The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) has released a report stating that the Occupied Palestinian Territory has been experiencing suppressed development for the past fifteen years. The report highlights the negative impact of the Israeli blockade on the Gaza Strip, which has resulted in a significant decline in real GDP per capita and a sharp increase in unemployment and poverty.
According to the report, since 2007, when the blockade was implemented, the population of Gaza has increased by 61%. However, GDP growth has only reached 1.1%, and real GDP per capita has decreased by 27%. In 2006, the real GDP per capita was $1,994, but by 2022, it had declined to $1,257. In comparison, the West Bank has experienced more positive economic growth, with its real GDP per capita reaching $2,923 in 2006 and $4,458 in 2022.
The report also highlights the widening regional disparity in living conditions. As a result of the blockade, Gaza’s share in the Palestinian economy has decreased from 31% to 17.4%. This has had severe consequences on the labor force, which has grown by 112% within the same period. The number of unemployed workers has increased by 157%, resulting in a high unemployment rate of 45.3%, one of the highest in the world.
The report points out that the economic conditions in Gaza have been significantly distorted due to restrictions on movement, limited access to imported inputs, and the destruction of the productive base. Furthermore, Gaza has been isolated from both domestic and global markets, exacerbating the challenges faced by its economy.
The impact of the Israeli occupation on the Palestinian economy is evident when comparing historical data. In 1994, when the Palestinian National Authority was established, Gaza had similar living standards to the West Bank, with a ratio of GDP per capita to that of the West Bank at 97%. However, this ratio has drastically declined to 27.7% in 2021, reflecting the detrimental effects of restrictions and closures.
UNCTAD warns that the economic prospects for the Palestinian territory remain bleak as long as occupation-related constraints persist. The organization emphasizes that occupation-related restrictions have a far greater impact on the economy than other factors such as improving the business climate or infrastructure.
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) supports this perspective by estimating that the loosening of occupation-related restrictions would have a three times greater impact on the economy compared to improving the Palestinian business climate, electricity, and water supply.
In conclusion, the UNCTAD report sheds light on the suppressed development in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, specifically in the Gaza Strip. The Israeli blockade has resulted in a significant decline in GDP per capita, a rise in unemployment levels, and increased poverty. The report emphasizes the need to address occupation-related constraints to promote economic development in the region.