Stunted development, poverty puts $ 57 billion in economic toll in Palestine

With an estimated economic toll of $ 57.7 billion, the to study estimated the cost at the equivalent of three and a half times the 2019 GDP of the occupied Palestinian territory ”.

Moreover, he indicated that the minimum cost of eliminating poverty in the West Bank had increased six-fold between 1998 and 2007, from $ 73 million to $ 428 million.

“We are talking about the reproduction of despair in the West Bank and Gaza,” said Richard Kozul-Wright, UNCTAD Director of the Division on Globalization and Development Strategies, calling for the reconnection of the Palestinian territories into a “full state” to reverse the trend.

Second aftermath of the Palestinian intifada

The report covers the period following the outbreak of the second Palestinian intifada in September 2000.

According to UNCTAD economist Rami Alazzeh, Israel’s closure policy was “on several levels.”

The roads between the West Bank, Gaza, Israel and the border with Jordan have been closed and “in 2020 there is still the separation wall that Israel started to build in 2003”.

what’s more 600 obstacles in the West Bank, including checkpoints and barriers, remain in place.

Poverty projections

The immediate effect of tighter Israeli restrictions on the West Bank witnessed a drastic drop in living standards, which hit the poorest segments of the population the most.

The report predicted that without Israeli closures, restrictions and military operations, the 2004 poverty rate in the West Bank would have been 12 percent, or one-third of the current 35 percent.

In 2019, the West Bank’s GDP per capita would have been 44% higher than its real value, according to the report.

“This is a substantial amount of money for a small economy like this,” said Mahmoud Elkhafif, coordinator of assistance to the Palestinian people at UNCTAD.

“Growth without employment and development stopped”

In the West Bank between 2000 and 2002, the tightening of Israeli restrictions and military operations triggered a contraction of one-third, according to the report.

Although there has been 6.2% annual growth in its economy since 2007, the report pointed out that the expansion was volatile – ranging from 13.1% in 2008 to 1.6% in 2019 – which led to high unemployment, hovering around 18%. during this time.

Unable to find jobs, many Palestinians sought work in Israel and its settlements, creating a nefarious dependence of the West Bank regional economy on Israel.

However, without it, the West Bank would have almost reached unemployment rates as high as those in the besieged Gaza Strip, which averaged 39.8% between 2007 and 2019.

But the report pointed out that even with a job in Israel, the West Bank regional economy has not been able to reduce or stabilize its unemployment rate since 1999.

A 13-year-old boy in Palestine collects rubble near Gaza City, which he carries on donkeys to the market for sale.  (to file)

© UNICEF / Eyas El Baba

A 13-year-old boy in Palestine collects rubble near Gaza City, which he carries on donkeys to the market for sale. (to file)

Lift restrictions

Report calls for lifting all restrictions on mobility in the occupied Palestinian territory and to reconnect it with East Jerusalem and all the towns and villages of the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

He also called for enabling the Palestinian public and private sectors to establish and run agricultural, industrial, commercial and mining businesses in Area C – which comprises over 60% of the West Bank – where Palestinians are currently not allowed. to operate. companies.

The document recalls that until the end of the occupation, Palestinian economic development will continue to be stopped and its cost to the population, continue to grow.

To create “decent jobs” it is “essential to overcome the kind of poverty levels we see in the West Bank,” Kozul-Wright said.


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