The growth of the Palestinian economy will continue to be stunted so long as Israel continues to impose restrictions on the freedom of movement and withhold PA-owned money, a report a published by the World Bank has indicated. The free trade of goods in the Palestinian territories is hampered by the fact that much of the West Bank is inaccessible by ordinary Palestinians. This situation is exacerbated by the negative effect that the withholding of PA-owned money and the financial embargo imposed on the Hams-led national unity government has had on an economy already heavily dependent on foreign aid, the World Bank report indicates.

‘In economic terms, the restrictions create such a high level of uncertainty and inefficiency that the normal conduct of business becomes exceedingly difficult and stymies the growth and investment necessary to fuel economic revival. Sustainable economic recovery will remain elusive if large areas of the West Bank remain inaccessible for economic purposes,” states the report.

While noting the effects of Israeli measures on the Palestinian economy and its people, the publication notes that such measures have been enacted because of Israel’s so-called ‘legitimate’ security concerns in the area.

Unemployment in the Palestinian territories currently stands at over 50%. Conservative estimates suggest that around two-thirds of the population live below the poverty line. In the aftermath of the election of Hamas as the majority party in the Unity Government, the international community has imposed a financial embargo on the PA that has left it unable to pay, in full, the salaries of its civil service employees.

At present, the West Bank is home to approximately 600 various mechanisms that restrict Palestinian access to certain areas, including roadblocks, checkpoints, trenches and walls.