New York:Development agency report says Israeli confiscation of Palestinian land, water and other natural resources, as well as widespread restrictions on movement, destruction of homes and expansion of settlements were damaging to the Palestinian economy.
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 Tuesday.
In a new report, the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (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, 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 0.2 percent in 2014, when it was hard-hit by the devastating war in Gaza.
Per capita income remains below its pre-2014 level, the report said.
The 2014 Operation Protective Edge killed more than 2,200 Palestinians 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, 91 percent of damaged houses in Gaza have yet to be rebuilt and 75,000 people remain displaced two years on, UNCTAD said.
UNCTAD also pointed to the dire impact Israel’s control of the so-called “Area C,” which covers 61 percent of the West Bank and 66 percent of its grazing land.
“It is estimated that the occupation of Area C costs the Palestinian economy the equivalent of 35 percent of GDP” ($4.4 billion in 2015), UNCTAD said in a statement.