4 updates on the Palestinian economy

The Palestinian economy may still dwarf in size compared to its Israeli neighbour. It still looks to the international community – particularly the World Bank and the EU – for taxpayers handouts. That said, times are a changing.

1. Exports

The security situation has finally eased enough for Israel to enable trade to recommence between Gaza and the West Bank. On 6 March, after negotiations with the World Food Programme (WFP), 13 lorry loads of date bars from Gaza were transferred to the West Bank, the first such transfer since 2007.

2. Business Development Loans

Thousands of young Palestinians will receive access to financial loans to support their new businesses through a United Nations-backed initiative, which seeks to stimulate the creation of new jobs. The “Mubadarati” loan programme will be carried out by the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) in collaboration with Silatech, a social enterprise company that focuses on creating opportunities for youth in the Arab world.

3. Energy

On a slightly negative note, one problem which continues to plague the Palestinian economy is the lack of continuous energy in Gaza, most of which is supplied via Egypt. Ismail Haniyeh, the Hamas Prime Minister in Gaza, has been quoted as blaming his friends in Cairo. Although a temporary solution has been found, it looks as if factories will be operating on a shortened working week for sometime to come.

4. Israeli involvement – Healthcare

While Palestinians and Israelis are not known for being the best of friends, in the medical sphere the story is often different. Palestinian journalist, Abu Khaled Toameh reported this week that the Palestinian Health Minister, Fathi Abu Mughli, organised a tour of Ramallah by an Israeli team of professionals – although the visit was cut short after strong local protests.

This is no new phenomenon. Israel has consistently proved its willingness to cooperate in the medical arena. Official stats show that in December 2011 and again in January 2012, around 1,400 humanitarian permits were issued to allow Palestinian patients and accompanying relatives into Israel. Back in May 2011, the Sheba hospital near Tel Aviv had supported a project to enable 1,000 Palestinians in the Tulkarm area to receive hearing aids.

Just how large are economies in the Middle East? The World Factbook puts the Palestinian GDP per person at US$2,800. Israel’s figure is over US$31,000. The countries of Qatar, UAE and Saudi Arabia leave everyone way behind.

Yet you have to wonder if these kingdoms invest in their Palestinian friends as Israel does.

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One Comment on “4 updates on the Palestinian economy”

  1. David Says:

    Hmmm…you omit Gaza’s #1 export: 100 rockets in two days.


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