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The enormous cost of occupation prevents the Palestinian people from achieving the sustainable development goals

Geneva, Switzerland, (21 November 2016)

​Occupation inflicts a heavy economic cost and denies the Palestinian people their human right to development, says an UNCTAD report to be presented to the United Nations General Assembly in the last week of November 2016.

Under General Assembly resolutions 69/20 and 70/12, UNCTAD is tasked with reporting on the economic cost of occupation for the Palestinian people, an essential task which should be made more regular.

There is a need to establish within the United Nations system a systematic, evidence-based, comprehensive and sustainable framework for estimating the economic costs of the occupation and to report on the results to the General Assembly, the report says.

This is not only to fulfil the request contained in resolution 69/20, but also to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals in the Occupied Palestinian Territory.

The report maintains that, since the onset of occupation in 1967, the Palestinian people have never enjoyed sovereign control of their economy, natural resources or territory. They have been denied access to their natural and economic resources, while their water, land, property and other assets have been subjected to confiscation and frequent destruction.

Furthermore, the Palestinian people are denied the right to move freely within their homeland, and are deprived of the ability to produce and conduct normal trade and social transactions within their communities and with the rest of the world. Meanwhile, Israeli settlements continue to expand, new settlements are built and the settler population continues to grow.

More than 61 per cent of West Bank land is under the control of Israel and inaccessible to Palestinian producers. In the Gaza Strip, Palestinians are denied access to half of the cultivable area and 85 per cent of their fishery resources.

Meanwhile, more than 2.5 million productive trees have been uprooted since 1967. The government and Palestinian farmers are prohibited from maintaining or constructing water wells, while the occupying Power has been extracting water above the level determined by article 40 of appendix I of the Oslo II Accord, signed on 28 September 1995, thus confiscating Palestinian groundwater. As such, occupation policies have deformed the structure of the Palestinian economy and set in motion a continuous process of de-agriculturalization and de-industrialization.

The report also highlights the impact of the repeated Israeli military operations in Gaza. The direct damage inflicted by three Israeli military operations, between 2008 and 2014, is estimated as at least 3 times the size of annual production of Gaza's local economy. The total cost of destruction is much higher when taking into account the indirect costs that arise from the loss of human capital and the stream of future incomes from destroyed or damaged productive assets.

Existing research suggests that without occupation the economy of the Occupied Palestinian Territory could easily produce twice the gross domestic product it produces now. Nevertheless, according to the report, all previous studies have been undertaken on an ad hoc basis and have barely scratched the surface of the much larger economic cost of occupation. Therefore, the report recommends to the General Assembly the establishment of a systematic, comprehensive and sustainable framework to assess, on a periodic basis, the economic costs and consequences of evolving measures taken by the occupying Power.

For more information, please contact:
UNCTAD Communications and Information Unit
T: +41 22 917 5828
T: +41 79 502 43 11

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