Israel stifles Palestinian growth, says World Bank

Easing restrictions on land and labour could boost the West Bank’s GDP by 35 per cent

Jerusalem

The Palestinian economy would expand by more than a third if Israeli restrictions on movement, land access and water use are lifted in the majority of the occupied West Bank that remains under full Israeli control, a World Bank report has said.

The report warned of a “bleak” future if Israel did not relinquish its economic strictures in what is known as area C, which comprises 61 per cent of the West Bank, but it also said Palestinians would have to address Israeli security concerns there.

“More than half the land in the West Bank, much of it agriculture and resource rich is inaccessible to the Palestinians,” the report said. “Without the ability to conduct purposeful economic activity in area C, the economic space of the West Bank will remain crowded and stunted, inhabited by people whose daily interactions with the state of Israel are characterised by inconvenience, expense and frustration.”

The report, which was welcomed by Palestinians, but criticised by Israel’s foreign ministry, comes two weeks after Tony Blair, in his capacity as envoy of the Middle East peacemaking quartet, unveiled at the United Nations plans for a major effort to boost the Palestinian private sector including in construction, housing, and agriculture. Mr Blair said success would depend among other things on Israel’s implementing “large scale easing measures”.

While the World Bank said there has been some easing of movement and access restrictions in recent years, it stressed that they still “fragment” the West Bank and cause major economic damage. At the end of 2012, sixty Palestinian communities were still compelled to use detours that are 2 to 5 times longer than the direct route to the closest city, the report said. Israel has said the restrictions are needed to prevent Palestinian attacks, but Palestinians charge that they constitute economic warfare. The report said movement of people and goods “is severely limited by a multi-layered system of physical, institutional and administrative impediments. Physical barriers are compounded by unpredictable regulatory measures and practices.”

The report added that Palestinian agriculture is stymied by Israeli restrictions on accessing land and on water use and would undergo a major transformation if curbs were lifted. It cited the formidable output of Israeli settlements in date and pomegranate production, noting most Palestinian cultivation is still of olives due to their relatively low water requirement.

The report said that minerals from the Dead Sea, including potash and bromide, could become a major boon for the Palestinian economy as they have for Jordan and Israel and that Palestinians could also open hotels on the Dead Sea shore.

“The total potential value added for alleviating today’s restrictions on the access to and activity and production in area C is likely to amount to $3.4bn or thirty five per cent of Palestinian GDP in 2011,” the report said. It estimated that Palestinian unemployment would shrink by more than a third if the strictures were eased and that the need for foreign donor support would be reduced.

Israeli foreign ministry spokesman Paul Hirschson criticised the report as “incomplete and partial”.

“It ignores the global economic situation, violence in Palestinian society and the fact that Israel has spoken of the need to nurture the Palestinian economy, including area C, and has done so.” he said. Mr Hirschson said that issues in the report would be discussed in the peace negotiations that resumed in July

Samir Abdallah, director of the Ramallah based Palestinian Economic Policy Research Institute, praised the report as being “an objective assessment”.

“I’m sure lifting restrictions in area C will have a meaningful and dramatic impact on the growth of the Palestinian economy,” he said.

He did not rule out that Mr Blair’s efforts could produce some results. “Our experience with Tony Blair is that he promises, but that his delivery has not been impressive. Now he’s backed by this plan and the Americans so this time let’s wait and see.”

News
Susan Sarandon described David Bowie as
peopleSusan Sarandon reveals more on her David Bowie romance
Sport
Arsenal supporters gather for a recent ‘fan party’ in New Jersey
football
News
i100
Sport
sportDidier Drogba returns to Chelsea on one-year deal
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebookA powerful collection of reportage on Egypt’s cycle of awakening and relapse
Arts and Entertainment
The Secret Cinema performance of Back to the Future has been cancelled again
film
Life and Style
Balmain's autumn/winter 2014 campaign, shot by Mario Sorrenti and featuring Binx Walton, Cara Delevingne, Jourdan Dunn, Ysaunny Brito, Issa Lish and Kayla Scott
fashionHow Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Christian Grey cradles Ana in the Fifty Shades of Grey film
filmFifty Shades of Grey trailer provokes moral outrage in US
News
people
News
BBC broadcaster and presenter Evan Davis, who will be taking over from Jeremy Paxman on Newsnight
peopleForget Paxman - what will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
Life and Style
fashionCustomer complained about the visibly protruding ribs
News
newsComedy club forced to apologise as maggots eating a dead pigeon fall out of air-conditioning
Arts and Entertainment
Jo Brand says she's mellowed a lot
tvJo Brand says shows encourage people to laugh at the vulnerable
Life and Style
People may feel that they're procrastinating by watching TV in the evening
life
News
Tovey says of homeless charity the Pillion Trust : 'If it weren't for them and the park attendant I wouldn't be here today.'
people
Sport
Rhys Williams
commonwealth games
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Employment Solicitor

Highly Competitive Salary: Austen Lloyd: MANCHESTER - Senior Employment Solici...

Senior Risk Manager - Banking - London - £650

£600 - £650 per day: Orgtel: Conduct Risk Liaison Manager - Banking - London -...

Commercial Litigation Associate

Highly Attractive Package: Austen Lloyd: CITY - COMMERCIAL LITIGATION - GLOBAL...

Systems Manager - Dynamics AX

£65000 - £75000 per annum + Benefits: Progressive Recruitment: The client is a...

Day In a Page

Evan Davis: The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing to take over at Newsnight

The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing

What will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
Finding the names for America’s shame: What happens to the immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert?

Finding the names for America’s shame

The immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert
Inside a church for Born Again Christians: Speaking to God in a Manchester multiplex

Inside a church for Born Again Christians

As Britain's Anglican church struggles to establish its modern identity, one branch of Christianity is booming
Rihanna, Kim Kardashian and me: How Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Parisian couturier Pierre Balmain made his name dressing the mid-century jet set. Today, Olivier Rousteing – heir to the house Pierre built – is celebrating their 21st-century equivalents. The result? Nothing short of Balmania
Cancer, cardiac arrest, HIV and homelessness - and he's only 39

Incredible survival story of David Tovey

Tovey went from cooking for the Queen to rifling through bins for his supper. His is a startling story of endurance against the odds – and of a social safety net failing at every turn
Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little