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Un campaign for palestinian fence victims

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UN launches campaign for Palestinian fence victims
Melissa Radler Aug. 7, 2003

In the United Nations' latest condemnation of Israeli counter-terror measures, the UN Development Program launched an $18 million campaign this week "to address the needs of Palestinian communities affected by Israel's Separation Wall."

The campaign, through the UNDP's Program of Assistance to the Palestinian People, includes land reclamation, water infrastructure and agricultural road projects, and it aims at generating some 200,000 employment opportunities for Palestinian laborers, noted a UNDP press release.

The release states that Israel is building the fence "within the occupied West Bank in what it said was a security operation to keep out suicide bombers," and it quotes Palestinian Authority minister for local government, Jamal Shobaki, lamenting the fence's impact on Palestinian life.

"The wall is encircling many villages and towns, especially in the Qalqilya and Tulkarm districts, confiscating thousands of dunams of some of the best agricultural land, disrupting basic social and health services and threatening the viability of a future Palestinian state," said Shobaki, according to the release.

In the past, Israel has quietly welcomed international appeals for certain UN programs such as the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), which provides humanitarian assistance to Palestinian refugees. However, it took a dismal view of the latest campaign, including the appeal's failure to acknowledge the hardship to Israel caused by Palestinian terror.

"This is another example of how the United Nations willfully renders its services to Palestinian propaganda," said a spokesman at Israel's mission to the UN, Ariel Milo.

"The purpose of the security fence is to keep the suicide bombers and the perpetrators of other forms of terror attacks out of the Israeli cities," Milo continued. "It is unfortunate that the UNDP did not launch a similar appeal to assist the Israeli families whose loved ones were killed and whose lives have been devastated by Palestinian terrorism."

Asked whether the UNDP had considered an appeal for Israeli victims of terror, UNDP's special representative in Jerusalem, Tim Rothermel, said the UN doesn't take sides in the conflict. "The United Nations, on many occasions, has commented on the tragedy and suffering of innocent civilians being killed, both Israeli and Palestinian, and I personally have the same feeling for any innocent civilian being injured," he said.

"Our business is assisting Palestinians. Our mandate is not providing security for Israelis," he added.

Rothermel said that donors in Saudi Arabia and other Arab states have expressed interest in funding the campaign, which was launched on Wednesday. "I'm hopeful, but no money has changed hands yet," he said.

According to UNDP statistics, the fence has resulted in the destruction of tens of thousands of olive and fruit trees, hundreds of dunams of irrigated land and tens of kilometers of water networks and roads, and the isolation of more than 100,000 dunams of cultivated farmland. The day after the campaign was launched, the Bush administration announced a $26 million donation for UNRWA's sixth emergency appeal, which runs until December of this year. Before the administration's announcement, the $103 million campaign had received less than $3 million in pledges.

Copyright 1995-2003 The Jerusalem Post -

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