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.