One-Third of Palestinians are Jobless as the Wall Exacerbates the Economic Crisis, UNCTAD Report
IPC | August 27,2005
The United Nations Conference for Trade and Development (UNCTAD) reported that the Palestinian economy has sharply deteriorated since the beginning of Al Aqsa Intifada in 2000.
UNCTAD's report revealed that the Palestinian economy is facing serious setbacks, figuring out that the unemployment remained high; one third of the labor force was jobless at the end of 2004. Some 61 percent of households were living below the poverty line of $350 per month.
"Prescriptions for Palestinian economic recovery must take into account the Israeli occupation, protracted conflict since 2000, and the imperatives created by the unilateral Israeli withdrawal from Gaza," an UNCTAD report warned.
The UNCTAD report recommends that the focus should be on forming institutions that will serve the needs of an upcoming Palestinian state rather than aiming solely at reforming a transitional government, and that efforts to economic revival should target poverty reduction while expanding production and trade. .
The UNCTAD reported that the Palestinian trade deficit increased faster the domestic production - from $1.8 billion in 2001 to $2.6 billion in 2004, representing 65% of GDP - with two thirds of this deficit arising from the chronic imbalance in trade with Israel.
The Palestinian economy depends over the years of the Intifada on aid by the International community after most of the Palestinian workers, who depend on working in Israel, were not allowed entry as a result of closure imposed by the army.
The report also called on the Palestinian Authority to fight poverty and increased the productivity of the Palestinian economy which has sharply deteriorated as a result of the Israeli polices in the occupied territories.
"Decades of occupation made the Palestinian economy totally dependant on Israel, this should be corrected, and the Palestinian economy should be independent and productive".
"The economic and physical capital costs of the crisis were even greater. Over the past five years, the estimated opportunity loss of GDP was around $6.4 billion, equivalent to 140% of the size of the economy prior to 2000. During the same period, capital losses were estimated at some $3.5 billion, or 30% of pre-2000 West Bank and Gaza capital stock."
The report warned that the continuation of building the Apartheid Wall and settlements in the occupied territories erodes the Palestinian productive capacities in the West bank and the Gaza Strip and people's ability to feed themselves.
"The confiscation and leveling of Palestinian lands by Israel has substantially undermined the agricultural sector" the report contends,
"By mid-2004, total agricultural land loss in the West Bank and Gaza was around 260 sq. km., representing 15% of Palestine's cultivated area in 2003.