Blockade costs Palestinians $774 million
Israel's sealing of the West Bank and Gaza Strip has dealt a devastating blow to the Palestinian economy causing losses of $774 million, according to a report by the Palestinian Authority released Wednesday. "These draconian Israeli measures ... threaten to throw the Palestinian economy, once again, back into a devastating recession," according to the report submitted to France in its capacity as current holder of the rotating EU presidency.
"And most importantly, they will further threaten the peace and stability in the region we have sought after for so long," said the report, a copy of which was given to AFP. The report said the losses, calculated since early October after the outbreak of violence, exceed the financial assistance given by the donor community in 1999 to finance projects by the Palestinian Authority.
Hardest hit by Israel's decision to seal off the territories are the Palestinian industrial, agriculture and tourism sectors, which have incurred $438 million in losses, according to the report. It said income lost by the estimated 125,000 Palestinians working in Israel's industrial sector amounts to $126 million.
The remaining losses are related to unrealized tax revenue, the destruction of infrastructure and Israel's decision to freeze transfers of funds due to the Palestinian Authority. The report warned that if Israel failed to lift its blockade within three months, GNP would fall by $630 million, income per capita would drop by 11 percent and the number of Palestinians living beneath the poverty line would jump to about 30 percent.
Israel sealed off the territories last month in reaction to the upsurge of violence in which more than 260 people, the vast majority Palestinians, have so far been killed. — (AFP, Paris)
© Agence France Presse 2000
© 2000 Mena Report (www.menareport.com)