The UN released a report on Monday stating Palestinian territory could “easily produce” twice the GDP it’s currently producing if Israeli occupation were to end. Unsurprisingly, unemployment and poverty would drastically be reduced as well. Here’s a summary of the studies the UN and why they matter.
Natural Resources & Trade
Even in non-occupied territories, Palestinians do not have access to their own groundwater supply and are restricted from digging wells. Israel confiscates a whopping 82% of the Palestinian water supply and forces residents to buy back their own water by importing it from Israel.
Israeli settlements are a hindrance to the Palestinian economy for a few reasons. First of all, more than 66% of grazing land is not available to Palestinian farmers. In Gaza, Palestinians only have access to about have of the farmable land and 15% of fishing areas.
The report estimates that about 800,000 olive trees– a very profitable resource– have been vandalized or removed from Palestinian territory since Israel’s formation. In January of last year alone, 5,600 trees were uprooted.
As a “captive market,” Israel can withhold resources via settlements and then skyrocket fees on products imported into Palestine. The UN blames Israel for about 54% of Palestine’s trade deficit stating the Palestinian National Authority has over-payed fees to Israel to the tune of about $50 million.
The UN report estimates that due to decades of occupation, the Palestinian economy has lost about $4.4 billion dollars — and that’s only in the West Bank.
Human Rights and a Fractured Two-State Solution
First of all, Palestinian per capita income is down. The UN says this can once again be directly traced back to Israel withholding Palestinian tax revenue and making it very difficult — if not impossible — for foreign aid to reach Palestinian citizens.
Since Israel claims Palestinian citizens are a chronic threat to their existence, they have placed a blockade on Palestine banning various essential common goods from entering occupied territories.
If you’ve ever been to a jail or prison, the rules on contraband are pretty similar: anything that could have a dual use is not allowed in. This includes telecommunication equipment, steel, and any wood more than 1 centimeter thick. Clearly the plan is to demolish homes, and then ban any supplies that the Palestinians could possibly use to rebuild them or any other infrastructure.
To top this off, homes on Palestinian land were demolished at record levels in 2016 compared to the previous year. Israel has 142 settlements on Palestinian land with Israeli settlers making up about 1/5th of the population. The more settlements are built and the more Israeli settlers move-in to Palestinian land, the farther out of reach a two-state solution becomes.
The report also concludes that Palestinian citizens do not have proper access to medical care and as a result, infant mortality rates have gone up: about 20 per 1,000 live births. As of last year, 38% of Palestinians were unemployed, 66% were food scarce and nearly three-quarters were in need of humanitarian assistance or aid.
The Palestinians have been strangled, pushed around, and deprived of resources for decades. Now that the UN can prove it might actually be hurting the global economy, maybe a solution will finally see the light of day.