Israeli illegal bans cost Palestinians $3.4 bln annually

Israeli illegal bans cost Palestinians $3.4 bln annually
Tue Oct 8, 2013 17:21:42

Israeli illegal economic restrictions on the West Bank’s Area C deprive Palestinians from a potential $3.4 billion raise in their annual GDP, according to a report released by the World Bank.

“Access to Area C will go a long way to solving Palestinian economic problems,” said Mariam Sherman, the outgoing World Bank Country Director for the Palestinian territories.

“The alternative is bleak. Without the ability to utilize the potential of Area C, the economic space will remain fragmented and stunted. Lifting multiple restrictions could transform the economy and substantially improve prospects for sustained growth," she said.

"The key to Palestinian prosperity continues to lie in the removal of these restrictions," the report said.

The report explained that most of the West Bank's natural resources and the land for agriculture and development are located in Area C of the West Bank, which is under Israeli occupation.

Some 6.6% of the Palestinian population or 180,000 people live in Area C of the West Bank, according to the report.

Most of the Palestinians live in Areas A and B of the West Bank.

The report focused on an analysis of the problems and the steps needed to increase private sector productivity in agriculture, tourism, telecommunications, construction, quarrying and mining Dead Sea minerals.

Agriculture and the Dead Sea offer Palestinians the most economic growth potential for the private sector, the report said.

The bulk of farmland in Area C belongs to Palestinians, 326,400 dunams, compared with 187,000 dunams that are attached to Israeli settlements, the report said.

But Palestinians lack the water necessary to irrigate the land and to maximize its use for agriculture production, the report said.

Under the terms of the Oslo Accords, Palestinians are allocated 135.5 MCM annually, or 20% of estimated availability, instead of the needed 189 MCM, the report said.

If they had accessibility and the resources to fully farm their land, Palestinians could add $704 million annually into the their economy, the equivalent of 7% of their GDP in 2011, according to the report.

Palestinians could also bring $918 million, 9% of their GDP in 2011, into their economy annually if they could harvest minerals such as potash and bromine from the Dead Sea as Israeli regime and Jordan do, the report said. These two earn $4.2 billion in annual sales, which account for 6% of the world's potash supply and 73% of the global bromine output, the report said.

The Palestinian tourism industry could receive a boost of $126 million annually or 1% of the 2011 GDP, if it could create Dead Sea hotel complexes comparable with what Israel has, the report said.


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