Half a century of occupation and appropriation of land and resources has impoverished the Palestinian people and, crucially, denied them the right to development, a new UNCTAD study says.
The study suggests that both Israel and the international community have obligations under international and human rights law not only to avoid action that impedes development but to take affirmative steps to foster development in the Occupied Palestinian Territory.
“The international community should shoulder its responsibility to promote development in the Occupied Palestinian Territory and ensure that the occupation and its enduring harm to the welfare of the Palestinian people is ended,” said Mahmoud Elkhafif, Coordinator of the Assistance to the Palestinian People Unit of UNCTAD.
The study highlights the economic costs imposed by occupation in relation to Palestinian agriculture, water resources, fisheries, mining, tourism, communications, manufacturing and human capital.
Under occupation, the Palestinian people and Government are not allowed to carry out essential tasks required for economic and social development to take place. This prevents them from enjoying the inalienable human right to development, which maintains that every human person and all peoples are entitled to freely participate in, contribute to and enjoy economic, social, cultural and political development.
Israeli actions that impose costs for the Palestinian people also include the construction of illegal settlements and a separation barrier in the West Bank. The barrier is being built on a route that protects settlements and takes away significant tracts of Palestinian land, causing major disruptions to Palestinian social life and economic activity.
The study emphasizes that under international law, the occupying authority has obligations to both the people under occupation and the international community as a whole. It follows that the international community bears obligations to support the economic development of the Palestinian people and ensure that Israel complies with international law.
The UNCTAD study, The Economic Costs of the Israeli Occupation for the Palestinian People and Their Human Right to Development: Legal Dimensions, responds to four resolutions of the United Nations General Assembly (resolutions 69/20, 70/12, 71/20 and 72/13) on the role of UNCTAD in reporting on the economic costs of the Israeli occupation for the Palestinian people.
The new study follows a note prepared by the UNCTAD secretariat in 2016 for the General Assembly on the same topic (A/71/174).