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Lopsided 'temporary' deals become entrenched injustices as Israeli occupation persists Open in fullscreen

Daoud Kuttab

Lopsided 'temporary' deals become entrenched injustices as Israeli occupation persists

The Oslo accords were groundbreaking, but have only benefited Israel as occupation drags on [Corbis/Getty]

Date of publication: 26 June, 2017

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Comment: Open-ended agreements reached without resolution always favour the occupier over the occupied, writes Daoud Kuttab.
At the time of their first signing, the gaps in these laws were brushed aside because they were part of a "temporary law" that was not supposed to last more than five years.

Now, nearly a quarter of a century later, these gaps are coming back to haunt Palestinians.
The Oslo Accords, signed in the White House on September 13, 1993, and the Economic Protocol signed in Paris in 1994 have become a noose around the necks of Palestinians, legalising the theft of land and money.
The Oslo Accords which delineated the Occupied Territories into areas A, B and C, failed in putting a stop to the Israeli lust for Palestinian land. Without a clear clause calling for a settlement freeze and an end to further confiscation of land, the Palestinian-Israeli Memorandum of Understanding allowed the Israeli occupiers to continue building up and expanding Jewish-only settlements at the expense of lands that were supposed to be earmarked for the independent, contiguous and sovereign Palestinian state.
The number of settlers has tripled since 1993 and the encroachment on Palestinian lands using various legal and semi-legal (and at times outright illegal) Israeli methods has left the West Bank looking like swiss cheese. The pockets of Israeli colonies, illegal under international law, and outposts, which are illegal even by Israeli standards, are making Palestinian dreams of statehood nothing more than a mirage.
The Paris Protocols also had many major problems.
The Paris Protocol Agreement allows for Israel to continue controlling the borders, and therefore the goods that are imported or exported to the Palestinian market must go through Israel
The Palestinians are only allowed to collect value-added tax at a rate two percent less than the Israeli rate, despite the huge gap in per capita income between the two sides - $5,000 per Palestinian compared with $35,000 per Israeli, according to the IMF.
 
Arafat, Peres and Rabin all won
Nobel prizes for the Oslo Accords [Getty]


But Palestinians and Israelis must pay basically the same costs for energy and food.
The Paris Protocol Agreement allows for Israel to continue controlling the borders, and therefore the goods that are imported or exported to the Palestinian market must go through Israel.

Israel collects taxes and fees on behalf of Palestinian officials and is supposed to turn those fees over to the Palestinian government on a regular basis.
While the Paris Protocols fail to give Palestinians the freedom to reflect the huge economic disparity between Israelis and Palestinians it has also become a political tool, allowing Israel to withhold Palestinian taxes for a variety of political reasons, and as a mean of exacting a political price.
Most recently the Paris Protocols were abused even further. They are no longer merely a tool of economic repression - now the Israeli government is in the process of deducting up to $300 million a year from the taxes and custom fees collected on behalf of Palestinians - ostensibly clawing back the contribution the Palestinian government gives to the welfare funds of prisoners and families of those who have been killed in the occupation.
The continuation of the occupation and the lopsided temporary agreements that have dragged on for decades have played into the hands of the Israeli occupiers
This fund was created with the approval of western donor countries - including the US - who accepted the argument that having the prisoners on the Palestinian government payroll was the best way to guarantee they wouldn't become "radicalised".

Palestinian Minister of Finance and Planning Shukry Bishara wrote as much in an op-ed for The Hill in February 2016, and it has never been contested by either the US or any other western donor.
The fact is that the continuation of the occupation and the lopsided temporary agreements that have dragged on for decades have played into the hands of the Israeli occupiers who are unable to restrain their desire for Palestinian land. Not only has Israel benefited financially from its occupation and the economic monopoly it has over Palestinians, but the latest law that has now passed the first legislative hurdle in the Israeli Knesset warns of a new form of robbery.

Not only is the Israeli occupation stealing Palestinian lands, if the latest bill becomes law we will face a situation of Israeli theft expanding from stealing Palestinian lands to stealing Palestinian money.

And the most worrisome fact is that the world is watching as Israel continues to plunder the Palestinian territories and steal Palestinian cash.



Daoud Kuttab is an award-winning Palestinian journalist and former Ferris Professor of Journalism at Princeton University. 

Follow him on Twitter: @daoudkuttab


Opinions expressed in this article remain those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The New Arab, its editorial board or staff.

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