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Air pollution becomes Israel-Palestinian wedge issue

SeattlePI.com Friday, 2 December 2016
[...] that authorities have finally cracked down, shutting a group of the worst offending charcoal plants in one notorious town, Palestinians complain that hundreds were thrown out of work by their military occupiers. The story of the northern West Bank town of Yabed, and its now-idle collection of charcoal plants, illustrates how for Israelis and Palestinians, Middle East politics seems to permeate the most basic elements of daily life, whether it be education, construction or sports. [...] the home of the Palestinian charcoal industry in Yabed is located in what is known as "Area B," a category of territory that under interim peace accords falls under Palestinian civil authority — but where Israel retains security control, as in most of the West Bank's area. After years of failed dialogue with the local Palestinian leadership, Israel's military took matters into its own hands in November, shutting down more than a dozen factories and confiscating equipment and 160 tons of wood that was to be used to produce charcoal. Maj. Gen. Yoav Mordechai, who heads COGAT, the defense body responsible for Palestinian civil affairs, said it was a matter of public health that "harms both Israelis and Palestinians alike." [...] that's not how it was received in the West Bank, where workers called it an oppressive measure that curried favor with Jewish settlers and violated previous agreements with the Palestinian Authority, a claim Israel denies. Yael German, an Israeli lawmaker and former health minister who has advocated against the pollution, said she was saddened at the job losses but noted Israel faced similar concerns when shutting down factories that laid off Israeli laborers too. [...] she said health concerns had to prevail, particularly with pollution the World Health Organization says has a direct link to cancer and other illnesses.
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