A letter that the Irish Times did not publish

Following an exchange of letters in the Irish Times with regards to the Control of Economic Activity (Occupied Territories) Bill with Mr Gerry Liston of Sadaka – the Ireland Palestine Alliance, we were disappointed the Irish Times did not publish our final letter on the topic. We have therefore decided to publish it here, together with the link to the letter to which it refers:

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Israel Action Day (protesting the “Occupied Territories” Bill on Grafton Street, Dublin, 17 February 2019
Dear Sir
The 2013 World Bank Report that Gerry Liston quotes in his letter (October 30th) is clearly flawed as it is based on assumptions about Palestinian behaviour patterns and aspirations, all the while ignoring complex political and security realities on the ground.
The report fails to acknowledge that despite enormous sums in international aid, the Palestinian Authority refuses, for example, to develop its own water infrastructure, build sewage treatment plants, fix massive leaks from their water pipes or bill their own citizens for water consumption, leading to enormous waste.
The report also fails to acknowledge that Israel unilaterally withdrew twenty-one Jewish communities from Gaza in 2005, turning over greenhouses and irrigation systems that produced millions of euros worth in agricultural export, to local Palestinians. Instead of making good use of these precious resources, the Palestinians destroyed the greenhouses and irrigation systems, choosing instead to launch crude but lethal rockets on Israeli communities, and to cause untold damage to the environment by burning thousands of tyres in their weekly ‘peaceful protests’ that have been ongoing since March 2018.
Developing the Palestinian economy is clearly in Israel’s strategic interest, but it is grossly unfair that Israel is the constant scapegoat for Palestinian economic failings. Rather, the Palestinian people are living under a kleptocracy that has held no elections for the past thirteen years. So long as the Palestinian leadership continues its incitement to violence and its generous payments to the families of terrorists who murder Israeli Jews, there will be no peace.

Mr Liston goes on to say that the only legitimate voice when it comes to the question of the impact of a ban on trade with Israeli settlements is that of Palestinian themselves. I recently spoke to some of the Palestinian staff of Israeli businesses in the West Bank and they are very clear that they do not want their livelihoods wrecked by ill-considered boycotts. Palestinian political appointees with their salaries financed by European taxpayers may claim otherwise, but they know the true position however much they try to intimidate their people from telling it.

Those who want to understand the true position should read the collection of essays, “Defeating Denormalization: Shared Palestinian and Israeli Perspectives on a New Path to Peace” available at http://jcpa.org/defeating-denormalization/.

Mr Liston claims that only 3% of Palestinian workers in the West Bank are employed in Israeli businesses there. Even if this low estimate is correct it does not include the workers who supply goods and services to these workers or to the Israeli businesses – these multiply the figure of jobs created by the Israeli businesses several times. And it does not take into account the fact that employees of the Israeli businesses earn several times more than employees of Palestinian businesses. When these factors are taken into account it can be seen that these businesses support a substantial part of the Palestinian economy.
Finally, Mr Liston observes that it is not a foregone conclusion that massive damages will have to be paid by Ireland because the Bill contravenes EU law. However, since Ireland’s own Attorney General has advised that it is illegal, the State will find it difficult to defend these claims. Opinions commissioned by Mr Liston’s organisation and based on factual miss-statements are unlikely to help.
Yours Sincerely
Jackie Goodall
Executive Director
Ireland Israel Alliance
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