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Vice President Joe Biden arrived in Israel today. Biden will spend two days in the Jewish state and the territories under Palestinian control and will talk to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas about the frozen peace process. However, no new initiative is expected to solve the current stalemate Israeli media reported.
Some pundits say this could be a sign the Obama administration realizes that any new initiative at this point is bound to fail. But others think Washington has adopted the European approach toward the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.
The EU has placed the blame for the deadlock in the negotiations on a solution for the century-old-conflict squarely on Israel’s shoulders and is pressuring Israel via measures that resemble a boycott.
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The EU and the U.S. now require labeling of products manufactured in territories that came under Israeli control in 1967 during the Six Day War as not made in Israel. In addition, the French government is organizing an international conference that aims to advance the so-called Two-State Solution.
Both initiatives have been welcomed by the Palestinian Authority but have been criticized by Israeli politicians across the political spectrum.
Biden will no doubt reiterate Obama’s position that progress must be made toward the Two-State Solution because the administration thinks the situation of the Palestinians is ‘intolerable.’
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Both Obama and Biden are advised to read a recent report published by The Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs (JCPA). The report deals with poverty versus luxury in the territories in Judea and Samaria that have been under the control of the Palestinian Authority since 1993.
The JCPA report contains data and images that make mincemeat of the claim that Palestinians ‘suffer on a daily basis’ because of the ‘occupation and the Israeli settlements’ as the Obama administration and a large part of the mass media, including The New York Times, want you to believe.
The issue of the myth of the Palestinian ‘suffering’ at the hands of Israel has once again become actual after U.N. Secretary General recently said that ‘despair’ among Palestinian Arabs lies at the root of their current terror war against Israel.
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President Obama has repeatedly said “the situation for the Palestinians is intolerable.” He said in November the United States will not turn its back “on the legitimate Palestinian aspiration for dignity, opportunity and a state of their own.”
Secretary of State John Kerry had earlier falsely claimed the explosion in Palestinian Arab terror attacks against Jews was due to “the massive increase in settlements over the course of the last years.”
“There’s an increase in the violence because there’s this frustration that’s growing,” Kerry said shortly after Palestinian Arabs escalated their terror attacks against Israel.
Those who examine the facts about the ‘growing frustration’ and the ‘intolerable situation’ in Palestinian society come to different conclusions and they are based on data.
Let us first take a look at Kerry’s claim that there has been a “massive increase in settlements over the course of the last years.”
The Israeli Central Bureau of Statistics has reported that since the years of the first Netanyahu administration and the government of Labor leader Ehud Barak, housing starts in Judea and Samaria (so-called West Bank) have decreased from 3,400 homes a year to 1,550 during the Netanyahu II and III governments. Moreover, almost all building in the so-called settlements took place only within the confines of existing Jewish villages and towns in Judea and Samaria or on zoned land of existing Jewish communities in the region.
Palestinian leaders often complain about the deplorable situation of the Palestinian population. Their favorite game is to paint a picture that resembles the suffering of European Jews during the Hitler era. This is the reason they like to take foreign visitors to so-called ‘refugee camps’ in territories under PA control. These ‘camps’ like Qalandiya north of Jerusalem or Dheisheh and Aida west of Bethlehem are inhabited by Palestinian Arabs, and they are administered by the Palestinian Authority.
So are the Arabs living in these ‘camps’ really refugees? The JCPA report gives the answer:
“As of July 1, 2014, 762,288 refugees were said to be living in 19 camps spread out in the West Bank. Over the past 67 years, the UN and the U.S. have poured billions into the camps to upgrade living conditions. What Palestinian advocates like to call “camp shelters” are typically 4-5 story concrete apartment buildings with electricity, kitchens, satellite television and municipal garbage collection. According to the UN, 99.8 percent of camp shelters are “connected to water networks” and 87 percent are “connected to sewerage networks,” the JCPA report reads while adding that 70 percent of the West Bank ‘refugees’ and their descendants now live outside the ‘camps.’
JCPA then explains why the Arabs living in these ‘camps’ are still referred to as ‘refugees,’
“The UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) defines Palestinians as ‘persons whose normal place of residence was Palestine during the period 1 June 1946 to 15 May 1948, and who lost both home and means of livelihood as a result of the 1948 conflict.’ The descendants of male Palestinian refugees, including adopted children, are also eligible for registration.
When the Agency began operations in 1950, it was responding to the needs of about 750,000 Palestine refugees. Today, some 5 million Palestine refugees are eligible for UNRWA services.
This unorthodox UNRWA definition of “refugee” eternalizes the Palestinian refugee problem. Sixty-three years is time enough for three, perhaps four, generations. Imagine the grandchildren or great-grandchildren of Jewish refugees who came to the U.S. after the Holocaust referring to themselves as refugees.”
“Moreover, given the UN definition of a refugee is someone ‘outside the country of his nationality,’ how can there be refugees living within the Palestinian Authority?” the authors of the report ask.
And what about Obama’s claim that the situation in the territories under Palestinian control is ‘intolerable?’ From the JCPA report emerges a different picture. The researchers at the Jerusalem-based Institute published a list of indicators that show that the quality of life in Palestinian society is often better than most Arab countries:
Since the establishment of Palestinian self-rule in the West Bank and Gaza in the mid-1990s, the U.S. government has committed approximately $5 billion in bilateral assistance to the Palestinians, who are among the world’s largest per capita recipients of international foreign aid. Overall, Palestinians receive approximately $2 billion in aid each year. Palestinian economic analysts estimate that the PA has received a total of $25 billion in financial aid during the past two decades.
The CIA World Factbook reported the poverty rate in the West Bank as 18 percent in 2011, in contrast to Israel’s poverty rate in 2012 of 21 percent.
In 2015, life expectancy in the West Bank was 76 years. This was notably higher than the life expectancy in Arab states of 71 years (in 2012), and the average life expectancy around the world of 70 years.
In 2015, the infant mortality rate in the West Bank and Gaza was 13 per 1,000 live births, compared with 27 per 1,000 live births in the Arab states in 2013 and 36.58 per 1,000 live births in the world in 2014.
In 2015, the literacy rate for people aged 15 and above in the West Bank and Gaza was 96.5%.
In 2011, when Palestinians were asked, “Are you satisfied or dissatisfied with the education system?” 63.5 percent answered “satisfied,” a higher percentage than the U.S. (62.8), Netherlands (60.3), Sweden (61.6) or Japan (54.6). The overall percentage in Arab states was 50.0 percent
The JCPA report also contains many photos that indicate the international media paint a completely one-sided picture about the quality of living in the PA-controlled territories.
Here’s, for example, a picture that you will see in the average paper in Europe and the U.S. It is the ‘refugee camp’ in Jenin, a Palestinian town in northern Samaria.
But this is ‘Palestine’ too.
The photo is taken in Ramallah and shows a building in the Al-Masyoun neighborhood.
And what to say about this mansion that is owned by a Palestinian businessman
“In communities throughout the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank, a surprising degree of luxury exists alongside the poverty. The truth is that alongside the slums of the old refugee camps, which the Palestinian government has done little to rehabilitate, a parallel Palestinian society is emerging.” The JCPA report concludes.