Israel Urged To Confront West Bank Economic Issues

Israel is coming under extednsive pressure from the world community to implement new policies governing the daily lives of Muslim inhabitants of the West Bank. President Bush is expected in Israel within a few weeks, and nations are suggesting Israel might strengthen his ability to impact blocked Israel and Palestinian negoatiations if there was a significant effort to revitalize the West Bank economy. A new report from the World Bank reported zero growth in 2007 for the West Bank and blamed as a contribution factor “effects of the closures and movement restrictions.” The report noted the almost complete collapse of the West Bank economy was dramatically impacted by the growth in checkpoints. Even Tony Blair has recommended action on this key issue.

There is growing support among the International Quartet of nations to designate areas of the West Bank in which Palestinian forces would be trained to assume responsibility for ensuring safety and peace. One possible location is the northern West Bank city of Jenin in which 700 Palestinian security forces have been trained by American and Jordan supervisors.

On one hand, Israel complains about security issues, on the other hand, it refuses to sanction any experiments in which Palestinians assume responsibility for maintaining law and order. Unless experiments are attempted the present stalemate will continue into the forseeable future and at some point the Abbas government will be forced to resort to militant action. Of course, at that point, Israel will blame Palestinians and never assume responsibility for its own lack of action as a cause of militancy.