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Tuesday, August 30, 2005
Transcript of Briefing by Lt.-Col. Beaudoin, Head of the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories Foreign Relations Branch

Transcript of 30.8.05 GPO Briefing by Lt.-Col. Daniel Beaudoin, Head of the
Coordinator of Government Activities
in the Territories Foreign Relations Branch
(Communicated by the GPO)
30 August 2005

The GPO today (Tuesday), 30.8.05, held a foreign press briefing with
Lt.-Col. Daniel Beaudoin, Head of the Coordinator of Government Activities
in the Territories Foreign Relations Branch, and Lt.-Col. Baruch Persky,
Head of the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories Economic
Branch. Following are excerpts of their remarks in response to the
questions that they took (unfortunately, the questions were not intelligible
on the tape; thus, we could only transcribe the answers):

Lt.-Col. Beaudoin: The disengagement doesn't bring to an end our cooperation
with the Palestinians. It put to an end our military presence in the Gaza
Strip. We know from Dahlan that the Palestinians also, I mean truthfully,
are looking for a partner in stabilizing their economic situation. It's not
something that can be done over a day. We can go into analysis why over the
occupation the Palestinian Authority didn't find time to educate its people
to more transparent ways of dealing with money, but that's not the situation
now. The situation is on an economic level, project level, coordinating
level, we will continue. We will continue to work with them, I know that
it is Dahlan's wish as well. As you know we are relocating the district
coordination & liaison office from Erez, which is on Palestinian territory,
about 500-600 meters northwest into Israeli territory. We are keeping
several key offices open in order to continue to interlocute with the
Palestinians. The international organization office will continue to
operate because there will be a lot of international involvement in what is
going to happen in the Gaza Strip. The World Bank, the donor community,
UNRRWA and the major aid agencies will not be leaving. They're thinking of
job-generating, they're looking at job-generating programs for the future
and less, let's say, dependency on foodstuffs, which I think is a positive
trend anyway. That's the way the UNDP works by the way. Also there are
issues to be discussed. For example, the airport, the port, continuity
between the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, cargo, goods, people, all these
issues will need to be discussed and we do this at several levels of course,
from our level to the political level. So, there's still work and we are
not disengaging from the Palestinians.

Lt.-Col Persky: I would like to answer you. I don't remember the exact
number but it was around 40 days in 2004 that the Karni crossing was closed.
I have exact number about something we didn't talk about and it's the
industrial zone in Erez. I would like to say a few words about it. (.).
In 2003, this industrial zone was closed for only 8 days during the year.
In 2004, it was closed for 151 days. This industrial zone was a symbol of
cooperation between Israel and the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip. Around
5,000 employees worked in this industrial zone during 2003. What happened
is that the terrorist groups wanted to sabotage this symbol of cooperation
and they made some terrorist attacks. Also, two soldiers of our units were
killed in this crossing in January 2004. After some terrorist attacks, we
almost closed this industrial zone. Later, we allowed around 800 workers to
come back, only those over 40, I think. And that's the story of Erez.

Lt.-Col. Beaudoin: The idea on a strategic level is to cooperate in order
for the Palestinian Authority to have the means to continue and to manage,
it depends also a lot on them, there's only that much you can do to bring
the horse to the trough, but our idea is to leave an operational economic
situation not a transfer of knowledge. For example, you talked about
medical cooperation. It'll continue. I mean, we have approximately, the
WHO statistic, 700 patients that come into Israel on a monthly basis to
Soroka hospital in Be'er Sheva, etc., etc. We have medical exchange. It's
going to continue. That's not going to end. We're not going to stop
talking to the Palestinians on project implementation. We're not going to
stop talking to the Palestinians if they wish so on US aid, for example, on
renewing two of its major projects in the Gaza Strip with water. One is the
north-south carrier; the other is the desalination project. They were
stopped because Americans were murdered by terrorists at Erez crossing and
the US basically stopped the projects for fear of the contractors' lives but
this is something, if that begins again, water is a serious issue that needs
to be addressed. We've been so involved with these issues for such a long
time that I think that the Palestinians realize, Dahlan realizes we think,
that it is best to continue talking to us about that. The World Bank talks
about six, seven years I think, that it will take for the PA to reach
economic stability. I think that this was the latest report. So this is at
least the period it's going to take in order for us to assist them in doing

First of all, this data is the data of the Palestinians. The Palestinians
have the Palestinian Bureau of Statistics. They have a website on the
internet. You can go into the site and see all the details. The World Bank
takes the data from this source. We also have cooperation with the
economists of the World Bank and we are all together on the same data. But
I would like to give you some more information. In 2004, the rate of
unemployment was 35%. You have two different ways to measure unemployment.
You have the international standards of the ILO, the International Labor
Organization. In this standard, the data that I gave you is according to
the ILO standard, last year it was 35%. You have other methods to measure
unemployment. In this method, you count also those who despaired of
searching for work. In this method, the rate last year was 40%. By any
methods, the numbers are not more than 45%. I would like also to remind you
that the data of what was before 2000, before all the terrorist attacks, the
rate of unemployment, in all the PA, was only at 11%. I would like to
remind you that in Israel last year, it was around 10%. In the West Bank,
it was 8% and in the Gaza Strip it was 16%. That was in 2000, before the
last conflict. So the condition wasn't so bad. In Egypt, for example, the
rate is around 12% unemployment. In the last year, in 2004, the percentage
[of unemployment] in the West Bank was 23% by the international standard and
29% by the other method. Before the conflict in 2000, it was 5% in the West
Bank by the international standard and 13% by the other method.

About Karni. Israel makes, as I told you before, to improve the facility of
Karni. In the last two months, the airport authority extended the working
hours to 23:00. We also got a new extra machine for containers during 2004
but each terrorist attack returned us back. We know about one case of
corruption on the Israeli side but on the Palestinian side, there is a lot.

Lt.-Col Persky: About employment from the Gaza Strip to Israel, the numbers
have increased at the rate of 200%....The terrorist attacks had a big
influence on the policy to let in employees from the Gaza Strip. But in the
last month, we allowed around almost 10,000 employees to get in and the
number of days of working in the six months between January and June were
260,000 workdays, as compared to 84,000 in the last six months of 2004.

According to the disengagement plan, right now the Israeli government
decided that during the next three years, 15,000 employees will be allowed
into Israel from the Gaza Strip and 20,000 from the West Bank. The policy
of our government is that those numbers will go down until the end of 2008.
Right now this is the policy of Israel.The responsibility of the employees
from the Gaza Strip is not the same from before the Disengagement Plan and
after. That's why the government has decided about this policy and right
now this is the policy.

Lt.-Col. Beaudoin: What I said about our cooperation with Dahlan is that
it's mainly in the civilian sphere. There will also be security
coordination run by the security people. Regarding the collecting of
weapons, I think that there are more questions than answers here. For
example, you know that we are working together with the European Union.
It's a European Union effort to strengthen the Palestinian police force.
They are here in full force, the EU, and they have police advisers in the
field actually trying to educate the Palestinians to handle the weapons that
are in the field in a responsible manner.The challenge of the European Union
and those involved in trying to strengthen the security forces is huge
because there is a complete lack of transparency and a democratic policing
doctrine. If the Oslo accords allow 20,000 weapons for the PA force in the
Gaza Strip, we reckon that there are close to 40,000 in the field. I'm not
talking about militant groups and terrorist groups. I'm talking about the
security forces, the preventive security forces and the police forces, if
the last time a weapon was checked was something like 10 years ago, then
this is a problem. I'm talking to you about the little things. I'm talking
to you about shooting in the air with joy...There are plenty of weapons,
what you have is a lack of will. You have plenty of weapons in the field.
You have a lack of courageous decisions. You have a lack of dealing with
the situation. You cannot eat the cake and have it remain whole as much as
you want it to. It doesn't work, it simply doesn't work. There is a
complete lack of organizational preparedness. They've been so busy trying
to blow us up for the last 30 years and they haven't been putting enough
effort into trying to find some sort of way of building a viable system.
And this is our expectation for the future. Even the international
community is expecting that of the Palestinians today and I'm surprised,
I've been on the job for seven years so I have some sort of historical
perspective and I can see how the Europeans are coming to the Palestinians
today and are demanding transparency, not only fiscal transparency on what
happens with donor money, but also security transparency. Do you have
procedures in place? How are you going to train these people? How are we
going to bring about change in the Palestinian police force? How are you
going to deal with corruption? How are you going to deal with gangs? How
are you going to deal with kidnappings of internationals in order to release
some guy who was apprehended because he ripped off a car?...I remember
Ben-Gurion, at the beginning of the state of Israel, in Jaffa, how he sank
Menachem Begin's ship just off Jaffa, the Altalena. Why did he do this?
Because he wanted to show that he was the guy running the show and I don't
care that you brought weapons from Italy. If you don't hand them over to
the IDF and to me as the sovereign leader of this mess here, and we cannot
have a whole bunch of groups doing what they like, then we're going to shell
your ship. And Menachem Begin said all sorts of juicy words in Hebrew so
they sank his ship. In the end, it comes to this. It comes to will, it
comes to making things happen. And you don't make things happen by sitting
around boardrooms with Hamas. It happens when you take action and this has
not happened. And it's going to have to happen and I think that the
international community is very encouraging on this. Even they are more
adamant about it than we are almost and I'm really surprised that it came to


I'm trying to make a differentiation between the economic future and
security future of the Gaza Strip but both are interlinked. So when I talk
about expectations of Palestinian maturity in dealing with a police force in
a Western manner, this will link up in some way to what will happen in the
Gaza Strip because if the Gaza Strip becomes an Islamabad and it bursts at
the seems with RPG's within six months, this will have an influence on how
the economy is going to look I promise you. If Dehaniye airport will become
an airlifting center for RPG's, it's going to be a problem. And if the port
of Gaza becomes just another way of lining the pockets of proxies and
bringing in more weapons, then that's going to influence the way we look at
the viable options of helping the Palestinians together to make it a better

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