I spent last week in and around East Jerusalem and the Bethlehem area of the West Bank speaking to people about the current situation in the Palestinian Territories. I had hoped to go to Gaza but the permit did not materialise.
I have always been struck by the resilience of Palestinians I have met when they have spoken about life under occupation, however on this occasion I was aware just how tired many people have become following twenty years of negotiation that have resulted in things getting worse rather than better.
Hopes for a two state solution are strained, and the response to the Palestinian UNESCO application being approved, both by the US and Canada withdrawing aid and the Israeli withholding of Palestinian tax revenue, has caused huge frustration and distress.
As Israel continues to expand the building of settlements in East Jerusalem and in the West Bank, it is planning the forced relocation of twenty Bedouin and Herder communities into an urban setting, meaning the loss of their way of life as well as further displacement of what are already largely refugee communities.
Meanwhile the descriptions of life in Gaza are appalling, with the water supply polluted to the point of being poisonous.
As Christmas decorations start to go up across Scotland’s High Streets, life in Bethlehem is far from the glitter. Weariness and resignation are more in evidence than expectation.
For a good briefing on life in Gaza see the website of UN Office of the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs.