Masthead graphic based on a painting by Gudrun Thriemer.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Vasilena Todorova, "Jeffrey Sachs: U.S. failed Palestine once again," IMEMC News, June 26, 2007.

The leading American economist Jeffrey Sachs criticized the U.S. and Israel for the collapse of the Palestinian government and the current unrest in Gaza in an opinion article he published in The Jordan Times over the weekend.

U.S. and Israeli policies supporting one faction, Fatah, while deeply isolating the other, Hamas, have been in contradiction to the democratic process in the region that both nations ardently promote, said Sachs. While President Bush encouraged Palestinian democracy, He openly favored Fatah in the elections of January 2006. When Hamas won, the US and Israel immediately cut off funds to the newly elected government, including even Israel's transfer of Palestine's own customs revenues, which Israel collects as the occupying authority in control of the borders, said Sachs. Such policies set the course for a violent upset in the occupied territories.

"It is important that we recognize the source of America's failure, because it keeps recurring, making peace between Israel and Palestine more

difficult," said Sachs. "The roots of failure lie in the US and Israeli governments' belief that military force and financial repression can lead to

peace on their terms, rather than accepting a compromise on terms that the Middle East, the rest of the world and, crucially, most Israelis and

Palestinians, accepted long ago."

Sachs suggested that one realistic possibility for peace would be Israel's return to its 1967-borders and economic arrangements for a viable Palestinian state including access to trade routes, water supplies, and other essential needs. Despite discussions and promises in the past decade, Israel has clearly refused to withdraw to these borders and to recognize the political pressure of the hundreds of thousands of settlers in Palestinian territories, the economist argued. In past peace discussions the U.S. and Israel have managed to come up with plans to protect and sustain the existence of these illegal compounds, especially those in the West Bank, according to Sachs.

Despite Israel's formal withdrawal from Gaza, the state has complete control over the borders, infrastructure, taxation, and conducts regular

military incursions in the Strip, said Sachs. U.S. and Israeli politics have pinned the two leading forces in Palestine against each other, have further separated Gaza from the West Bank, and have trapped ordinary Palestinians in a state of chaos and escalating violence.

"The problem is that hatred and demographic changes are making, many people believe, even the two-state solution impossible," said Sachs. "My view is that a two-state solution of peace and mutual respect remains possible, but perhaps for not much longer."


A special advisor to UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan and his successor Ban Ki-moon, Jeffrey Sachs has been an economic advisor to governments in Latin America, Eastern Europe, the former Soviet Union, Asia, and Africa. He was also the director of the UN Millennium Project. His work focuses on problems of poverty, international debt, disease control for the developing world.
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