A new report by United Nations has strongly condemned Israel for the “de-development” and “deteriorating humanitarian conditions” of occupied Palestinian territories of East Jerusalem, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, Al Jazeera reports.
The report by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), published on Tuesday, said the performance of the Palestinian economy is “far below potential”, while unemployment has persisted at levels rarely seen worldwide since the Great Depression.
“2017 marks the fiftieth anniversary of the Israeli occupation of the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem; the longest occupation in recent history. For the Palestinian people, these were five decades of de-development, suppressed human potential and denial of the basic human right to development, with no end in sight,” the report states.
“Instead of the hoped-for two-State solution envisaged by the United Nations and the international community, occupation is currently even more entrenched, while its complex socioeconomic toll has worsened over time.”
Among other issues, the report reviews the steady decline in gross domestic product (GDP) growth over the past two decades, the imposition of Palestinian economic dependence on Israel, the theft of Palestinian natural resources, and Gaza’s isolation. It reaffirms a previous finding that the Palestinian economy would be at least twice as large if the occupation were lifted.
The primary causes for the economic stagnation include “continuing loss of land and natural resources to settlements and the annexation of land in the West Bank”, along with market fragmentation and Israeli-imposed import restrictions, the report notes.
Palestinians in the occupied territories have not had full control over their economy since 1967 when Israel occupied East Jerusalem, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.
Although the Palestinian Authority (PA) was established in 1994 with the hope of creating an independent Palestinian state and economy, expansion of illegal Israeli settlements and the building of the separation wall have made this goal increasingly difficult to achieve.
Israel also has direct control over more than 60 percent of the West Bank, including most of its natural resources.
All of Israel’s illegal settlements in the West Bank, numbering around 125, are located in Area C, where at least 300,000 Palestinians live. Israel prohibits Palestinian construction and development in about 70 percent of this area.
“[T]he increasing belligerence of occupation presents a two-fold challenge, because it denies the Palestinian people access to their natural and economic resources and at the same time discourages donor support by minimizing development gains,” the UN report states.