In a report published Wednesday, the World Bank stated that the
economic crisis caused by the Israeli-imposed blockade of all imports
and exports into the Israeli-occupied Palestinian territories (the West
Bank and Gaza Strip) since March has caused 2006 to be the worst year
so far in Palestinian history.

"We are now facing a severe economic crisis in Gaza and the West Bank – one that risks reversing the combined efforts of the past 13 years towards a sustainable economy," the report stated.

In the report, published Wednesday, written by the World Bank's Director for the West Bank and Gaza Strip, David Craig, the World Bank revealed that the average Palestinian's personal income would fall by 40 percent by the end of 2006 if the current trend continues, while the rate of poverty would rise to 67 percent of the population.

It also estimated that growth per capita in the Palestinian territory would fall by 27 percent in 2006, while personal income would decline by 30 percent — a one-year contraction of economic activity equivalent to a deep depression.

The World Bank said unemployment would rise to 47 percent and poverty to 74 percent by 2008. The poverty rate was 44 percent in 2005.

By 2008, the World Bank said, the cumulative decline in real growth since 1999 would reach 55 percent.