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World Bank: Palestinian economy loses billions due to West Bank restrictions - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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Palestinian farmers inspect their greenhouses at a farm in Gaza City on September 19, 2013 (AFP PHOTO / MOHAMMED ABED)

Palestinian farmers inspect their greenhouses at a farm in Gaza City on September 19, 2013 (AFP PHOTO / MOHAMMED ABED)

London, Asharq Al-Awsat—Israeli control of large parts of the West Bank is costing the Palestinian territories a sum equivalent to up to 35 percent of its GDP, a new report from the World Bank suggests.

The report, published on Wednesday estimates that USD 3.4 billion is lost every year because land suitable for agriculture or resource extraction is unavailable to the West Bank’s Palestinian population.

More than 60 percent of the West Bank was designated ‘Area C’ under the 1995 Interim Agreement following the signature of the Oslo Accords, and was to be transferred to Palestinian control as the peace process continued. However, the land remains under Israeli control today, thanks to the collapse of the peace process.

The area includes Israeli settlements, and encompasses much of the territory along the Jordanian border, as well as separating areas under Palestinian control in the western half of the West Bank.

The report says “access to this area for most kinds of economic activity has been severely limited…The manner in which Area C is currently administered virtually precludes Palestinian businesses from investing there.”

The report estimates that usage of the land could add as much as USD 2.2 billion value a year to the Palestinian economy directly as a result of agriculture, stone quarrying, the extraction of minerals from the Dead Sea, tourism and other industries, as well as another USD 1.2 billion indirectly.

In a statement issued to accompany the report, the World Bank’s director for Gaza and the West Bank Mariam Sherman, said: “Access to Area C will go a long way to solving Palestinian economic problems.”

“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 added.

Asharq Al-Awsat

Asharq Al-Awsat

Asharq Al-Awsat is the world’s premier pan-Arab daily newspaper, printed simultaneously each day on four continents in 14 cities. Launched in London in 1978, Asharq Al-Awsat has established itself as the decisive publication on pan-Arab and international affairs, offering its readers in-depth analysis and exclusive editorials, as well as the most comprehensive coverage of the entire Arab world.

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