Gaza, ALRAY - The UK-based organization Oxfam issued a new fact sheet titled 20 facts: 20 years since the Oslo Accords on the 20th anniversary of the Oslo peace accords, outlining how life has got worse for Palestinians in the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem since the Oslo peace process began.
A brief summary of the fact sheet has been published on Oxfam's website as follows:
Life for millions of Palestinians is worse now than it was 20 years ago, as the government of (Israel) has expanded its settlements in occupied territory and increased its control over Palestinian land and lives.
Since 1993, Israel has doubled the number of settlers from 260,000 to over 520,000 and expanded the area controlled by settlements to over 42 percent of Palestinian land. A system of checkpoints and other restrictions on Palestinian movement and trade has divided families and decimated the economy.
The agency warned a similar pattern is already emerging during the current peace talks. In the past six weeks, Israel has approved the construction of at least 3,600 more settlement homes in the West Bank and East Jerusalem and demolished at least 36 Palestinian homes. In the past 20 years, Israel has demolished 15,000 Palestinian buildings, including homes, water systems and agricultural facilities.
“The hope that the Oslo process brought has come crashing down with two decades of obstruction and broken promises. While parties are negotiating peace, actions on the ground are making the lives of Palestinian civilians in particular ever more difficult, and jeopardizing the chance of reaching a solution. A peace process naturally calls for give and take from all parties, but it is Palestinian civilians who have overwhelmingly paid the cost,” said Nishant Pandey, head of Oxfam in the Occupied Palestinian Territory and Israel.
Actions over past 20 years have impeded the Palestinian economy to a cost of hundreds of millions of dollars a year. The Gaza economy alone has lost around $76 million annually as up to 35 percent of its agricultural land is prevented from being cultivated, and the government of Israel has reduced the waters available to Palestinian fishermen from the 20 nautical miles agreed at Oslo to just six nautical miles today. Exports from Gaza have dropped by 97 percent since the economic blockade was put in place in 2007.
The breakdown of the Oslo Accords created the ground for the Second Intifada, which killed thousands of people, the majority Palestinians. Clashes between Palestinian militants in Gaza and Israeli forces continue to kill and threaten civilians on both sides.
The Oslo process divided Palestinian territory into Areas A, B and C for a period of five years. 20 years later, Israel retains complete control over Area C, which makes up 61 percent of the West Bank. Less than one percent of this area is available for Palestinian development and more than 94 percent of Palestinian construction permit applications have been rejected in recent years.