Israeli occupation may lead to “collapse” of Palestinian finances – UN

GENEVA, Israel’s blockade on Gaza and its occupation has put the Palestinian economy on the brink of collapse, a UN report warned on Tuesday.

The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development said the Palestinian economy last year stagnated as per capita income further fell by 1.7 percent, unemployment increased, poverty deepened, and the environmental toll of occupation rose.

“The short-term economic prospects for Palestine are even grimmer and there are no signs that the negative trends in the key drivers of economic growth will be reversed soon,” it added.

About one in three Palestinians is unemployed, it said, adding Gaza’s unemployment rate is above 50 percent as poverty levels have reached 53 percent in spite of receiving aid from the government and international organizations.

“Gaza is increasingly becoming unliveable under the severe and worsening socioeconomic conditions. In 2018, its local economy contracted by seven percent, leading to a 10 percent decline in its per capita income.” According to the review, the reasons behind this are the “expansion and tightening grip of occupation, suffocation of Gaza’s local economy, a six percent drop in donor support between 2017 and 2018, deterioration of the security situation and lack of confidence as a result of bleak political horizons.

“Even though all sectors of the economy are constrained by occupation, agriculture and manufacturing are disproportionately impacted and the ensuing massive trade deficit adversely affects economic growth,” it added.

“Between 1994 and 2018, the share of manufacturing in the economy shrunk from 20 percent to 11 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP), whereas the share of agriculture and fishing dropped from over 12 percent to less than a paltry three percent,” the report said.

“In the West Bank alone, 705 permanent physical obstacles restrict the movement of Palestinian workers and goods. They include checkpoints, gates, earth mounds, roadblocks and trenches.” The Palestinians are isolated from international markets and are compelled to be economically dependent on Israel, ranking fourth among Israel’s top export markets, behind the US, China and the UK and ahead of nations like, France, Germany and India, said the report.

They are also prevented from developing their oil and natural gas resources in Gaza and the West Bank.

Source: Kuwait News Agency