AFP – The Palestinian economy could expand by over a third if Israel were to lift its restrictions on about 60% of the West Bank that it controls, the World Bank said in a report published Tuesday.
“More than half the land in the West Bank, much of it agricultural and resource rich, is inaccessible to Palestinians,” said the World Bank.
“The first comprehensive study of the potential impact of this ‘restricted land,’ released by the World Bank today, sets the current loss to the Palestinian economy at about US$3.4 billion (€2.5 billion),” it added.
If businesses and farms were allowed to develop in the territory, “this would add as much as 35% to the Palestinian GDP,” it estimated.
The World Bank report came about a fortnight after the Middle East Quartet published a plan to revive the ailing Palestinian economy, in an effort to support peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians.
The three-year “Palestinian Economic Initiative” would focus on private sector growth. It identified eight key sectors targeted for development, including construction and building materials, agriculture, energy and water, and tourism.
The International Monetary Fund has estimated that the Palestinian GDP growth would slow from 11% in 2011 and 5.9% in 2012 to 4.5% by the end of this year.