March 15, 2013 | Al Monitor
A World Bank report released Tuesday, March 12 warns that the Palestinian economy is now suffering so much from the political stalemate and Israeli restrictions that it is losing its “long-term competitiveness.” This sends a signal to donors to Palestine that without political action, they are pouring their money down the drain, according to Palestinian businessman Sam Bahour.
Checkpoints and military searches, fees and hold-ups on goods going in or out through Israeli ports and restrictions in movement and access to basic necessities such as water and land are just some of the obstacles faced by the Palestinian private sector, leading to a downward-spiraling economy.
A statement issued by the World Bank noted that the “Israeli-imposed economic restrictions continue to constrain [Palestinian] sustainable economic growth,” which is “unlikely to change as long as political progress remains absent.” While this message is similar to that of the World Bank’s report from September 2012, the new report includes an analysis of the impact of the deteriorating fiscal situation and concludes that it is bound to cause long-term structural damage.
Bahour explained that this is the first time the World Bank has looked at long-term effects and boldly called on donor countries to put political action behind their money.
“The report is saying that as long as you are investing in status quo, you are allowing Israel to cause permanent structural damage to the Palestinian economy,” said Bahour. “That’s a message to third states to get off their asses and do something,” he added.