July 04, 2020

The agricultural sector in the Palestinian NGOs Network warns against the dangers of annexation and calls for strengthening the farmers’ steadfastness in their lands.

The agricultural sector in the Palestinian NGOs Network warns against the dangers of annexation and calls for strengthening the farmers’ steadfastness in their lands.

The Israeli occupation insists on moving forward with the annexation of parts of the occupied West Bank lands, within the plans of gradual dispossession of the Palestinian land and the forced displacement of the Palestinian people, the latest of which is the annexation of the Jordan Valley and the so-called major settlement blocs in the West Bank.

The Israeli occupation increases systematic practices against people, land, and Palestinian resources, from land confiscation, tightening control over natural resources, demolition of homes and economic establishments, ethnic cleansing of the population, displacement, economic deprivation, detention and torture, undermining the economy, food insecurity, and continuing the unjust blockade of the Gaza Strip.

The land of the Jordan Valley exposed to annexation is estimated at 26% of the West Bank, and constitute 50% of the food basket of the Palestinian people, contain groundwater basins and are rich in mineral salts. In the Gaza Strip, the Israeli occupation denied access to 18% of the arable land on the eastern and northern borders of the Gaza Strip under the pretext of security isolation. Furthermore, exercising all forms of restrictions and repression against fishermen through arrest, confiscation of fishing boats, restriction of fishing zone,  in addition to the continued isolation of the entire Gaza Strip.

The annexation plan which is supported by the United States administration constitutes a real threat to the chances of establishing an independent and sustainable Palestinian state in accordance with international legitimacy and represented a flagrant violation of the rights to Palestinian people. It also poses a great economic threat especially to farmers. The Israeli violations against the Palestinian people continued for more than 50 years and includes confiscation of land and natural resources, settlers’ attacks, home demolitions, forced evictions and displacement of people, economic deprivation and extreme poverty, restrictions movement of people and goods, arbitrary detention, lack of freedoms, arrest and torture, and absence of food security.

UN reports clarified that lack of stability and economic progress in the occupied Palestinian territories is due to the Palestinian people’s inability to control their resources and denied the right to self-determination. The annexation project, if implemented, carries real risks on the Palestinian economy, which is already suffering due to the continued seizer of the tax “clearance” money. These measures will cause severe damage to the economic situation, especially on the Palestinian agricultural sector.

The contribution of the agricultural sector to Palestine’s GDP has declined from 36% in the 1970s to about 3% in 2018, and the agricultural sector’s budget remains the least across sectors. In 2018, the agricultural sector’s budget did not exceed 1% of the total public budget, which indicates a serious failure to strengthen the farmers’ steadfastness to achieve an increase in the Palestinian production and sovereignty over food. Besides, there is a constant decline in the percentage of workers in agricultural activity, whereas in 2010 it was around 14%, declined to 6.7% in 2017. The agricultural sector recorded the lowest daily wage rate of 73 NIS in the West Bank and 21 NIS in the Gaza Strip. This weakens the agricultural sector and lead to our farmers’ inability to apply the concept of food sovereignty as part of the right to self-determination and is considered the main cause of poverty, unemployment and food insecurity.

While our people are united in the face of the colonial annexation plan, the Palestinian Authority, civil organizations and private sectors are required to provide financial funds for intervention to strengthen farmers’ steadfastness, protect the land from confiscation and Judaization, and organize a series of activities at the international level not only to reject the decision of annexation and racial expansion but a victory for the rights of our people to self-determination and farmers’ rights to strengthen their steadfastness. Also, the agricultural sector calls upon popular movements supporting the Palestinian cause to issue positions that reject the annexation process and affirm the Palestinian people’s rights to sovereignty over their land and natural resources guaranteed by international resolutions and pressure their governments to take clear positions to reject the annexation and support the Palestinian people.

Additionally, the agriculture sector in the Palestinian NGOs Network calls upon the Palestinian government to grant the vulnerable areas and other gatherings affected by the annexation process, a number of facilities and exemptions, reduce prices and service fees in order to motivate residents, farmers, and the private sector to steadfast on their land and maintain their agricultural activities and investments.

Furthermore, the agriculture sector in PNGO is calling upon civil society organizations and social movements that are supportive of the rights of farmers to stand by farmers who are exposed to the risks of annexation, starvation, and poverty to push them to emigrate their lands.

Finally, the agricultural sector in the Palestinian NGOs Network calls upon the international community to undertake its legal, political, moral and official responsibilities to defend human rights, the basic principles of international law and implement international resolutions to stop the Israeli occupation violations of human rights and international resolutions. Also, demands that all countries that believe in justice and peace not to recognize or assist in any way illegal activities, which includes the Israeli occupation annexation project and building more settlements in the occupied territories, the confiscation of land, or the demolition of homes and Palestinian structures, fighting Palestinian farmers in their land and water, and its products, in accessing production inputs, both plant and animal, attacking fishermen and their boats, and many other obstacles that the occupation, its military apparatus, and settlers are creating in order to constrict the Palestinian people.

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