In a permanent status setting of two states living side by side in peace and security, relations and cooperation in various sectors will be regulated on the basis of sovereign equality, ensuring the removal of long-standing impediments, and cooperation to the benefit of both parties, all while preserving the independence and authority of each state to govern its own internal affairs. To make this transition possible, a number of issues related to how the independent and sovereign State of Palestine and State of Israel will cooperate on the basis of equal and good neighborly relations.
Israel’s military occupation of five decades has had far-reaching effects on all aspects of Palestinian life. The Israeli occupation implemented a series of measures and policies that resulted in a high level of imposed Palestinian dependency on Israel in a number of sectors, has stifled the Palestinian economy and sustainable economic growth, and prevented it from realizing its full potential. Any permanent status agreement must end the forced economic reliance on Israel, and enable the realization of the full potential of the Palestinian economy and Palestinian rights, freedoms, and ability to regulate internal affairs as guaranteed to sovereign and independent states under international law.
An array of issues under the general category of State-to-State relations issues require detailed negotiation. These include:
Historically, and due to a diverse Palestinian topology and climatic variations, the agriculture sector has been one of the pillars of the Palestinian economy. It has played a vital role in contributing to the Palestinian GDP and generating job opportunities. In 1982, the sector contribution to the GDP reached nearly 30%, while the labor force reached approximately 17% in 2006. However, due to Israeli occupation policies and practices, agriculture share of total GDP has been in a steady decline over the past decades, falling to 3.4% and 2.9% in 2015 and 2016 respectively. In addition, the percentage of labor force dropped to lower than 9% in 2015. The chief cause of de-development of the agriculture sector has been attributed to Israeli restrictions, control of the vast majority of the lands and water resources, and Palestine’s ability to export to Israel and regional and international markets. However, despite the mentioned Israeli impediments, there are attempts by the State of Palestine in the cooperation with civil society and the international community to achieve a sustainable agriculture sector, capable of competing locally and globally. According to the National Strategy projection, it is expected that there will be a percentage increase in agricultural production value at constant prices by at least 10% by the end of 2022, in comparison to 2014.
Today, energy security is one of the major challenges posed by the ongoing Israeli occupation and considered an obstacle towards achieving sustainable economic independence. In effect, the Israeli control has left the Palestinian energy sector to be almost entirely reliant on energy imports. Almost 89% of total electricity supplies are purchased from Israel, whereas 3% comes from Jordan and Egypt. The only fossil fuel generated is in the Gaza power plant (GPP), which runs at half capacity and has been subject to multiple Israeli military attacks, rendering it completely inoperable on numerous occasions. According to the World Bank, Gaza’s annual energy demand is 450MW, by which, only 60 MW are produced by the already troubled GPP, 120 MW is imported from Israel, and around 30 MW from Egypt. The massive energy deficiency is expected to increase and reach 2400 MW in 2025, which requires that the State of Palestine develop multiple capacity projects. These include the development of alternative and renewable energy technologies such as power generators and sun-panels, in addition to the development of the Gaza Marine gas field and the Rantis oil project. Thus, any permanent status agreement must ensure Palestine’s ability to develop its own energy sector and production capacity, to guarantee energy security, while maintaining cooperation that is beneficial to both parties on an equal basis.
Contrary to the Oslo principles, Israel has repeatedly failed to fulfill its obligation towards enabling of an independent telecommunication sector. According to the agreement, “Israel recognizes that the Palestinian side has the right to build and operate separate and independent communication systems and infrastructures including telecommunication networks, a television network and a radio network.” For instance, Israel has delayed the 3G broadband - radio frequency installation in the West Bank and prevented it in Gaza, thus hindering Palestine’s access – a process of negotiation that took several years to conclude, which had already been agreed upon in the Oslo Accords. In addition, Israel has restricted the import and installation of microwave links and the import of civil and telecom material. It deliberately permitted and fully facilitated the illegal competition of Israeli cellular operators in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
Given the significance of the Holy Land to hundreds of millions of people worldwide, tourism and religious pilgrimage will be main contributors to Palestine’s GDP. To date, Israeli restrictions have resulted in Palestinian inability to fully realize the economic potential of this sector. The interrelated nature of tourist sites in Palestine and Israel requires coordination between both states on a tourism trade regime and arrangements governing the movement of tourists.
Since Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip in 1967, hundreds of Palestinian archaeological sites and cultural property have been systematically confiscated, looted and excavated by Israeli authorities, causing irreparable damage and loss to Palestinian cultural heritage. Confiscation and development of our heritage sites and cultural property is prohibited under customary international law and UNESCO conventions and protocols, including several that Israel has signed. Thus, Israel is directly violating its obligations and commitments under international legal instruments, which prohibit it from unilaterally developing and promoting Palestinian sites. An agreement on cultural heritage must ensure, among other issues, the return of all Palestinian cultural and archeological artifacts.