Sunday, July 24, 2005

Israel's Gaza withdrawal -- encouraging development

Via Jonathan Edelstein, this...

Most of the 450 farmers of Gush Katif have signed an agreement with the World Bank to leave their greenhouses to the Palestinians for a payment of $4,000 per dunam.
Sources in the Agriculture Ministry said last Thursday that each farmer would be paid an average of $40,000, with which he would be able to build new greenhouses similar to the ones left behind in Gush Katif.
The money from the World Bank will finance some 25 percent of the cost of building a new greenhouse.
According to the cabinet's decision, 66 percent of the investment would be financed with the compensation fees, 25 percent would be financed by the Agriculture Ministry and 9 percent would be financed by the farmers themselves. The overall cost of rebuilding the greenhouses is estimated at $80 million.

The farmers explained their decision to leave their greenhouses intact in Gush Katif, saying that taking them apart involves hard work, as the greenhouses are old and their equipment has eroded. Taking a greenhouse apart and reconstructing it is a lengthy process and requires a great deal of skill, they said.
Agriculture Minister Yisrael Katz argued against leaving the greenhouses to the Palestinians. Katz said in the cabinet that doing so would lead to a tough competition between Palestinian and Israeli produce in Europe's markets.
The World Bank payment will cover the whole of the farmers' own investment in the building of new greenhouses, leaving them a $1,500 charge for each greenhouse dunam they build.
The greenhouses will be built on farming land south and east of Ashkelon purchased by the Agriculture Ministry for this purpose from neighboring farming communities.

His comment:

This arrangement, which was made jointly by the Israeli government and the World Bank, will be a step toward making Gaza economically viable, which will be key to maintaining its stability after the evacuation. Another critical need - housing - may also be resolved with the aid of the UAE, which has announced plans to build a city on the site of the Gush Katif settlements at a cost of $100 million. The UAE's plan will, in all likelihood, tip the scales in favor of demolishing the existing houses rather than leaving them intact and, as a side effect, may lead to the upgrading of the UAE's relationship with Israel. However divisive the withdrawal has become on both sides of the border, there will still be opportunities to be seized afterward.

* * * *
This is a good place to link, once again, Alaa the Mesopotamian, whose most recent post of a couple of weeks ago soared into space with a dream so fanciful that I try not to allow myself to think about it. Remember, now, this is being written by an Iraqi:
...I have the greatest respect and reverence for a people who have given human civilization so much and who were the original monotheists and the first Abrahamites; and that the recent troubles and tragedies of the twentieth century should not obscure and overshadow the thousands of years of glorious history. And you know, the real ethnic Jew and the real ethnic Arab definitely have a common ancestry; this so-called Semitic race, though this does not seem to have resulted in any particular love between the twain. And more; we know for certain from our own knowledge of ourselves, that there are certain traits of character that are quitecommon to both. You see, the true Semitic character is very passionate and intense and tends to be very, very obstinate. The Jews are a particular race of Semites steeled and distilled by many centuries of struggle for survival in hostile environments, who have managed by shear obstinacy to preserve their religious and cultural identity despite tremendous odds and extreme persecution, for thousands of years.
What has reminded me of this right now in the present situation is a sentence of Isaac Deutscher which I can never forget. It goes something like this: “God help those whom the Jews take it into their head to be their enemies!! “ What is so striking about this sentence is that it applies precisely to the Arabs as well. You may draw your own inferences from this which may throw some light on the madness that is going on in these days.
It has struck me suddenly, that perhaps one of the main mystic keys to defusing the whole thing is to bring about a real historic reconciliation between these two surviving branches of the Semitic race, and I don’t mean just solving the Israeli-Palestinian problem, but something far more profound than that. Is this not the real challenge for the non-Semitic western broker, for his own peace and safety, if not for anything else?
Salaam, Shalom
[And if you really want to get stuck, delve into the comments thread that follows this post. Plenty to chew on there...]

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