Israeli-Palestinian Economic Working Group
On June 1, 2005, together with our partner, the Konrad Adenauer Foundation, we convened an urgent meeting of the economic working group. The decision to convene the meeting came from the weekend meeting of the group held in May in Jericho. The issue on the agenda was the future of economic-trade regime between Israel and the Palestinian Authority following the disengagement from Gaza. Representatives of the IMF, the World Bank, the Palestinian Authority and the Government of Israel participated in the meeting alongside of the other working group members – economists, business people, and other professionals.
On June 2, IPCRI issued a policy statement based on the meeting:
IN THE INTEREST OF PEACE AND ECONOMIC GROWTH: SAVE THE UNION
AN IPCRI POLICY PAPER
June 2, 2005
The Customs Union – Background and State of Affairs
At the end of the summer when Israel leaves Gaza, the continuation of the current trade regime between Israel and the Palestinian Authority comes into question. Based on the Paris Protocol - the economic agreement that was part of the Oslo Accords, a common customs envelope between the Palestinian Authority and Israel was created. Under the customs union the PA agreed to the Israeli tariff rates and to Israeli standards. As the PA had no control of their external borders, it was agreed that Israel would collect customs revenues for the Palestinians and to transfer those revenues to the Authority. Furthermore, it was agreed that there would be a unified system for VAT clearances and again these revenues would be transferred by Israel to the Palestinian Authority.
There were many problems with the implementation of the agreement and the PA had many legitimate claims about revenue leakages as a result of non-direct imports. In terms of revenue collections, in the opinion of the World Bank, the IMF and of the PA Ministry of Finance, this aspect of the agreement was quite satisfactory. The revenues from customs collections account for 25% of the PA’s GDP and the VAT revenues amount to an additional 9%.
The Disengagement and the End of the Customs Union?
Now along comes Israel with its unilateral disengagement from Gaza. Prime Minister Sharon seems to be intent on implementing the disengagement in full, including Israeli withdrawal from the Phildelphi corridor and from the international border at Rafah between Gaza and Egypt. Israel now claim that since it will not be in control of the external Gaza-Egypt border crossing, the Customs envelope arrangements must cease. What that means is that the crossing points between Gaza and Israel, mainly at Karni and Erez, will now become customs borders. For the economy of Gaza, this is next to a death blow. The costs of trade with all of the necessary and unnecessary security checks at Karni and Erez, including back-to-back trucking arrangements, are nearly too high to make trade economically feasible. If customs borders, bureaucracies and inspections are added, trade with Israel or via Israel will become virtually impossible. The new arrangements will also create two separate trade regimes for the Palestinians, a customs envelope between Israel and the West Bank and a free trade agreement or Most Favorite Nation status between Israel and Gaza.
The complete text can be found here:
Economic Policy Paper – Save the Union, June 2, 2005
SAU POLICY PAPERS
The New Palestinian Challenge – Effective Governance – Toward the Creation of a
New and Independent Palestinian Strategy
CREATING THE PALESTINIAN STATE
June 14, 2005
Introduction and Background
The fundamental Palestinian strategy to achieve statehood and independence has been focused on ending the Israeli occupation of the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem. The Oslo peace process was designed as a gradual incremental plan to transfer occupied territories to a Palestinian Authority that would demonstrate its ability to govern – provide services to the public and to develop a new relationship with Israel that would enhance trust and through it lead to further Israeli withdrawals. The Oslo process crashed as a result of a failure of the basic assumptions. Trust between Israel and the PA was not developed. Both sides did not fully implement their obligations. Good governance did not emerge in Palestine, and instead of a mutually beneficial process that would provide more peace and more security for both sides, security and peace dissipated into violence and destruction.
The basic principle was fundamentally correct – building trust is essential to move forward in a process where the main arena is the negotiating table. Today, in the total absence of trust, the likelihood of reaching the negotiations table in the near future is quite remote. Israel has initiated a process of unilateralism which many hoped, including IPCRI, could be leveraged into a bi-lateral, internationally assisted political process. In light of the reality that has developed in the past months, even real coordination of the Israeli disengagement between Israel and the PA seems very unlikely. It seems evident that the Government of Israel is not going to make any significant efforts to coordinate the disengagement, nor will the PA make a strong enough case in favor of real coordination for there to be a real possibility of creating a bi-lateral political process.
Since his election, President Mahmoud Abbas has been calling on the Government of Israel to get back to the negotiating table. He has proposed a back channel to Prime Minister Sharon and he has presented his ideas for resuming the final status negotiations to most of the world’s leaders. President Abbas has taken a strong position against Phase II of the Road Map as a rejection of the idea of another interim agreement that in his view is unnecessary. Abbas stresses that the issues are known to the sides and what is required is the political will to reach an agreement.
In the view of IPCRI, in the current political constellation, there is no political will to reach an agreement. There is no possibility of reaching the negotiating table in the near future, certainly not a table where the final status issues are under discussion. In the view of IPCRI, it would be a mistake to even try to negotiate the final status issues at this point as those negotiations would surely fail. We believe that the region cannot afford another round of failed negotiations.
The main challenge facing us today is to ensure that the Israeli disengagement is “successful”. In talking about a “successful” disengagement, we primarily refer to a successful Palestinian take-over of the territories vacated by Israel. This means first and foremost that the Palestinian Authority will assert itself over the territories that Israel withdraws from and will use the opportunity of the Israeli disengagement to govern Gaza effectively and efficiently. The Palestinian Authority has no choice but to take over Gaza and to succeed. It cannot allow itself to fail because failure will mean chaos and a loss of control. This would undoubtedly result in a return of the Israeli army to Gaza, if not for long periods, then certainly for sporadic but constant incursions. The failure of the PA to govern in Gaza could also result in the total collapse of the Abbas regime and perhaps the collapse of the entire Palestinian Authority and will ensure that the first disengagement will be the last one for the coming future.
In order to strengthen the chances for success in the “day after” disengagement scenarios, it is essential to conceive of a plan or a strategy that will ensure that Gaza first will not result in Gaza only. Something must be done, on the ground, that is real enough and compelling enough to make new inroads into gaining support for the two-state solution. Successful and effective Palestinian governance and control in Gaza will have a direct impact on the Palestinians in Gaza, but it will also have a direct impact on Israeli public opinion. Likewise, Palestinian success in Gaza will also impact positively on increasing the real support on the international community that will be ready to translate political support into a renewed global concerted effort to support Palestine and to push the political process forward. The PA and the international community will then have to ensure that financial contributions are turned into visible reality changing dynamics on the ground.
READ THE WHOLE PAPER AT:
ENVIRONMENT AND WATER DEPARTMENT
Developing Alternatives to Methyl Bromide for Controlling Soil-Borne Pests in Vegetable Farms of Gaza
During these days IPCRI is establishing eight experimental plots in Gaza together with our partners from the various agricultural cooperative for testing, evaluating, and training farmers in the use of alternatives to methyl bromide – a substance which is now outlawed by international conventions. Methyl bromide has been one of the most significant substances used in agriculture in the past years due to its effectiveness in sanitizing the soil prior to planting. It was both cheap and easy to use and very effective, leaving almost no traces on the foods grown. Methyl bromide, however, depletes the ozone in our atmosphere and is therefore outlawed. In 2004, Palestinian farmers in Gaza used some 2000 tons of Methyl Bromide. After being outlawed from the beginning of 2005, the same farmers purchased some 200 tons on the black market (from settlers of Gush Qatif). Next year there will be no possibility of purchasing the substance on the black market and farmers will have to find alternatives.
One of the world’s leading experts in alternatives to methyl bromide is Professor Yaacov Katan from the Hebrew University’s Agriculture Faculty in Rehovot. Under the direction of Prof. Katan and a former senior expert from Israeli Ministry of Agriculture, Reuven Ausher, IPCRI’s agriculture program directors Hillel Adiri and Mohammad El-Hamalawi have launched a new phase of this project.
Developing rapid and effective methods for replacing methyl bromide and other pesticides. Priority will be given to environmentally safe and acceptable methods.
Soil-borne pathogens (microorganisms causing diseases) cause heavy losses to all major crops; in severe cases they may even cause a total destruction of the crop. This problem is especially severe in intensive cropping, where sensitive crops are frequently grown in the same soil. Soil-borne pathogens may force the farmer to abandon the plot or to shift to less profitable crops.
There are several potential methods for controlling soil-borne pathogens, including pesticides, using resistant cultivars, grafting, biological control etc. However, each method has its own advantages and limitations and therefore none of these methods can be used in all instances. A long term and well planned research is necessary in order to adjust and adapt control methods to various situations.
Methyl bromide (MB) is the major soil fumigant used to control these pathogens. It is highly effective in controlling many pathogens and weeds and was also used by Palestinian farmers, e.g. in strawberries and carnation. However, MB is expensive and highly toxic. Moreover, it has been found that it destroys the ozone layer (which protects us from the dangerous ultraviolet irradiation) and therefore its use is banned since January 2005. Therefore, there is an urgent need to find alternatives to MB which are effective, economic and environmentally acceptable. It is agreed, worldwide, that there is no single alternative which can replace MB in all instances, and frequently a proper combination of methods has to be developed in order to achieve the above goals.
Soil solarization is a non-chemical method for controlling soil-borne pathogens which was first developed in Israel in 1976 and since then it was introduced or investigated in over 60 countries, including the Middle East. It is based on heating the soil by solar energy, upon using plastic mulching during summer time. Its effectiveness in controlling many pathogens and weeds and in increasing crop yields (even to over 200%) has been demonstrated in many countries. So far, it is the only nonchemical method for soil disinfestation which was developed in recent years. In a joint project between Prof. J. Katan and his colleagues and Egyptian scientists, the effectiveness of soil soalrization in both Egypt and Israel has been clearly demonstrated. This method is already used in certain farms in the Gaza area in strawberries, however, an extensive research is required in order to extend and optimize its use in the Gaza area and in the West Bank.
3. Work Plan
The replacement program of methyl bromide in the Palestinian Authority, with particular focus on the needs of the intensive cropping of vegetable crops in the Gaza Strip, spans over a 2 year period. It relies on two related components. A research component with particular focus on the promotion of soil solarization and a development one. The latter follows the adoption of the “model farms” approach and addresses the need for rapid compliance with methyl bromide phase out.
Eight model farms will be established in the year 2005 in three main crops, namely: strawberry, potato and tomato. Model farms are installed on commercial farms of various growers associations in the Gaza strip, to check the performance of methyl bromide alternatives in large plots and few replicates, comparing to a recommended standard and to small untreated control plots.
The effectiveness of the treatments will be assessed using both laboratory and field tools, as is now common worldwide, and of which we have long experience. The laboratory tools include evaluation of the control of pathogen populations in soil by the treatments, microbial analysis of soil and identification of pathogens in samples of diseased plants. The field tools include recording disease and weed incidence, plant development and yield. These assessments will enable to compare the results obtained in Gaza to those obtained in Israel and other countries and these comparisons will hopefully provide tools to further improve the applied techniques. Moreover, these assessments will expose the Palestinian professionals to field and laboratory methodologies commonly used in methyl bromide phase out projects. Thus, the joint project would provide also a training opportunity for the Palestinian partners
The average area of each model farm will be of 0.5 ha. In the case of tomato and strawberry, the model farms will address both greenhouse and outdoor cropping conditions. Each of the larger growers’ associations, namely Bet Hanun, Bet Lahia, Gaza and the Strawberry Growers Association will accommodate model farms. Whenever possible, export growers will host the model farms and the cropping pattern and record keeping will follow EUREPGAP requirements. The chosen methyl bromide alternatives meet the high density conditions of the Gaza Strip’s population, the proximity of residential areas to fields and the ensuing buffer zone limitations.
The following are the main treatments and reference rates to be laid out in the framework of the project:
Metam Sodium ( 600 l/ha) and Telon EC (400 l/ha)
Metam Sodium (600 l/ha) and Cadusafos (“Rugby”) (15 l/ha)
Solarization and Metam Sodium
Solarization and Telon EC (400 l/ha)
Solarization and Cadusafos
The model farms will host the majority of these treatments.
To reduce environmental contamination, all liquid fumigants with the exception of Cadusafos, will be applied through the drip irrigation system under plastic sheets. The application of methyl bromide and its alternatives will be done with the assistance of the chemical firms’ field staff to ensure precise dosages and application in line with safety and environmental requirements.
The installation and close monitoring of the model farms requires the employment of two extension crop protectionists for a period of 6-8 months in each of the project’s two years.
The model farms will be visited by teams of extension workers and groups of growers from all associations. At the end of each of the project years, the results will be published and presented in the framework of annual symposia. The data will be analyzed for both its performance and costs. Based on the project’s findings, recommendations for the utilization of methyl bromide chemical and non-chemical alternatives will be formulated and disseminated to all growers.
4. Time table
The project’s time table is defined first by the scheduling of soil solarization. Based on already gathered experimentation in the area, solarization is planned for the months of June-July. Strawberry is transplanted in September and harvested until May. Tomato is grown from September to June. Potato, an outdoor crop is grown from October to April.
Accordingly, the project’s first year will commence in June 2005 and will address strawberry, potato and tomato. The 2006 field program will address the same crops taking into account the findings of the first season.
The employed field staff of crop protection specialists would begin their activity in May 2005.
5. Project Management
This project is a joint Palestinian-Israeli program. It blends the experience gathered in Israel on methyl bromide phase out at two levels: the strategic management level, and the development of research and extension tools under crop conditions similar to the ones prevailing in the Gaza Strip. Further, the project relies on the needs and capabilities of the leading growers associations in the Gaza Strip and the involvement of leading crop protection specialists in the area at both levels.
The administrative management of the project and its liaison with the funding agencies is carried out by IPCRI, a joint Israel Palestine Center for Research and Information, Jerusalem. The administrative coordinator for this purpose is Hillel Adiri.
Prof. Yaacov Katan from the Faculty of Agriculture, Hebrew University is in charge of the project’s research component. Reuben Ausher, consultant, former coordinator of the field implementation of the model farms project in Israel is in charge of the planning of the model farms project.
On the Palestinian side, the project’s collaborators are Mohammad El-Hamalawi and Mohammed Rahman Abdul Hamdan
The leading Palestinian-Israeli team will convene regularly for planning purposes. The planning will include the development of a detailed annual research and model farms program, the development of crop and pest monitoring protocols, the transfer of samples for identification to Prof. Katan’s laboratory. At season end, the joint team will review the findings, work out conclusions, recommendations to growers and an action plan for the second year’s activities.
The team will recommend to the law enforcing authorities of the Palestinian Authority practical ways and schedules to reduce the utilization of methyl bromide on methyl bromide consuming vegetable crops and promote the utilization of methyl bromide chemical and non-chemical alternatives to comply with the requirements of the Montreal Protocol.
Hanna Siniora – Japan
During June 2005, IPCRI Co-CEO Mr. Hanna Siniora has been traveling around Japan as a guest of the Government of Japan. During his travels around the country, Mr. Siniora will be meeting with Government Ministers and officials, leaders of the business community and leading journalists.
Gershon Baskin – Istanbul and Washington
As part of an ongoing project of the Maxwell Institute for Foreign Policy at Syracuse University and the Istanbul Sabanci University, IPCRI’s Co-CEO was invited to participate in an evaluation workshop on the lessons learned from years of Israeli-Palestinian grass roots activities. A follow-up workshop on evaluating the impacts and lessons learned from Track II negotiations was held in Washington.
IPCRI WORKING ON GETTING THE WYE RIVER PEOPLE-TO-PEOPLE PROGRAM REFUNDED
The Goal: A $10 million annual Congressional Earmark
Over the past five years, Israeli and Palestinian organizations funded by the US Government’s Wye River grants have been working together to promote peace. The Wye River grants were intended to encourage partnerships in education, medicine, water management, and other fields. The Wye funds are now fully committed and the implementation of these projects will be completed shortly.
It is time to begin the search for new funding designed specifically to support cooperation between Israelis and Palestinians. This cooperation between non-governmental organizations is excellent Track II diplomacy, paving the way for a real settlement between the two parties. Enduring friendships have arise from these partnerships. It is important that we encourage dialogue and mutual understanding.
The Wye River People-to-People grants program grew out of the recognition that any lasting Palestinian-Israeli peace must be built between ordinary citizens and not merely political elites. $10 million from the $1.4 billion Wye supplemental, passed in the fall of 1998 following the conclusion of the talks at Maryland's Wye River Plantation, was set aside to fund cooperative projects to bring Israelis and Palestinians together. A request for proposals was published in 2000 and awards were made to a total of seventeen organizations in 2001 after a vetting process in the field and Washington.
IPCRI Co-CEO spent the last week on June in Washington meeting Congressional leaders and staffers, State Department officials, former State Department officials and ambassadors and others in an effort to gain support for further US Government funding for Israeli-Palestinian people-to-people peace making and peace building efforts.
The assessment of the meetings thus far is quite positive. The timing is right and there are significant members of Congress from both Houses who seem to be willing to support this initiative and to sponsor the necessary legislation. Support for the initiative was also found in the administration.
Updates on this initiative will follow!
IPCRI’S PAPERS AROUND THE WORLD
Towards the Creation of a New Palestinian Strategy, June 17, 2005
THE MEDIA LINE
Save the Union, June 5, 2005
Arab Media Internet Network
The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly, Khaled Duzdar, May 29, 2005
The New Palestinian Challenge – Effective Governance -Toward the Creation of a New and Independent Palestinian Strategy, June 14, 2005
The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly Khaled Duzdar, May 27, 2005 http://english.daralhayat.com/opinion/contributors/05-2005/Article-20050527-1e86b835-c0a8-10ed-004e-5e7a4ea6c816/story.html
VERMONTERS FOR A JUST PEACE IN PALESTINE/ISRAEL
The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, Khaled Duzdar, June 2, 2005
The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, Khaled Duzdar, June 4, 2005
The Good, the Bad,
and the Ugly, Khaled Duzdar,
June 3, 2005
Sharon Wants All the Pieces But that's not Peace, Gershon Baskin, June 09, 2005
Sharon Wants All The Pieces, But That's Not Peace, Gershon Baskin
ARAB REPUBLIC OF EGYPT –MINISTRY OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS
The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, Khaled Duzdar, June 2 2005 (Arabic)
COMMONGROUND NEWS SERVICE
THE DAILY STAR
Sharon wants all the
pieces, but that's not peace,
IPCRI Policy Paper: Allow the Statehood Logic to Prevail, a Palestinian State Now, Palestine Media Center, 08/05/2005
THE OSLO COALITION ON FREEDOM OF RELIGION OR BELIEF
Religion, education and (in) tolerance in the Palestinian/Israeli context
UNISPAL - UNITED NATIONS INFORMATION SYSTEM ON THE QUESTION OF PALESTINE
Allow the Statehood Logic to Prevail, 1 May, 2005 http://domino.un.org/UNISPAL.NSF/0/db4d0d5e204bba6485256ff50063a79c?OpenDocument
THE THARWA PROJECT
The Price of Peace, Gershon Baskin, June 3, 2005
IPCRI IN THE NEWS
PALESTINE MEDIA CENTER
Incitement in Palestinian Textbooks ‘a Myth’
‘Israeli Children Are Taught to Hate Arabs, Trained to Kill Them’, June 12, 2005
UPI & THE WASHINGTON TIMES
Gaza's economy needs Israel,
June 9, 2005