Occupied Palestine Territories HighlightsAK Party, Turkey
In the last decade alone, the Palestinian people have lost almost 5000 lives, close to $40 billion in income opportunity, 20 million square meters of agricultural land, and 100 million man-hours in crossing at Ramallah. Moreover, almost 1.7 million of the 4 million residents of Gaza and West Bank are refugees.
These are the findings of a new report Cost of Conflict in the Middle East by Strategic Foresight Group, a leading think-tank in Asia. The report was finalised just before the crisis in Gaza in December 2008 and does not take into account costs of the latest phase of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
The human costs of conflict for the Palestinian people are extremely significant. Between September 2000 and June 2007, over 4500 Palestinians died including 882 children in clashes, shelling, gunfire, demolitions, closure and other forms of violence. In addition, more than 11,000 Palestinians are in Israeli detention centres. In the course of the decade, 3,000 school children were detained by the Israeli defence forces. More than 1,300 schools could not function due to curfews, sieges and closures, and 40 Palestinian schools have been occupied by the Israeli Defence Forces since 2000.
The Strategic Foresight Group report was supported by the Governments of Norway and Switzerland, AK Party of Turkey and Qatar Foundation, and prepared with input from almost 50 leading scholars from Egypt, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Palestine Territories, Qatar and Turkey. It is the first time in the last 60 years that a comprehensive assessment of costs of various conflicts in the region has been undertaken using 97 different parameters.
The report estimates opportunity costs of $12 trillion for the last two decades for the region. The precise estimates of opportunity income lost vary from country to county. For instance, the per capita income of the Palestinians will be only $1,200 next year (in 2010), as compared to $2,400 that it would have been had there been peace and cooperation since 1991. The number of people living in deep poverty (those earning below $2 daily income) increased from 420,000 in 1998 to 1 million in 2006.
Israeli settlements in West Bank increased from 137,000 in 1991 to 200,000 in 2007. If settlements in East Jerusalem are also counted, they number almost half a million at present. The growth of settlements is directly related to an increase in closures. Closures were enforced on merely 12 days in 1999, whereas from 2003 to 2005 a range of 150-200 closure days were enforced per year. Check-points are estimated at around 600. Strategic Foresight Group has calculated the time wasted at check-points on the way to Ramallah at around 12 million man hours per year or 100 million man hours since 2000. The report says that 13,000 Palestinians saw their houses being demolished, and 2,000 Palestinians had their identity cards revoked since 2000.
The report says that 20,000 donums (20 million square meters) of the Palestinian agricultural land was destroyed by Israeli actions from 2000 to 2007. The greatest burden was borne by citrus and olive trees which accounted for two third of the trees destroyed.
The Palestinian farmers receive only 140 million cubic meters of water for agriculture, as compared to 1,275 million cubic meters by Israeli farmers, even though agriculture accounts for 25% of GDP and employment for the Palestinians as compared to 6% of GDP and 3.5% of employment for Israel.
The report is not confined to the Israel-Palestinian conflict. It also includes costs related to conflicts in Iraq and Lebanon as well as cold war between Iran and Israel. It points out that Israel, almost all Arab countries and Iran would have all had double their present level of per capita income and Iraq would have had four times its per capita income, had there been peace since 1991. It also provides estimates of expected increase in income and economic as well as non-economic opportunities for all people in the region if there is peace and cooperation. The report does not provide any solutions. However, it presents four scenarios for the region for 2025.
Highlights of the Report
Strategic Foresight Group (SFG) has published a new report in January 2009 on “Cost of Conflict in the Middle East”. It is the first time in the last 60 years that anyone has prepared detailed calculations of costs of various conflicts in the Middle East. The report uses 97 different parameters to measure costs in financial, economic, social, political, military, environmental, diplomatic terms for the entire region. In addition, there are special focus chapters on costs incurred by Israel, Palestine and the international community. The report also identifies the benefits of peace. The report uses 1991 as a point of departure for its calculations and calculates most costs up to 2010 and develops scenarios for 2010-2025. The report is full of diagrams and graphs with very little editorial text.
The process of preparing the report was important. The project was supported by
Federal Department of Foreign Affairs, Switzerland
Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Norway
Qatar Foundation, Qatar
Strategic Foresight Group organised two international workshops to seek input from regional experts in the report. They were held at Antalya (March 2008) and Zurich (August 2008). In addition, a mini workshop was organised as a part of an international conference at Belfast in May 2008.
More than 50 experts including former ministers and heads of think-tanks in the Middle East participated in the Antalya and Zurich workshops - specifically Israel, Palestine Territories, Jordan, Egypt, Lebanon, Iraq, Qatar, Kuwait, Turkey, among others. Several of them also provided research input in the form of written notes and research support in the form of access to valuable data and analysis.
The countries in the Middle East that are directly involved in or affected by the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, internal strife in Lebanon and the US invasion of Iraq have lost a whopping $12 trillion dollars (in 2006 dollar value) in opportunity costs from 1991 to 2010.
The opportunity cost has meant that the per capita income in these countries is less than half of what it actually should be. Iraq would have had four times the per capita income in 2010 - $9,600 without war instead of around $2,400. The per capita income of Egypt would be almost $3,000 instead of $1,800 and Lebanon would have double its projected per capita income of $5,600 in 2010. Israel would also have almost double its per capita income without conflict at $44,000 instead of $23,000 in 2010.
If sustainable peace is established, every household in the Middle East will gain. An average Israeli family will increase its income by $4,429 per year, even after paying compensation to settlers and making some contribution to the Palestinian refugees. The average family income in Egypt will go up by $500, in Jordan by $1,250 and in Saudi Arabia by $5,000 a year.
The conflicts in the region have made the Middle East the most militarised region in the world. 7 out of the 10 highest military spenders in the world are from the Middle East. In this respect, the region compares to Eritrea and Burundi. The cumulative military expenditure is expected to double in the next ten years.
The Middle East has 5-6 million armed persons (including military personnel, reserves, para-military and foreign troops) for its 300 million people. This is the highest per capita ratio of armed personnel in the world.
Education is the biggest casualty in a militarised society. Almost 900 Palestinian children have lost their lives since 2000 in clashes, gunfire and other violence between Palestinian groups and Israeli defence forces. More than 3,000 Palestinian school children have been detained by the Israeli Defence Forces and more than 40 schools have been occupied since 2000. There is almost no education in higher science available in the Palestinian territories. In Iraq the average monthly salary of school teachers declined from $500-100 in the pre-invasion period, and then further declined to $5-40 after 2003. Almost 30-40% of students sit at home instead of attending schools and colleges out of fear. Libraries containing millions of books have been destroyed.
The report has a detailed chapter on costs for the Palestinian people. Almost 5,000 of them have been killed and 10,000 imprisoned since 2000. Poverty has increased in a decade from 23% in the mid-1990s to 35% at present. Health services are stagnant.
The population of settlers in the West Bank has increased from 231,000 in 1991 to 483,450 now, including those in East Jerusalem.
There are more than 600 checkpoints in the West Bank. About 12 million man-hours are wasted every year due to check-points on the way to Ramallah.
Israel has demolished almost 2,000 houses in Gaza and the West Bank.
The report also has a detailed chapter on costs to Israel where the society is seized by a great sense of insecurity. More than 1,000 Israelis have been killed in fighting since 2000, including 123 minors.
Israel lost $15 billion of potential tourism revenue from 2000 to 2006. Housing prices in areas affected by direct hostility have crashed.
More than 90% of Israelis live with a sense of insecurity.
Environment has been harmed significantly due to oil spills, oil slick damage, and oil related pollutants. The First Gulf War emitted CO2 that was equivalent to 1.5% of the world’s annual emissions. Imagine if there is another war which in terms of emissions is double or triple in its impact. Such a war will produce 3-5% of the world’s CO2 emissions which is more than the emissions of an industrialized country like UK.
The war in Iraq and those between Israel and Hezbollah have resulted in damage to water and sanitation networks. All countries in the region are operating below the threshold levels of water consumption and depend on desalination plants. The report provides details of the risk to water supply lines in the eventuality of a future war.
The conflicts in the Middle East have got entangled with a worldwide deficit of trust between Western and Islamic countries leading to the growth of terror groups such as Al Qaeda.
The US Transportation Security Administration has placed 100,000 people on a No Fly list and 2 million people on a Terrorist Watch List subjecting them to special checks at airports.
A transition to peace and cooperation will create new sources of water, oil and natural gas for the entire region. It will also result in the introduction of new railway tracks, airports and a peace canal. This will improve communication between societies, create new employment opportunities, attract investments, and release resources for education and other social needs, giving birth to a virtuous cycle.
Some of the projects which might be feasible in a period of warm peace would include a gas pipeline from Gaza to Israel to Lebanon, railway lines from Jordan and Syria to Haifa in Israel, Aqaba Eilat peace airport jointly managed by Israel and Jordan, and an air link between Gaza and Tel Aviv.
Joint tourism development of religious places by Israel and a future independent Palestinian State will lead to tremendous increase in the number of tourists to both countries.
The report does not provide formulae to resolve any of the conflicts in the region. It has proposed a peace-building ladder, an inclusive and semi-permanent process. It has also developed four scenarios for the region in 2025.
The Table of Contents and excerpts from the report are available on the website of Strategic Foresight Group: www.strategicforesight.com
A new report, Cost of Conflict in the Middle East, by Strategic Foresight Group, a leading think-tank in Asia, highlights the travails of the youth due to conflict in the region. It is the first time in the last 60 years that a comprehensive assessment of costs of various conflicts in the region has been undertaken on 97 different parameters. The project was supported by the Governments of Norway and Switzerland, AK Party of Turkey and Qatar Foundation. The report covers the dismal situation of the youth in Israel, Palestinian, Lebanon, and Iraq. Below are some of the conclusions from the report.
In the Iraq, Lebanon, and Palestine, 40% of all internally displaced persons from each country are children, resulting in the loss of a generation.
The report calculates between September 2000 and June 2007, almost 1,000 children have died in Palestine at the hands of Israeli forces due to clashes at the border, shelling, gunfire, etc. Over 400 children are under detention of Israeli authorities with little or no news about them.
Since September 2000, 123 Israeli minors have been killed at cafes, bars, shopping malls, at the hands of suicide bombers, while attempting to lead a normal life, and over 2000 children have been left orphans.
Immediately after the war with Lebanon, 55,000 Israeli children and young adults were been diagnosed with anxiety, and almost 40% live in fear of another Holocaust.
In Lebanon, 33% of all civilian deaths have been children, and 390,000 of them were displaced in 2006 alone.
In Iraq, 41 out of 1,000 children do not live past the age of 5, due to bad sanitation, poor supply of water, and lack of proper hygiene, as opposed to 11 out of a 1,000 in Kuwait.
Stagnant health services and lack of access due to the separation wall has caused the level of anaemia among children 0-9 months old to reach 73% in Gaza and 45% in the West Bank.
While the youth literacy rate in the mid 1990s in Iraq was at 85%, as of 2008 after years of war it is below 60%. There has been a deliberate targeting of educational establishments, and almost 800,000 children are out of school, and over 3,000 academics have fled the country. Over 30% of children and 40% of university students stay at home due to fear, and paucity of schools near them. In 2007, 353 academics were assassinated.
Iraq is known as the cradle of civilization and the report by Strategic Foresight Group provides details of how the 2003 war resulted in a complete destruction of 1.5 million books, documents and religious manuscripts from the National Archives, the National Library, the Central Library at the University of Baghdad and other libraries around the country; the Library of Bayt al-Hikma was completely ruined.
The widespread looting in the aftermath of the invasion, the movement of military tanks, and the building of American bases lead to the destruction of over 10,000 historic sites of incomparable importance, and the loss of innumerable number of items of cultural importance. Amongst the stolen items was the famous alabaster ‘Warka Lady’ dating from about 3100 BC. The crash of civilization in Iraq will result in a loss of access to history for future generations of Iraqi’s.
The education of Lebanese children was worst affected, where in 2006 alone over 40,000 children had their education disrupted.
Palestine fared no better with over 1,300 schools having been disrupted due to closures and curfews, and 3,000 children being detained by the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF), since 2000, on their way to school. 40 schools have also been occupied by the IDF since 2000.
The report by Strategic Foresight Group also argues that beyond the economics and the numbers, there are incalculable losses. The Arab boycott, the travel and other restrictions between Israel and her neighbors, has resulted in a generation of children that have lost out the opportunity to gain and grow from other cultures. An Arab Israeli peace would have seen a generation of educated, traveled, cultured youth and not a generation living on fear and mistrust.
For more information, visit www.strategicforesight.com
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