Caabu Director speaks at Prosper Palestine event on settlements
Chris Doyle, Caabu’s Director, spoke at a roundtable discussion in the House of Commons on the future of Israeli settlements hosted by Prosper Palestine. Also present on the panel of speakers were Palestinian Ambassador, Manuel Hassassian, Seth Brown, the director of Prosper Palestine, Haitham Kayyali, Director of the Human Rights NGO Alkarama, and Richard Burden MP, Chair of The Britain Palestine All-Party Parliamentary Group.
The event was part of Prosper Palestine’s campaign to support the Palestinian economy and highlight the effects of illegal Israeli settlement construction on the West Bank. Israel is the UK’s largest individual trading partner in the Middle East and North Africa, and aims to raise trade between the two countries to £3bn per year by 2012. Furthermore, the UK is Israel’s fourth largest export market in the EU, accounting for 3% of its exports in 2009.
Chris Doyle pointed that the settlement process was a colonial process that had been pushed by every single Israeli government, regardless of whether negotiations were proceeding or not. The rate of settlement building, 33% of which is on private Palestinian property (World Bank estimate), jeopardised a viable Palestinian economy. It was crucial to understand that the wall, the checkpoints, the earth mounds, the road systems were all a part of the settlement infrastructure and should not be considered separately. “Without the settlements none of these would be there”. Seph Brown pointed out that the 249 settlements render the Palestinian land to resemble a group of islands, where the agricultural land is completely dismembered and non-contiguous.
The Ambassador emphasised the fact that the success and viability of a Palestinian economy is fundamentally related to the issue of settlements and bypass roads, and that these infrastructures, which have been paid for by the international community and its involvement in trade with settlements, only serve to exacerbate the ‘Swiss cheese’ appearance of the landscape.
Prosper Palestine aims to reveal the considerable extent to which, through allowing its domestic market integration, trade and investment both from and to settlements, the UK is involved in sustaining the illegal Israeli occupation of Palestinian land. The initiative is producing groundbreaking research that will be distributed among supporters of Palestine and foreign policy centres to help promote the Palestinian issue in current political discourse. The Ambassador suggested that perhaps it is time to put the Palestinian issue back to the international community and implement UN Security Resolutions for a viable, sovereign Palestinian State.