communities in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Grant resources will be divided among seven organizations in support of projects covering a wide range of sectors. This is the fourth grant approved under the Fund’s Special Grant Account for Palestine, which was set up with an initial endowment of US$10 million. 

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