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Bentley Professor Discusses World Bank Trip to Jerusalem and West Bank

October 21, 2003

Denis Sullivan, professor and chair of International Studies and director of the Cronin International Center, recently returned from a two-week trip to Jerusalem and the West Bank (September 26- October 10) in which he led the World Bank team in a review of the Bank's Palestinian NGO Project.

Denis will discuss his trip on Tuesday, November 4 at 4:00 p.m. in Wilder Pavilion, as part of the "Global Issues, Bentley Action" speaker series.

Q: How was the trip?
A: It was very productive. We were very productive as a team. We worked 12-15 hour days. The trip also was very frustrating and stressful, and there were two points in my travels that were even quite fearful. In the West Bank, I had to go up towards Ramallah, and down towards Hebron, and into the city of Qalqilya, where things were very tense. It's a city that's almost under lockdown, by the Israeli security fence. There were moments of tension and worry, and all too frequently even feelings of anger and rage... The restrictions I had to go through - having to go through Israeli military checkpoints. To me, it was emblematic of the levels of frustration, because every time you wanted to go somewhere, you had to go through one, two, or even more military checkpoints. And when I was inside Israel Proper, yeah, I felt fear also. Riding behind Israeli buses - which are regular targets of terrorism - was fearful.

Q: What were the team's findings?
A: We found that because of the political situation, the project has been delayed at least six to nine months, and we recommended to the Bank that they extend their support for the Project at least by nine months to a year. So we blame a lot of it on the political situation, the violence, the closures, and the terrorism. We also recognize there are managerial problems in the project itself - too much micro-managing rather than empowering your employees to run the project the way it should be run.

Q: How have things changed in the past two years?
A: Drastically. Palestinian poverty is through the roof, and far worse today than it was two years ago when the project started. Unemployment is sky high - around 70-80%. The economic and social situation of Palestinian lives is worse off by far, so we want to encourage the Bank to continue to support poverty alleviation and support for women, children, the handicapped, and others left out of the mainstream economy.

Q: Will you be going back any time soon?
A: Not soon. Palestine is one of my primary research areas, along with Egypt. I'm going to Egypt this January. I hope to go back to Jerusalem and the West Bank, maybe next summer, with or without the World Bank. I'd like to go with them.

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