Foreign Ministry report details cooperation between Israel, PA in terms of medical treatment for Palestinians in Israel, security coordination, employment opportunities for Palestinians.
Nearly 200,000 West Bank Palestinian patients and those accompanying them were granted permits in 2011 for medical treatment in Israel, a 13 percent increase from 2010, according to a Foreign Ministry report.
The report, entitled “Measures Taken by Israel in Support of Developing the Palestinian Economy and Socio-Economic Structure,” will be submitted Wednesday to the Palestinian donors’ conference meeting in Brussels.
In addition, according to the report, some 21,500 Palestinian children from the West Bank were treated in Israeli hospitals last year, a 171% increase from the year before.The 44-page report documents areas of Israeli-Palestinian cooperation in a number of health, economic, and security spheres.
For instance, despite the stymied political process and the tense relationship between the government and the Palestinian Authority, in 2011 some 764 joint security meetings were held, a 5% increase over the year before.
The donors’ conference, formally know as the Ad-Hoc Liaison Committee (AHLC), will be chaired by EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, and presided over by Norwegian Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Store.
The AHLC was established in 1993 during the Oslo process heydays, and is the principal policy level coordinating mechanism for international aid to the Palestinians.
According to the report, “maintaining security and preventing terrorism is critical in order to promote stability and economic development on the ground.” Despite improved security coordination and “relative calm,” 2011 saw a 10% rise in overall terrorist incidents coming from the West Bank, and also an increase in the number of Israelis killed in terrorist attacks from eight people in 2010, to 10 in 2011.
By contrast, in 2002, at the height of the second intifada, some 452 Israelis were killed in terrorist attacks.
According to the report, the Israel Security Agency “noted that during 2011, Hamas has been trying to rehabilitate its military infrastructure in the West Bank in order to carry out attacks against Israeli targets. The Hamas leadership abroad has provided funding, guidance and training for the establishment of terrorist infrastructure. Hamas in the Gaza Strip has been involved as well, attempting to move weaponry into the West Bank and providing funding for terrorist activities.”
Not all the security cooperation, however, dealt with terrorism, and according to the report three study days – in cooperation with the EU – were held between Israeli and Palestinian police dealing with routine police work, such as evidence gathering and dealing with drug trafficking. Meetings were also held between the head of the Israeli police unit combating auto theft, and the investigations department in the Palestinian police dealing with “chop shops” where stolen cars are disassembled and their parts resold.
In the economic sphere the report pointed out that after three years of rapid economic growth in the West Bank, there was a slowdown in the first three quarters of 2011. Unemployment there runs at 17 %, with that rate at 20% among those with academic degrees.
By contrast, in the Gaza Strip the real GDP climbed by 25.8% in the first three quarters of 2011, due in large part to the Israel’s policy of easing up on what is allowed in and out of Gaza.
The PA is also facing a fiscal crisis caused to a large extent – but not exclusively – by a shortfall in donor aid.
“The fiscal crisis is especially acute because much of the West Bank economy still depends on the public sector and on construction projects, both still heavily financed by foreign aid,” the report stated. “It also serves as an alarming warning sign for the stability of the Palestinian economy.”
Calling into question the PA’s fiscal management, and its readiness for statehood, the report said that there were “deviations in the Palestinian 2011 budget,” as the Palestinians spent more on development expenditures than was available.
“The public finance management system’s role in the current crisis may undermine its track record as a system that meets the requirements of a well-functioning state,” the report stated.
According to the report, the number of Palestinians employed in Israel and by Israeli employers in the West Bank continues to rise.
In 2011 some 31,414 Palestinians worked in Israel. This, however, is just a small percentage of the number that used to work in Israel before various waves of terrorism. For instance, until a wave of Palestinian knife attacks on Israel in early 1993, an estimated 140,000 Palestinian day laborers worked inside the Green Line.
The tax that Israel collects at the ports and then transfers to the PA reached NIS 5 billion this year, an increase of almost 6% from the year before. This is money that generally makes headlines when it is held up by Israel, as was done in November when Jerusalem delayed the transfer of these funds after the PA won membership into UNESCO.
According to the report, Israeli purchases from the PA constituted about 90 percent of all Palestinian exports. Overall trade with the PA (goods and services) totaled $4.3 billion, with Israel buying $815 million from the PA, and selling $3.49 billion.