Israel’s control of the occupied West Bank between 2000 and 2017 cost the Palestinian people approximately $47.7 billion and rising, according to a UN report published last week.
This equates to more than $2.5 billion annually.
Entitled “Economic cost of the Israeli occupation for the Palestinian people: Fiscal aspects,” the report stated this situation has weakened the Palestinian economy, stripping it of the ability to benefit from economic resources in agriculture, tourism, trade and natural resources, which could have reduced the Palestinian budget deficit.
Presented at the Palestine Economic Policy Research Institute (MAS) in the West Bank city of Ramallah, the $47.7 billion figure over 17 years is almost triple the Palestinian GDP in 2017, the report said.
It illustrates how Israel is making enormous profit from its occupation, while deliberately causing huge financial loses to the Palestinian economy.
The UN report noted that if the same amount was invested in the Palestinian economy, they would have created two million jobs over the 17-year period, an average of 111,000 jobs each year.
Home to more than 1.5 million Palestinians, Gaza’s unemployment rate stands at 52 per cent, according to the World Bank.
The report attributes the fiscal losses to the measures imposed by the Israeli occupation, which include, among others: military operations and actions, the closure imposed on the Gaza Strip, movement and access restrictions in force on the West Bank, the demolition of buildings and the uprooting of trees.
Misyef Jameel, senior researcher at MAS, who worked on the report, said they only measured the direct fiscal impact.
The real figure for all losses was likely much higher, he told AFP news agency.
To cover these fiscal costs the Palestinian government has relied on international aid, borrowed from local banks, and “accumulated arrears with the domestic private sector and rationalised its expenditures,” which have slowed down the drivers of economic growth.
Khaled Al-Osaily, the Palestinian Authority’s minister of national economy, said that the real figure was probably much higher, reported the Israeli newspaper The Jerusalem Post.
“This figure isn’t accurate, where there are indirect costs of the Israeli occupation, that simply can’t be measured,” he said.
“Israel views its illegal occupation of the West Bank as a source of income. It’s a profitable project that generates great revenues for Israel.”