The real average annual GDP growth in the West Bank and  Gaza Strip dropped to 0.7% in the Q1 of 2017 from 2% in 2016.
The real average annual GDP growth in the West Bank and  Gaza Strip dropped to 0.7% in the Q1 of 2017 from 2% in 2016.

World Bank Calls for Bolstering Palestinian Economy

World Bank Calls for Bolstering Palestinian Economy

Even in the absence of an Israel-Palestinian peace deal, steps can be taken now that could significantly brighten a gloomy Palestinian economic situation, the World Bank said on Tuesday.
In a new report it said addressing external constraints on the Palestinian economy “is the most important factor” in any turnaround, but the Palestinian Authority, which administers limited self-rule in the occupied West Bank, also had to do its part to cut red tape stifling business activity, Reuters reported.
Removing Israeli restrictions on Palestinian movement in so-called Area C in the occupied West Bank—where Israel maintains civil and security control—could boost the size of the West Bank economy by one-third in eight years, the World Bank said.
“Such growth would not only be enabled by better access to critical scarce resources, notably land and water, but also other natural resources that would allow Palestinian businesses to take advantage of Area C’s comparative advantages in agriculture, mining and quarrying, and tourism,” it said.
Area C, designated by interim peace deals signed in the 1990s, represents 61% of West Bank territory, and the occupying power cites security concerns for the restrictions it imposes there.
According to the World Bank, currently less than 1% of Area C, which is already built up, is designated by Tel Aviv authorities for Palestinian use, while the remainder is heavily restricted or off-limits to Palestinians.
The report noted recent “encouraging but limited measures” announced by Israel to allow a Palestinian industrial zone and the municipal boundaries of the Palestinian city of Qalqilya to expand into Area C.
Conflict in Gaza and a drop in foreign donor aid combined to slow real average annual GDP growth in the West Bank and Gaza Strip to 2% between 2013 and 2016. It dropped to 0.7% in the first quarter of 2017, the World Bank said.
“Under a baseline scenario which assumes that the current Israeli restrictions remain in place and no improvement in the domestic economic and political environment, real GDP growth of the Palestinian economy is projected to reach 3% in 2017: 2.7% in the West Bank and 4% in Gaza,” the report said. “This growth level implies a near stagnation in real per capita income and an increase in unemployment.”
Based on second quarter 2017 figures cited by the World Bank, employment in the West Bank, home to some 2.6 million people, is at 21%, and 44% in the Gaza Strip, which has a population of two million.

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