Monday, February 20, 2012

No more sustainable development for Palestinians?

In September 2010, PJA, along with Harvard College Palestine Solidarity Committee, Engineers without Borders, and J Street U Harvard, hosted an Israeli/Palestinian group called COMET-ME on campus. Founder of the organization Elad Orion spoke about his work building sustainable windmills and energy generators for Palestinian villages that lack electricity.

This work, done by a coalition of Israelis and Palestinians and funded predominantly by donations, improved the quality of life of Palestinian villagers in a sustainable and peace-building way.

We are frustrated to learn that the Israeli government will be shutting this program down. Read this powerful quote from a Der Speigel article:

The women here no longer have to make their butter by hand; they can refrigerate the sheep's cheese, which is their livelihood; and their children can do their homework at night. Now they can sit together and watch TV -- and connect to a world that seems far removed from their lives on the edge of the Judaean Desert. It is but a small revolution, achieved at little cost. But it is a good example of successful development aid.

The success, though, could soon be a thing of the past. Israel has threatened to tear them down with five municipalities in recent weeks having received "stop work" orders -- the first step on the road to demolition. The problem is that the facilities are in the so-called Area C, which covers 60 percent of the West Bank and is administered by Israel. Permission from the Israelis is a requirement before construction projects can move ahead -- and permits are almost never given to Palestinians.

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