Palestinian Memorandum on the Israeli Siege and Strangulation of the Palestinian Territory, People and Economy

Israeli policy and measures concerning the movement of persons and goods within the Palestinian territory, as well as into and out of that territory, are synonymous to the imposition of a siege on the Palestinian territory and the strangulation of the Palestinian people and their economy. This policy is much more complex than the initial perception of closure as that entailing the closure of the Israeli borders with the Palestinian territory. The following are the various aspects of such a complex policy.

1) Restrictions on freedom of movement within the Palestinian territory itself, cordoning off areas, including movement between towns, villages and cities.

In the West Bank, this aspect of the policy has recently been carried through in a way never seen since the beginning of the occupation in 1967. Needless to say, it has made the lives of the people unbearable, paralyzing daily life at all levels.

In the Gaza Strip, the Israeli army has obstructed the coastal road, interrupting its continuity. The army has also imposed restrictions on roads within the yellow area and has repeatedly imposed restrictions on movement along the main north-south road of the Gaza Strip. These actions directly violate the agreements between the two parties related to the Gaza Strip.

2) Interruption of the continuity of the Palestinian territory as well as restrictions on entry into occupied East Jerusalem.

The discontinuity of the Palestinian territory is the result of a lack of compliance by the Israeli side with regard to the establishment of a "safe passage" between Gaza and Jericho during the first stage of implementation of the agreements between the two parties and Gaza and the West Bank in the second stage. It is aggravated by the imposition, on a continuous basis, of restrictions on movement of persons and goods between the West Bank and Gaza, which are viewed as a single territorial unit by the two parties to the Declaration of Principles of 1993.

Israeli measures making Jerusalem off-limits to the Palestinian people and imposing stringent restrictions on their entry into the city have created enormous problems for them given the special status of the city as the religious, commercial and cultural center for the Palestinian people.

The territorial continuity and smooth movement within and throughout the Palestinian territory is a sine qua non for the building of a viable Palestinian economy. By imposing an opposite situation, Israel is in essence negating all efforts towards the development and stabilization of the Palestinian economy.

3) Closure of the Israeli border to Palestinian persons and goods from the West Bank and Gaza and prevention of the entry of Israeli goods into the Palestinian territory or parts of it, as well as restrictions on the movement of foreigners between Israel on the one hand and, at least, Gaza on the other.

This closure has been the cause of great damage to the Palestinian economy since it is applied in most cases to both persons and goods, even those destined for or originating from a third party. It has become a source of extreme hardship for a large segment of the population, especially the Palestinian workers who depend on Israeli jobs. Throughout the years of occupation, Israel used Palestinian workers as a source of cheap labor on a large scale to augment Israeli economic benefits. Preventing those workers from reaching their jobs now constitutes a denial of Israel's continuing responsibilities until a different Palestinian economy is built. In addition, the closure is the cause of suffering and hardship in various specific fields such as that of medical service and treatment. The whole practice, while carried through by the Israelis on the grounds of security concerns, violates the agreements between the two sides and it is destructive and cannot be seriously justified.

4) Closure of the borders of the West Bank and Gaza with Jordan and Egypt respectively, including the movement of persons and goods which are legally being imported by Palestinian merchants, severing any links between the Palestinian territory and the outside world and effectively isolating it from neighboring countries.

Such a measure terminates any existing trade potential and, coupled with the above-mentioned closure, it results in even serious shortages in essential, daily living materials such as foodstuffs and medicines.

This outrageous aspect of the Israeli policy is totally contradictory to the agreements reached and has no relation whatsoever to the concept of making peace. It is a way of bullying the Palestinian people and imposing Israeli will using military means.

In short, the above-mentioned measures of this Israeli policy have been causing great harm to the Palestinian people. Further, this policy constitutes a form of collective punishment of the Palestinian people and it is illogical and has no serious justification. This policy and its measures gravely violate the agreements between the two sides and seriously undermine the peace process and its future. They must be brought to an immediate end.