EAST JERUSALEM — Poverty plagues the Palestinian territories, consisting of Gaza and the West Bank. Since the creation of the state of Israel, the two regions have had a contentious relationship, conflicting over land and resource allocation. In recent years, key facts and figures in Palestinian territories have shown that the region’s economy is in decline.
During the Oslo peace process, between 1993-2000, it was speculated that Palestinian territories would experience more economic growth. However, as conflict developed with Israel, the economy experienced major setbacks.
Mary Koussa, a communications associate for the World Bank, said, “Over time, the Palestinian economy has been losing its capacity to compete in the global markets because the structure of the economy has substantially deteriorated since the 1990s due to the Israeli restrictions and a poor business climate.”
Koussa said that the manufacturing sector in particular, considered a key driver of export-led growth, has lost momentum. She added that its GDP has dropped by eight percent between 1994-2015. In addition, the agriculture sector has declined from 12 percent to four percent over the same time span. Over the past two decades, the majority of growth in Palestine’s economy came from the public sector services. This, she said, is due to large amounts of donor inflows.
The World Bank reported that in 2015, Gaza and the West Bank had a population of nearly 4.5 million. The GDP was $12.68 billion, and the GDP growth was approximately 12.4 percent. While this shows recent growth in the area, economic development in the region is not sustainable and is often unpredictable.
According to a 2011 report from the World Bank, approximately 26 percent of the population lives below the national poverty line. In the West Bank and Gaza, 18 and 38 percent live below the poverty line respectively.
Collectively, the unemployment rate in Palestinian territories is approximately 27 percent. Unemployment is at 19 percent in the West Bank and at 41 percent in Gaza.
According to a report by Palestinian Media Watch, about 20.4 percent of wage employees in the private sector received less than the minimum monthly wage in 2015. Those similarly employed in Gaza were paid 70.7 percent less than the minimum monthly wage.
While the facts and figures in Palestinian territories continue to change, they continue to show an economy that struggles to gain traction and provide living wages for citizens with lots of room for improvement.
– Leah Potter