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Publication(Washington, DC, 2015-09-30) World BankPalestinians are getting poorer on average for the third year in a row. As evidenced in previous World Bank reports, the competitiveness of the Palestinian economy has been progressively eroding since the signing of the Oslo accords, in particular its industry and agriculture. Even though donor aid had increased government-funded services and fueled consumption-driven growth during 2007 to 2011, this growth model has proved unsustainable. Donor support has significantly declined in recent years and, in any case, aid cannot sustainably make up for inadequate private investment. Thus, growth has started to slow since 2012 and the Palestinian economy contracted in 2014 following the Gaza war. In early 2015, GDP was still lower than it was a year ago. Due to population growth, real GDP per capita has been shrinking since 2013. Unemployment remains high, particularly amongst Gaza’s youth where it exceeds 60 percent, and 25 percent of Palestinians currently live in poverty. Against the backdrop of weak economic growth, reduced donor aid, and temporary suspension of revenue payments by the Government of Israel (GoI), the Palestinian Authority’s reform efforts have not been able to prevent another year with a financing gap. The persistence of this situation could potentially lead to political and social unrest. In short, the status quo is not sustainable and downside risks of further conflict and social unrest are high.
Publication(Washington, DC, 2014-01) World Bank GroupThis Investment Climate Assessment (ICA) seeks to evaluate the conditions under which the Palestinian private sector currently operates in the West Bank (including East Jerusalem) and the Gaza strip. This assessment is both an update and expansion on a similar assessment undertaken by the World Bank in 2006. As such, it provides both a snapshot of the investment climate in 2013, as well as a longitudinal view of what has changed in the intervening seven years and, just as importantly, what has not. Where relevant, it also compares indicators of the Palestinian investment climate with those of other countries in the region and beyond. The objective of this assessment is to provide the Palestinian business community, the Palestinian Authority (PA), and the international development community with an empirical analysis of the investment climate under which Palestinian businesses operate. The report describes the key constraints on business and investment and identifies reform priorities for those aspects of the investment climate and constraints which are within the PA's control, as well as some policy recommendations for areas outside of the PA's control, but within the domain of development partner assistance agendas and/or Israeli policies. This analysis is intended to inform Palestinian policy-maker actions to improve the business environment. It can also help inform the actions of other concerned parties, including the international development community, regional actors, and the Government of Israel regarding policies that affect Palestinian economic growth and sustainability.
Fiscal Crisis, Economic Prospects: The Imperative for Economic Cohesion in the Palestinian Territories, Economic Monitoring Report to the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2012-09-23) World BankEconomic growth in West Bank and Gaza (WB&G) slowed in the first quarter (Q1) of 2012. The real growth rate is estimated to have reached 5.6 percent, more than three percentage points lower than the Q1 2011 growth figure and almost one percent lower than the growth forecast contained in the Palestinian Authority's (PA's) budget. This decline is attributed to a major slowdown in Gaza, where real growth decreased from 21.3 percent to 6 percent on a year-on-year basis. The slowdown in Gaza during Q1 of 2012 was mainly attributed to a major decline in the agriculture and fishing sector, which offset much of the growth witnessed in other sectors. This sector shrank by 43 percent in Q1 2012 due to frequent power outages resulting from the lack of fuel in Gaza. Nevertheless, other sectors in Gaza expanded and the highest growth levels were witnessed in the construction, and hotels and restaurants sectors. In the West Bank, growth in Q1 2012 was broadly unchanged from its 2011 level. Most of the growth was from an expansion of services, which contributed around 2.2 percentage points of the 5.4 percent total growth in Q1 2012. The recent slowdown in economic growth is also reflected in higher unemployment levels. Overall unemployment in WB&G was 20.9 percent in the second quarter of 2012 compared to 18.7 percent during the same period in 2011. A serious concern in WB&G is the high level of youth unemployment that is accompanied by low youth participation in the labor force.
Publication(Washington, DC, 2002-07) World BankIn light of deteriorating economic relations between Israel and the West Bank and Gaza, and suspended peace negotiations, it is timely at this juncture between the lapsed Interim Period and a final status agreement to examine past experience with a view to assessing the policy choices facing Palestinian policymakers in the future. The post-Oslo experience points to failed economic normalization and income convergence with Israel. Several reasons for these failures have been advanced, including poor implementation of the Paris Protocol, as well as fundamental flaws inherent to the protocol itself. The experience under the Paris Protocol illustrates the degree to which political and economic factors are intertwined; both types of factors need to be addressed in a comprehensive framework. The fact that political pressures from Israeli security concerns introduced severe economic hardship on the Palestinians and threatened newly-gained Palestinian autonomy contributed to the unraveling of the interim agreement. The economic environment of uncertainty, risk, costly transactions, and inadequate legal, regulatory and financial institutions hampered private sector development and especially Palestinian-Israeli partnerships and business networks at the firm level, effectively weakening an important tie that holds civil society together. These factors further undermined Palestinian economic growth, laying the foundation for political crisis and civil conflict. Given the problems associated with the existing policy framework, this analysis examines alternative policy options that will face Palestinian policymakers in the event of a peace agreement with Israel. These future policy choices relate to trade, labor mobility to Israel, and the business environment and associated public-private interactions. In a first stage, each policy area is analyzed separately, that is, in a partial equilibrium context independent of the others without accounting for broader intersectoral relationships. In a second stage, the analysis brings together these separate areas into an integrated framework. A range of assumptions vis-e-vis the nature of borders between West Bank and Gaza and Israel is delineated, tying together the trade, labor and private sector development considerations to measure their combined impact on growth prospects. The analysis develops scenarios to reflect different combinations of future policy options linked to the nature of borders with Israel. This simulation exercise illustrates the relative merits of each scenario, the associated trade-offs, and the prospects for economic growth in the event of a peace agreement and a completion of final status negotiations.