Monthly Archives: April 2013
Often in debates about public funds, there will be arguments along the lines of ‘why are you spending £10 million on x, when that could be used to pay for y which has a much greater marginal utility.’ However, as far as I’m aware there isn’t an easily accessible and exhaustive list of public pricings for different public policy choices- even budget papers require a lot of interrogation to get to allow you to get to useful comparison points.
That’s why the Guardian’s piece today on 23 things you could pay for with £10 million could be very useful. Even more useful is the spreadsheet at the end of the document, which gives the unit cost of a whole range of public and private goods, from teachers’ wages to house prices to energy bills to Prince Charles.
The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) provides some useful factual resources for people who want to learn more about the situation in Palestine.
Their factsheets give useful statistical information on the humanitarian impact of the occupation of the West Bank and the blockade of Gaza. Their maps plot out the increasing division of the West Bank (through settlements, checkpoints, roads, the wall and other de facto barriers) which are making a Palestinian state less and less viable. And their presentations give a useful summary of the key issues facing the Palestinian populations in Gaza, the West Bank and in East Jerusalem.
OCHA also produces a weekly monitor report on the impact of the occupation on civilians. They’re usually quite short and packed with useful information.
As a taster for those wanting to find out more about the Palestinian situation, I’d recommend the following:
Here are a few fact sheet extracts to get you started:
- Around 293,000 Palestinians currently reside in East Jerusalem, in addition to 200,000 Israeli settlers who reside in the settlements which have been constructed and expanded since 1967, contrary to international law
- Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem lack a secure legal residency status. Between 1967 and mid-2010, around 14,000 Palestinians had their Jerusalem residency revoked by the Israeli authorities.
- At least 33% of all Palestinian homes in East Jerusalem lack Israeli-issued building permits, which are difficult to obtain, potentially placing at least 93,100 residents at risk of displacement. Since 1967, the Israeli authorities have demolished some 2,000 houses in East Jerusalem.
- Since 1967,Israel has established about 150 settlements (residential and others) in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem; in addition to some 100 “outposts” erected by settlers without official authorization.Three new settlements were approved in 2012 by retroactively ‘authorizing’ such outposts.
- Settlements are illegal under international law as they violate Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, which prohibits the transfer of the occupying power’s civilian population into occupied territory. This has been confirmed by the International Court of Justice, the High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention and the United Nations Security Council.
I’m always surprised by the wealth of information readily available about the human cost of the occupation and other military operations. I very much doubt anyone at OCHA wants to be in the position of cataloguing injustice rather than fighting it; but that requires other people to be aware of the information they are collecting, and that they act on it.