Palestine and the Palestinians in the 21st Century

By Rochelle Davis; Mimi Kirk | Go to book overview

2. Colonial Occupation and
Development in the
West Bank and Gaza
Understanding the Palestinian Economy
through the Work of Yusif Sayigh

LEILA FARSAKH

The Oslo peace process initiated in 1993 brought hopes for the emergence of a vibrant economy in the West Bank and Gaza Strip (WBGS), one that would provide a solid foundation for the establishment of a viable Palestinian state. Yet Palestinian economic growth since 1993 has been marked by major fluctuations and unsustainability. Palestinian real GDP per capita income in the West Bank and Gaza in 2007 was 30 percent lower than in 1999. Poverty touched 49 percent of Gaza and 25 percent of the West Bank in 2007.1 The 2008–2009 Israeli war on Gaza destroyed whatever remained of Palestinian economic activity there, demolishing major social and economic infrastructure at a total estimated cost of $1.4 billion. The siege imposed on it since 2006 further severed its links to the West Bank, putting in jeopardy the unity of the Palestinian economy. Although real GDP grew by over 5 percent in the West Bank and by more than 9 percent in the Gaza Strip from 2009 to 2012, it was mainly fueled by international assistance, which amounted to over 20 percent of GDP.2 Poverty rates still stood at 33.7 percent in the Gaza Strip in 2010, where over 71 percent of the population receives some form of aid.3 The Israeli war on Gaza in November 2012 further proved the unsustainability of growth in the Occupied Territories.

This chapter analyzes Palestinian economic development over the past twenty years in light of the structural changes that have brought about the

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