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William Bell in his letter “Deprivation in the West Bank” (Letters Extra, 4 January) fails to put matters into context. There is no evidence that water consumption in the settlements is the cause of poverty on the West Bank. I have personally seen many areas cultivated successfully by the local Arab population.
The very low figures cited for water usage by Palestinian Arabs are highly misleading as they fail to take into account any use of unmetered water such as wells and water holes.
Further, the Palestinian Arabs, unfortunately, have failed to maintain their infrastructure sufficiently, leading to significant water wastage, and have also refused to co-operate with Israel on partnership projects such as water recycling, resulting in a the loss of a huge quantity of water available for agriculture. For reference, more than 75per cent of Israeli agricultural water is from recycled supplies.
While the Christian Aid response refers to anecdotal “evidence” of the “mistreatment” of Palestinians, it strangely ignores statistical evidence showing that the Palestinian life expectancy, infant mortality ratio, literacy ratio, etc. have continuously improved in the past 40 years. How is a life span of 70 years for a Palestinian Arab consistent with “short-term survival”?
Your readers should be made aware of Christian Aid’s record of singling out Israel. In the last seven issues of Christian Aid News, more than 17 pages were devoted to Israel and Palestine, most of which involved the political criticism of Israel. Compare this to the next largest coverage being 4.5 pages dedicated to Angola and just 2.5 pages covering matters in Sudan, where more than two million people have died in civil wars over the last 20 years, and one can see why there is a question of anti-Israel bias.
Christian Aid has also militated for the suspension of European Union-Israel co-operation agreements and against Israel's admission to OECD. How is this not anti-Israel?
Mr Bell says that they work with "Israeli organisations", but these are openly anti-establishment organisations and there is no obvious attempt to work with other organisations that would provide a more balanced picture.
Finally, while Mr Bell claims that Christian Aid “responds to poverty”, maybe he can inform us as to what they are doing to alleviate the situation of the 1.7 million Israelis living in poverty today?
Frank Baigel, President, Jewish Representative Council of Greater Manchester and Region
As a member of Jews for Justice for Palestinians, I recognise Frank Baigel’s 4 January letter, "Israel’s record in the West Bank", as pure Israeli mythology.
It is totally untrue that Palestinian cars can be seen on roads in Israel and the West Bank. In 2009, the Israeli human rights organisation B’Tselem issued a report entitled “The Forbidden Roads: The Discriminatory West Bank Roads Regime”, which states that Palestinians are completely banned on many roads, and for others special permits must be obtained. It comments “The Forbidden Roads Regime is reminiscent of the apartheid system which existed in South Africa.”
There is no part of the West Bank where no Israelis can go, as stated by Mr Baigel. Illegal settlers often attack the indigenous population and uproot olive trees, while the police and army look on. The illegal settlers are under Israeli law, the Palestinians under harsh military law, and Jewish Israelis can attack Palestinians with impunity.
Contrary to Mr Baigel’s calculations, B’Tselem estimates that 180,000 Palestinians live in Area C, under full Israeli control. A 2009 report by the UN Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs states that the Israeli Civil Administration is responsible for issuing building permits, which it is almost impossible for Palestinians to obtain, all over the West Bank. There is also large-scale demolition of Palestinian homes as described by Elena Curti (The Tablet, 14 and 21 December).
As stated in her first article, "Land of No Milk and Honey", soldiers break into Palestinian homes in the middle of the night, deliberately damage or destroy the contents, and often children, (accused mainly of throwing stones) are taken away, the parents not told where they are being held, and cruelly treated. In June 2012 a report funded by the Foreign Office found that children are held in conditions that amount to torture.
In the face of a severe water shortage, as described by Mr Bell, the Israeli army deliberately destroys many Palestinian rainwater cisterns, on various pretexts.
Comparison with conditions in 1967 or with other Arab states today, as Mr. Baigel wishes, is totally irrelevant. Israel, as the occupying power, is entirely responsible for the welfare of the occupied population under the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949 - which also forbids settlements and the destruction of property. Israel is obviously failing miserably in its duty.
I recommend the Kairos Palestine Document to all readers - "A word of faith, hope and love from the heart of Palestinian suffering."
Beryl Maizels, Wembley, Middlesex