Summary:  On May 9, 2007, the World Bank published a report entitled “Movement and Access Restrictions in the West Bank:  Uncertainty and Inefficiency in the Palestinian Economy.”  As the following analysis demonstrates, the claims made by the so-called "technical team" of  the World Bank’s report lack credibility, and are based entirely on the publications of a variety of highly politicized groups and NGOs, including B’Tselem, Peace Now, HaMoked, Bimkom, Amnesty International, and UN OCHA.  Furthermore, this report only focuses on one dimension of the complex issues that are involved. The authors briefly note that "Israel had legitimate reasons to take steps to protect its citizens from violence", but then dismiss the implications of this central point. As a result, the allegations and analysis contained in this report cannot reliably be used by policy makers attempting to deal with the challenges posed by the combination of ongoing Palestinian violence and economic crisis. In addition, this report is inconsistent with the World Bank's apolitical humanitarian mission, and reflects negatively on this institution.

This report purporting to examine economic conditions of Palestinian in the West Bank is composed entirely of claims and allegations from various other sources, primarily politicized NGOs and OCHA (the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs), with the addition of some newspaper reports and partial quotes from Israeli government documents.  This report contains no original research by the World Bank. Of the 71 footnotes, 22 cite B'tselem claims; 6 are based on Peace Now's political publications; with many others based on Hamoked, OCHA, Yesh Din, Bimkom, and Amnesty International.  In addition, the journalistic publications cited in this report are themselves based on the allegations made by these NGOs and by OCHA. 

These organizations all have a long history of one-sided and inaccurate reporting, reflecting political and ideological bias.  B’Tselem and Hamoked, which are repeatedly cited in the World Bank publication, have issued a number of reports with allegations that were shown to be invalid.  For example, the jointly published report of May 6, 2007, entitled "Utterly forbidden: The Torture and Ill-Treatment of Palestinian Detainees" used misleading methodology and had no verifiable sources.  As shown in a detailed rebuttal published by the Israeli Ministry of Justice, the B’Tselem/HaMoked report is “fraught with mistakes, groundless claims, and inaccuracies.” The MOJ notes that the report

refers to a group which is named in the report as ‘ordinary’ detainees, concerning interogatees which were arrested between 13 -17 of July 2005 when on the day of July 12, 2005, there was a terrorist attack in the city of Netanya, that caused the death of five people and the injury of many others . . . as a result of the interrogations, the perpetrators of the attack . . . were exposed.  In addition, more terrorist units were exposed and weapons that were to be put to use in future terrorist attacks were handed over.

Thus, in basing its reports entirely on the claims of these NGOs, the World Bank has also produced a report that lacks credibility.

One of many examples of the faulty methodology and lack of credibility in this World Bank report can be seen in Section 27 (pp.9-10) which asserts claims: "These findings are reinforced by another recent study funded by the New Israel Fund and the British Embassy in Tel Aviv and conducted by the Israeli organization, Bimkom…." However, the World Bank's "technical team" did not directly cite and may not have read this report.  Instead, the quote is taken from a newspaper article (The Independent -UK) which reflected a politically biased presentation.  The Bimkom report makes the ideological allegation that the separation barrier is “focused almost exclusively on the desire to maintain the fabric of life of Israeli settlers,” which is not a fact and source based analysis.

In addition to such politicized NGOs, the World Bank publication also relies heavily on OCHA (the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs) for many of its allegations.  However, an examination of OCHA staff and reports suggest that this organization is also highly politicized and its reports lack credibility.  For example, the World Bank report repeats OCHA's claim that there are 546 "non-fixed Israeli barriers in the West Bank.”  In contrast, according to Deputy Defense Minister Ephraim Sneh, the actual number is far less.  "The World Bank report uses data of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs [OCHA], which is inclined to count every opening in the separation fence, checkpoints on the Green Line, and every two rocks on the road as roadblocks in the West Bank." (Avi Issacharoff "Sneh: World Bank report slamming Israel is one-sided", Haaretz , 13 May 2007.)

OCHA's biases and inherent lack of credibility reflect those of its employees, including Allegra Pacheco, who heads the Information and Advocacy unit at the UNOCHA in Jerusalem.  Before taking this position, Ms. Pacheco was deeply involved in radical anti-Israel campaigning, and this ideology and core bias is reflected in OCHA's publications, including ReliefWeb, which helps give additional publicity to claims by politicized NGOs, (as documented by NGO Monitor).  Many of Pacheco's speeches and writings including oped articles use the rhetoric of demonization to refer to Israel, such as "apartheid", "collective punishment", etc., while blatantly erasing the context of Palestinian terror.   In September 2000, Pacheco addressed a pro-Palestinian political rally in Washington DC, whose official slogan was "No Return = No Peace" and urged the dismantling of the Jewish state.  Pacheco called for the abolition of Israel, declaring "The solution is Awda, complete and unrestricted return to Palestine, all of it from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea. [1]

The Israeli political organization known as "Peace Now" (and funded by various European governments and other donors) is another source used by the World Bank.  In October 2006, this NGO published “Breaking the Law – One Violation Leads to Another,” falsely asserting that “a large proportion of the settlements built on the West Bank are built on privately owned Palestinian land.” As initially pointed out by media accountability organization CAMERA, this report is based not on research regarding land ownership, but relies only on Palestinian claims to such rights.  Many of the claims, such as those made by the Jahalin Bedouin on Ma’ale Adumim, were examined and rejected by Israeli courts long ago.  As a result, Peace Now's allegation that Ma’ale Adumim sits on 86.4% Palestine land stands in stark contrast to the revised information indicating that only 0.54% of the land is Palestinian.  Peace Now admitted these core errors, but also claimed credit for the resulting “media whirlwind”. Similarly, in repeating such false reports, officials at the World Bank are also primarily seeking to create publicity, at the expense of credibility.

In summary, this report published by the World Bank is a political document which is based entirely on claims and allegations published by NGOs and other groups that lack credibility.  The allegations and analysis provided by the World Bank cannot reliably be used by policy makers attempting to deal with the challenges posed by the combination of ongoing Palestinian violence and economic crisis. In addition, this report is inconsistent with the World Bank's apolitical humanitarian mission, and reflects negatively on this institution.

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Note: The authors of this report are identified only in terms of a "World Bank Technical Team", the content is highly political, reflecting references to events, negotiations and agreements going back to 1949.  Much of this content is incomplete and/or misleading, reflecting the absence of detailed knowledge or deliberate bias on the part of the members of this "technical team".  For example, this report cites various agreements out of context, and many of the details are inaccurate.  The so-called "Oslo Accords" are in fact a series of agreements beginning with the 1993 Declaration of Principles and followed by a series of interim documents which were predicated on negotiations towards a permanent status agreement and a cessation of violence and incitement by the Palestinians, none of which were implemented.  Similarly, the terms of the November 2005 "Agreement on Movement and Access" were violated within a few days of the signing ceremony.  The references to the 2003 "Mitchell report" ("Report of the Sharm el-Sheikh Fact Finding Committee") and the "Road Map" proposals remove both the context of the ongoing mass terror attacks and the failure of the Palestinian side to implement any of its security obligations. 

 

Footnotes:

1.  From "al-Majdal", (quarterly magazine of the BADIL Resource Center), September 2000, and cited in http://www.eyeontheun.org/assets/attachments/misc/2006_UN-NGO_Report.pdf