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PACBI-Open Letter from Palestinian Health Organizations

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9 July 2005

Open Letter from Palestinian Health Organizations

Referring to the comments made by Dr. Shanit on behalf of the Peres Centre for Peace to our Open Letter to the Palestinian and international community regarding Palestinian-Israeli cooperation, we would like to note the following:

  1. The Palestinian medical and health service providers who signed the Open Letter did not call for an outright ban on Palestinian-sraeli cooperation in the health sector, but rather deplored the fact that some international donors have increasingly made Palestinian-Israeli cooperation projects a condition for the provision of support to the Palestinian health sector.

  2.  As outlined in our Open Letter, we have always welcomed and continue to welcome the support of Israelis who openly oppose occupation and work with Palestinians based on a platform of justice and equality as well as mutual political understanding.

  3. However, the Palestinian medical and health NGOs reserve the right to choose their partners in research, training, teaching and other activities, including the right to choose partners from within and outside Israel. We also expect partners on the Israeli side to openly demand that the Israeli government end the 38 year long occupation and abide by International Law, the Fourth Geneva Convention and all relevant UN Security Council Resolutions. Palestinian health organizations are of course keen to promote health care in the occupied territory and are always open to cooperation with Israeli institutions that explicitly and publicly oppose Israeli military occupation and work towards bringing about its end.

The claim that by signing the Open Letter, Palestinian health organizations would deny the Palestinian population, especially children, essential medical treatment otherwise unavailable in Palestine is simply untrue and does not make sense either. We question the effectiveness and value of joint Palestinian-Israeli projects as the best method of improving the Palestinian population’s health. To date, there is no evidence that joint projects are an effective and efficient method of improving the Palestinian people’s health. We also question why priority is given to joint projects, and not, for example, to other possible courses of action, such as direct investment in the Palestinian medical and health infrastructure as well as other activities aiming at improving the capacity of Palestinian health services to fulfill the population’s medical and health needs. This would also gradually decrease dependence on Israeli medical services, in itself an important step towards Palestinian national independence and sustainable development.

It is an indisputable fact that the root causes of the Palestinian population's ill health in general and Palestinian children's health in particular are the ongoing Israeli occupation of Palestinian land as well as Israeli government practices on the ground, including the building of the Apartheid Wall. We believe that, apart from addressing the symptoms, Israeli health organizations also have a moral responsibility to tackle the underlying problem, the occupation. If actions are limited to only dealing with the symptoms of military occupation, even with the best of intentions, such actions may well end up perpetuating today’s realities.

We were surprised at the inappropriate tone and content of the statement made by Dr. Shanit in response to our Open Letter. A continued discussion of issues of disagreement is indeed welcome, provided it is conducted in a mutually respectful manner.

Finally, Palestinian health professionals continue to appreciate and welcome any effort by Israeli health professionals to relieve the pain and suffering of Palestinian and Israeli patients.

Palestinian Health Organizations



Posted on 11-07-2005

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