Israeli occupation stifling Palestinian economy: UNCTAD
THE Palestinian economy could easily double, while sky-high unemployment and poverty would plummet if the Israeli occupation were lifted, the United Nations development agency said,
In a new report, UNCTAD pointed to a long list of ways the Israeli occupation stifled the economies of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, including the confiscation of Palestinian land, water and other natural resources.
The widespread restrictions on the movement of people and goods, the destruction of homes, trees and other assets, and the expansion of Israeli settlements were also damaging, it said.
“Without occupation, the economy of the Occupied Palestinian Territory could produce twice the GDP [gross domestic product] it currently generates,” the report said.
The economy of the territories grew 3.5 percent last year after shrinking 0.2pc in 2014, when it was hard-hit by the devastating war in Gaza between Israel and Islamist rulers Hamas and other factions.
Per capita income remains below its pre-2014 level, the report said.
The 2014 Gaza war killed more than 2200 Palestinians and 73 on the Israeli side while causing economic losses close to three times the size of Gaza’s GDP.
With reconstruction hampered by Israel’s blockade and by lagging international aid, 91pc of damaged houses in Gaza have yet to be rebuilt and 75,000 people remain displaced two years on, the UNCTAD report said.
It also pointed to the dire impact Israel’s control of the so-called Area C, which covers 61pc of the West Bank and 66pc of its grazing land.
“It is estimated that the occupation of Area C costs the Palestinian economy the equivalent of 35pc of GDP” [US$4.4 billion in 2015], UNCTAD said. –