More than half the land in the West Bank, much of it agricultural and resource rich, is inaccessible to Palestinians, because of Israeli security restrictions. The first comprehensive study of the potential economic impact of this “restricted land,” released by the World Bank on Oct. 8, sets the current loss to the Palestinian economy at about $3.4 billion. With growth of approximately 6 percent annually needed to absorb new entrants to the labor market, let alone make a dent in the soaring rate of youth unemployment, urgent attention is needed to find ways to grow the West Bank economy and create jobs, according to the World Bank.
The Palestinian economy, which currently relies on donor-financed consumption and suffers from ongoing stagnation of the private sector, is unsustainable, World Bank analysts argue. The report estimates that if businesses and farms were permitted to develop in Area C, under Israeli control, this would add as much as 35 percent to the Palestinian gross domestic product.