Are Israeli Settlements Leading to Shrinking Space for Palestinian Development?


New United Nations report today revealed that Palestinian development is hampered by ongoing expansion of Israeli settlements.

The UN report highlighted that the situation of workers in the occupied Arab territories remains “extremely worrying and precarious.”

According to the International Labour Organization, the ‘Area C’ of the West Bank, which is to be an essential part of a future Palestinian state continues to be under full Israeli control, with Palestinians denied access to their livelihoods and to one another.

Two young residents from the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA)’s Acqba Jaber camp for Palestinian refugees in the West Bank pose next to a graffiti wall. The camp is located just outside of Jericho.UN Photo/Stephenie Hollyman

The report – The situation of workers of the occupied Arab territories – appears as an appendix in the ILO Director-General’s annual report to the 101st International Labour Conference, taking place in Geneva.

The report notes that the deteriorating conditions for workers are due to the realities of the occupation on the ground and the unabated expansion of Israeli settlements.

“The peace process is at a standstill more than at any time since the Oslo Accords [of 1993].” – ILO’s Director-General, Juan Somavia

The report also notes the need for the Middle East peace process to encompass institutions and policies for job creation, social dialogue, gender equality, social security, and fair incomes.

In addition, it calls initiatives to improve education, stopthe demolition of schools in the West Bank, and stop the erosion of skills in Gaza.

ILO notes that the findings of the report are based on a mission sent earlier this year to the occupied Arab territories and Israel to assess the situation of workers of the occupied Arab territories, including the occupied Syrian Golan Heights.

On February this year, Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon said the ongoing Israeli occupations are illegal and impede Palestinian economic viability at the West Bank.

In his remarks at the UN Seminar on Assistance to the Palestinian People, which is taking place in Cairo, Mr. Ban renewed his call for progress in the Middle East peace process.

Mr. Ban also higlighted the toll taken on the economy and lives of the Palestinians by the ongoing Israeli occupation.

He stressed economic progress cannot be reached and sustained absent a credible political solution on the horizon.

The UN chief got a first-hand look at the situation on the ground and challenges on the road to peace during his trip to the region last week. He visited Israel and the occupied Palestinian territory.

He noted that settlements and their infrastructure severely restrict access to land and natural resources by the Palestinian people.

He also called once again for immediate action on the closure of the Gaza Strip. He stressed that the full opening of legitimate crossings for the import of construction materials is critical for Gaza’s economic recovery.

He urged both parties to renew dialogue and find solution to end the long-standing conflict between the two countries.

Israel captured East Jerusalem along with the West Bank and Gaza in the Six-Day War in 1967, but annexed the city as its united capital in a move not recognized by the international community. The Palestinians want East Jerusalem as capital of their future State.

Israeli-Palestinian peace talks have been stalled since late September last year following Israel’s refusal to extend a 10-month freeze on settlement activity. That decision prompted Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to withdraw from direct talks with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Mina Fabulous follows the news, especially what is going on in the US State Department. Mina turns State Department waffle into plain English. Mina Fabulous is the pen name of Carmen Avalino, the NewsBlaze production editor. When she isn’t preparing stories for NewsBlaze writers, she writes stories, but to separate her editing and writing identities, she uses the name given by her family and friends.