carnegie logo

Babylon & Beyond

Observations from Iraq, Iran,
Israel, the Arab world and beyond

« Previous | Babylon & Beyond Home | Next »

WEST BANK: Political upheaval in Tunisia spurs Palestinian leaders to issue reassurances on own economy

The factors that led to the popular upheaval in Tunisia set off alarm bells throughout the Arab world, and the Palestinian Authority was no different.

Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad spent more than two hours on Sunday talking to 40 Palestinian journalists at his Ramallah office about the economic situation and living conditions in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

The message he wanted to send to 2.5 million Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip was that economic conditions were good in spite of reports on the rise in consumer prices and relatively high unemployment and poverty figures.

The Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics said in a recent report that the consumer price index for 2010 increased by 3.75% compared with the previous year.

The economic situation and the standard of living in the Palestinian areas are a constant concern of the Palestinian Authority, Fayyad said.

Although prices of basic goods have increased, Fayyad said, per-capita income also has increased.

Fayyad, a former World Bank official with a PhD in economics from the University of Texas at Austin, used figures to explain how the Palestinian economy had managed to survive and grow in spite of the fact that the Palestinian territories were still under Israeli occupation and split between the West Bank and Gaza Strip since 2007.

The cumulative cost-of-living increase between 2001 and 2010 was more than 40%, he said. At the same time, cumulative average income also increased by 55%.

The Palestinian economy, after few good years in the late 1990s, declined sharply following the outbreak of the second intifada (uprising) against Israel in the West Bank and Gaza Strip late in 2000. When Fayyad was asked to form a government in June 2007 following the split between the West Bank and Gaza Strip, he had inherited a torn-down economy.

Since then, Fayyad said he had worked to rebuild what was destroyed in the previous years and succeeded, with the recognition of donors and the World Bank, in bringing the economy out of its slump and back to where it was in 2000.

“Going back to the level of where we were in 2000 is not a reward,” Fayyad said. “But we have been able to at least stop the decline.”

The unemployment rate has declined, Fayyad said, though it is still relatively high. There are still 106,000 unemployed people in the West Bank and 112,000 unemployed in the Gaza Strip. The Palestinian Authority employs more than 150,000 people, but about a million work in the private sector or in civil society organizations.

He said that if he were able to start major projects in areas of the West Bank that are still under full Israeli control, referred to as Area C, which makes up about 60% of the area of the West Bank, many more jobs would be created. But he said the occupation impedes economic growth.

The number of people on welfare has increased from 65,000 to 95,000, Fayyad said, adding that the Palestinian Authority is responsible for providing a decent living for these people.

Fayyad said his government was in talks with trade unions, asking what his government could do to make things better.

-- Maher Abukhater in Ramallah, West Bank

Comments () | Archives (6)

Indeed, there is nothing sacred about the 1949 armistice (green) line, which is precisely the reason why the UN Security Council, when it issued resolution 242 didn't mention it.

Also, there is nothing sacred about concepts that came later such as "Palestinians" and a "Palestinian state", neither one of which or even a hint to them is to be found in 242.

242 assumes first and foremost that the existing states in the region, including Israel of course, must be recognized and must exist beyond "secure and recognized boundaries".

To reach that point the relevant sides, i.e. Egypt, Jordan, Syria and Israel, should talk directly and agree on those "secure" boundaries, including, from Israel's perspective, the retaining of the Jordan Valley at "its widest definition possible" as the late Mr. Rabin noted at his last speech at the Knesset. Such boundaries must also include the major settlement blocs, to be incorporated into sovereign Israel as well as Jerusalem and its surrounding suburbs.

It is the Arabs who have rejected all peace offers made by Israel and the international community to date, thus the question is: Do those refusing to accept Israel's right to exist as the nation-state of the Jewish people actually want to achieve peace.

I doubt it very much!!

Naturally all the tyrants and their two face backers are getting nervous, uprising by Sudanese people have made these types worried about their own future, peoples have a right to their own country if they think their government is corrupt and only hanging to power by support from selfish foreign powers, Palestinian Authority and Prime Minister Fayyad can count himself as a vassal of Israel hegemony!

@ Jehudah Ben-Israel - the facts on the ground change, politicians are shifty, populations expand, and plans must also change. Since UNR242 the seven Israeli Wars of Independance demonstrated that the Arabs are unable to govern themselves and their hostility toward Israel is unrelenting and they have no intention of allowing Israel to survive under any terms or within any defined borders as a separate nation. Under those circumstances, the Israelis must be trusted to carve out their own destiny.
The original land deal was not only to Israeli's disadvantage creating two narrow undefendible 'waists' allowing invading armies to cut the country into three parts, the Jordan Valley is necessary for defense from threats from afar - Iran. By placing defensive missiles in the Jorday Valley, Israel can defend agasint incoming Scuds and whatever the name of the Iranian missiles are.
The fact is UNR242 never contemplated the Negev, that was a last minute add-on. There is nothing sacred about UN242 or the 1967 Green Line any more than the seizure of Sephardic Jewish lands in Arab nations.
Taking over Gaza is no solution; 1.4 million people can't live there and no one every historically lived thee in any numbers. Its a refugee camp - no natural resources, no water, no agriculture, no industry - nada. Its a human dumping ground. Its a Arab dominated UN perpetuated anomaly and an Arab crime agasint Arabs.

Let us not forget: the Arab Israeli conflict was to be resolved upon the implementation of UN Security Council Resolution, 242, AS IS!

Accordingly, no new state in the region was part of the plans of the architects of 242 and phrases and concepts such as "Palestine" or "Palestinians" is not to be found in 242.

It was clear to all when 242 passed unanimously at the Security Council and accepted by ALL relevant parties to the conflict: an additional independent Arab state was neither a desirable idea nor a practical one, even under the best of social, political, economic, geographic and historic circumstances.

Thus, it is high time, after all the experimentations with state building to go back to basics and apply 242 AS IS: Israel withdraws its defense forces to "secure and recognized boundaries" and Egypt takes over Gaza, while Jordan takes over most of the West Bank, as an accommodation of peaceful coexistence between the Muslim-Arab world and the nation-state of the Jewish people was designed in the first place.

Research: PA highly dependent on aid

Study shows over 60% of Palestinian Authority's GNP comes from US, EU, UN, World Bank. 'Donations go toward entrenchment of government institutions instead of development of infrastructure, industry, human capital,' say research authors

More than 60% of the Palestinian Authority's Gross National Product comes from the United States, European Union, United Nations, World Bank and others countries, according to a study conducted by economic analyst Eyal Ofer in cooperation with President of Financial Immunities consulting firm Adam Roiter.

According to the study's findings, during 2009 and 2010 the PA's reliance on donations increased – with a 20% growth in donations, totaling some $3.96 per year.,7340,L-4013700,00.html

Mr Fayyad's blaming of Israel for the dire economic conditions of the Palestinians is quite fallacious. The Palestinian Authority has been propped up for for many years now by the International community with Billions of dollars in aids which includes cash and food and commodities. Without this continuing immense economic aid the Palestinian authority including the Gaza authority would cease to exist.

Two thirds of the 150,000 people that the PA employs is in the war machinery that was set for no real purpose but to terrorize Israelis. Huge amounts of money would be saved if it was dismantled. The savings could go to real employment in infrastructure.

The PA also blamed Israel's occupation that impedes their economic growth, but there has been very little done by the PA in all the territories they control towards building any tangent investment towards growth.

The PA also prohibits Palestinian Arabs from being employed by Israelis. Hundreds if not thousands of Palestinians are denied the opportunity to earn wages because of this stupid policy.

Mr Fayyad and his cronies should really stop blaming everyone else for their failures and admit that their policies are not working mostly because they in fact do not want it to work . Why should they as long as the US, the EU and other Arab countries are hand feeding them. They are following in the footsteps of their beloved Arafat who shafted the Palestinian people and became filthy rich from these handouts.


Recommended on Facebook


In Case You Missed It...

Recent News
Introducing World Now |  September 23, 2011, 8:48 am »



About the Contributors