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Who will donate half a million dollars? | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Who will donate half a million dollars?

Recent news coverage has been dominated by the eviction of the Israeli settlers from the Gaza strip, however, many of the details regarding what will remain and what will be removed have not been revealed. For example, many are unaware that greenhouses used by Israelis for planting fruits, vegetables and flowers, that bring in an average of 70 million dollars annually for their owners, will it be an exception in the withdrawal campaign.

The story began as international commissioner James Wolfensohn, former president of the World Bank, sought to secure the transfer of these greenhouse cultivations to Palestinians rather than having the settlers ruin them. Wolfensohn visited the region and was told that they were willing to hand over the greenhouses for a sum of 41 million US dollars otherwise they would be destroyed by the settlers, the same way they demolished houses when leaving. Due to the bankruptcy of the Palestinian authority, the international envoy Wolfensohn sought financial aid from American businessmen as well donating half a million US dollars from his personal account. For such a good deed and for setting such a precedent, Wolfensohn was praised by the Financial Times newspaper.

Usually, envoys and commissioners themselves do not financially donate to such causes, as the nature of their job is usually a temporary one. Wolfensohn became familiar with the region during his post in the World Bank. I recall a speech that he had delivered in Quraitum, the house of the late Lebanese Prime Minister, Rafiq Al-Hariri, where he had been invited to dinner. Despite his close friendship with the late Lebanese Prime Minister, Al-Hariri was not spared strong criticism and warning concerning the recklessness of paying off accumulated debts and the apathy of the government in its dealing with economic reform.

The truth is that the Palestinians are not in need of more sympathizers, for there are plenty in the universities of Europe and in the Wall Street financial market of the United States. What the Palestinians are in need of, however, is assistance in unifying them under one leadership and one political project. The donors to the greenhouse project have not revealed their names, but have declared that their main goal is to achieve peace in the unstable region. Many are prepared to contribute to the peace process for the sake of establishing a Palestinian state.

We are aware that such support is quite grand, however such support is in vain as we witness the grief of civilian victims and the battles between aggressive factions.