Life for Palestinians in the West Bank is complicated. They are nominally governed by the Palestinian Authority. But it is not a state, and residents of the territory must contend with Israeli occupation on a daily basis.
Freedom of movement is tightly controlled – not only for people, but also the mail. Recently, Israel released Palestinian parcels it had been holding since 2010. The Palestine Post has been stuck with sorting through 10 tons worth of letters and packages since late August.
At the Palestine Post in Ramallah, Najat Mahmoud was shocked to receive clothing she had ordered from an online shopping site one year ago.
“I honestly did not expect them to arrive,” she told Asia Times laughing sadly.
Between piles of plastic bags, the head of the international exchange department at the Palestine Post inspected parcels that had recently arrived.
“The volume of mail here is the result of an accumulation since 2010,” said Ramadan Ghazawi, head of the postal service’s international exchange department in Jericho.
The mail was supposed to have been delivered through a partnership between the Palestinian and Jordanian postal services, and with the stated approval of the Israeli authorities.
“But the private company that was contracted to transport the mail from Amman to the Karama border crossing kept returning it to the Israelis, under a new pretext every time, which eventually led to the accumulation of 10 tons worth of mail,” Ghazawi said.
While some packages are full of mundane items like clothing, the postal service is also working to sort urgent international mail and documents.
The crippling situation at the border is unlikely to change anytime soon.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday reiterated his longstanding opposition to a future Palestinian state with control over its own borders.
“Israel and Israel alone will have the security responsibility for the territory west of the Jordan River,” he told a gathering of the Jewish Federations of North America in Tel Aviv.