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 Israeli restrictions, and cooperation to the benefit of both parties, all while preserving the independence and authority of each state to regulate its own internal affairs. To make this transition possible, a number of issues related to how the State of Israel and the independent State of Palestine will cooperate on state-to-state issues must be addressed, taking into consideration the ramifications of Israel’s long standing restrictions on these sectors on the Palestinian side.
Israel’s military occupation of almost five decades has had far-reaching effects on all aspects of Palestinian lives. The Israeli occupation implemented a series of measures and policies that resulted in a high level of 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:
For decades, Israeli restrictions, including those on access to land, freedom of movement and water availability, have limited Palestine’s ability to fully harness its territory’s substantial agricultural capacity. In the mid-1990s the agriculture sector contribution to GDP was over 11%, but since has suffered a very sharp decline over a short period of time, to only 4.1% in 2013. This sector is labor intensive and employs 14% of the total workforce in Palestine. It continues to be one of the pillars of the Palestinian economy, particularly in rural communities. It is therefore imperative that any permanent status agreement will ensure the ability to stabilize, grow and maximize the agricultural sector potential. This will require the availability of water resources, access to land, and ability to export to the Israeli, regional and international markets in an expedited manner.
Israel’s effective control over the occupied Palestinian territory has left it heavily dependent on Israel for supply of electricity and energy products. Palestine has no independent power generation capacity, save for the power plant in Gaza which has been directly targeted by Israel twice and currently produces only 60 MW operating on heavy and expensive fuel, rather than its full capacity of 140 MW if enabled to operate on natural gas. This is far below the current Palestinian demand estimated at 1100 MW, a demand which is expected to grow to 2400 MW by 2025. Rather Palestine is heavily reliant on supply of electricity from Israel through over 220 connection lines and the payment for this supply is unilaterally deducted from Palestinian tax revenues collected by Israel, without Palestinian agreement or oversight. Similarly, Palestine is solely dependent on Israel for the supply of petroleum products due to the inability to develop its own hydrocarbon resources as a result of Israeli restrictions. Any permanent status agreement must ensure Palestine’s ability to develop its own energy sector and production capacity, to ensure its energy security, while maintaining cooperation that is beneficial to both parties on an equal basis.
Israel has failed to make available to Palestine the radio frequencies required for the proper operation of mobile telephone companies and for the development of a fully competitive Palestinian telecommunications market. In fact, Israel has deliberately enabled 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.