Occupied Palestinian Territory: Fifty years of inaction and impunity must end

Published: 31st May 2017

The international community continues to turn a blind eye to Israel’s violations of international law and the abuse of human rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT), Oxfam said today. 

As development and human rights organisations prepare to mark fifty years of occupation, donors, the UN and international agencies have spent billions of dollars in humanitarian and development aid that will have little sustainable, long-term impact while the occupation remains in place.

Oxfam Country Director Chris Eijkemans said the inaction of international governments sends the wrong signal: that international law can be violated with impunity. This lack of accountability keeps Palestinians poor and prevents them from accessing their rights.

“There are few examples of poverty or injustice in the OPT that do not stem from the occupation. If it weren’t for the occupation, most aid agencies would not need to be here. The issues facing Palestinians are enormous and complex, but on each count, despite the billions of dollars invested, the lives of Palestinians cannot meaningfully improve as long as the occupation persists,” said Eijkemans.

Aid has brought neither peace nor significant sustainable development to the OPT. Despite the Occupied Palestinian Territory being one of the highest per capita recipients of aid in the world in recent decades, the economy, security and many development indicators of the OPT have declined. This is due to a fundamental failure to ensure that aid commitments are underpinned by diplomatic and political pressure to end violations and allow Palestinians to claim their rights.

These Band-Aid humanitarian solutions will fail to bring long-term sustainable change, but will continue to be needed, unless the root cause of these injustices - the occupation - ends.

Oxfam warned that Palestinians cannot endure another fifty years of occupation, and the international community bears significant responsibility to hold Israel to account so a just and peaceful solution to the conflict can be found.

“The international community shoulders a large portion of the blame for the ongoing situation faced by 4.5 million Palestinians living in the OPT and must take clear and urgent action. Toothless condemnation of the litany of abuses is not enough. Settlement expansion, disproportionate use of violence, forcible transfer, restriction of movement, confiscation of land, destruction of homes and collective punishment are illegal acts. Governments have a choice: they can either challenge or entrench these ongoing violations,” said Eijkemans.

Peace and prosperity for Palestinians can only be achieved if Israel is held to account for its systematic violations of international law and the occupation is brought to an end.

While the occupation is in place, the true potential of the OPT and Palestinians cannot be realized.

“Israel has no incentive to end the occupation while it bears no tangible cost for its violations. We must do more to find a solution that brings justice and peace for both Israelis and Palestinians. These fifty years have seen thousands of lives and opportunities lost. Families have been separated; people have been denied their most basic rights. We must not let another fifty years pass before a just and peaceful solution is found," said Eijkemans.

Notes to editors

Contact information

Roslyn Boatman: roslyn.boatman@oxfamnovib.nl / mobile: +972 54639 5002 |