The economic costs of the Israeli occupation for the Palestinian people: Arrested development and poverty in the West Bank

Occupation denies the Palestinian people their inalienable human right to development and imposes heavy economic cost on them. The study estimates the cost of the closures and other measures of Israeli occupation in the West Bank since 2000 at $58 billion. It was prepared in response to seven United Nations General Assembly resolutions (69/20, 70/12, 71/20, 72/13, 73/18 and 74/10, 75/20), which request UNCTAD to assess and report on the economic costs of the Israeli occupation for the Palestinian people.

The study provides greater details complementing UNCTAD's report to the 76th session of the General Assembly (A/76/309) entitled “Economic costs of the Israeli occupation for the Palestinian people: poverty in the West Bank between 2000 and 2019”. It indicates that poverty and inequality rose dramatically in the aftermath of the second Intifada and that the minimum cost of eliminating poverty in the West Bank increased six times between 1998 and 2007, from $73 million (constant 2015 US$) to $428 million.

Without the Israeli closures and military operations, the poverty rate in the West Bank in 2004 would have been one third of the observed 35% and GDP per capita in 2019 would have been 44% higher than its actual value. The closures and military operations constrained the capacity of the West Bank regional economy to generate employment and exacerbated its dependence on Israel and its settlements for employment. Without employment in Israel and its settlements, unemployment in the West Bank would have been much higher and would have been comparable to the extremely high unemployment in the Gaza Strip, which averaged 39.8% between 2007 and 2019.

The study recommends lifting all restrictions to enable the Palestinian public and private sectors to establish and operate agricultural, industrial, commercial and mining businesses in Area C (more than 60% of the West Bank area). Meanwhile, for the Palestinian economy to realize its potential, it is critically important to re-establish the contiguity of the Palestinian territory by reconnecting East Jerusalem, all the cities and villages in the West Bank and Gaza Strip with each other.