9 February 2006 – Improving infrastructure, gaining greater access to markets and diversifying economic activity are among the measures recommended in a United Nations report issued today aimed at helping to alleviate the economic hardship faced by Palestinians in the West Bank.
The report, issued by the Office of the UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, says that “since 2000 a progressive fragmentation of established patterns of economic activity has taken place in the West Bank, involving the breakdown of relations with Israel, between districts and between urban and rural economies.”
In particular, the report, which was based on extensive field research, focuses on the “negative economic impact on all communities near it” of the construction by Israel of a separation barrier.
The recommendations in the report are aimed at generating ideas for policy discussion among the Palestinian Authority and private sector, donors and humanitarian and development organizations.
It advocates a three-pronged approach for addressing socio-economic needs in rural communities and says some short-term measures are as important as longer-term efforts because of the urgent requirements of some communities.
“Specifically, this report recommends an immediate effort to enhance local infrastructure as this would involve the creation of employment and an injection of cash into the community while at the same time facilitating localized economic activity,” the text states.
It concludes by recommending “continued efforts by all parties concerned to enhance access to markets and employment as this is the key to long-term recovery.”
Today’s report, like other recent ones, acknowledged the extent of the economic problems faced by the Palestinians.
In a similar vein, a report last year by the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) on Assistance to the Palestinian People noted that years of economic retrenchment on top of almost four decades of occupation have increased poverty, reduced and distorted production, and heightened dependence on Israel.