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UN: Palestinian economy would be twice as large without Israeli occupation

Palestinians clash with Israeli soldiers [apaimages]
Palestinians clash with Israeli soldiers [Apaimages]

The Palestinian economy would be at least twice as large without the Israeli occupation, according to a new report published by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD).

The deleterious impact of Israeli restrictions on the Palestinian economy has long been documented by Palestinian sources, as well as international bodies like the World Bank.

According to UNCTAD, Israel’s decades-old occupation “deprives the Palestinian people of their human right to development and hollows out the Palestinian economy.”

Specifically cited as primary factors are “the confiscation of Palestinian land, water and other natural resources; loss of policy space; restrictions on the movement of people and goods; destruction of assets and the productive base; expansion of Israeli settlements; fragmentation of domestic markets; separation from international markets and forced dependence on the Israeli economy.”

According to the UN body, “a continuous process of de-agriculturalisation and de-industrialisation has deformed the structure of the Palestinian economy.” From 1975-2014, UNCTAD states, the share of the tradable goods sector (agriculture and industry) as a proportion of total GDP fell from 37 per cent to 18 per cent, and its contribution to employment dropped from 47 per cent to 23 per cent.

Meanwhile, Area C, “which accounts for more than 60 per cent of West Bank land and more than 66 per cent of its grazing land, is not accessible to Palestinian producers.” UNCTAD cites estimates that Israeli restrictions in Area C “costs the Palestinian economy the equivalent of 35 per cent of GDP ($4.4 billion in 2015).”

UNCTAD’s report “argues that the occupation has cultivated permanent crises of unemployment, poverty and food insecurity. In 2015, 25 per cent of the people in the Occupied Palestinian Territory were unemployed and 66 per cent were food-insecure. In Gaza, unemployment reached 38 per cent in 2015; 73 per cent of the population are in need of humanitarian assistance.”

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