‘The Palestine economy is booming’ – myths and facts

“What’s the problem?  The Palestinian economy is booming.”

  • Palestinian income per head fell by 34% between 2000 and 2008[1]
  • Palestinians are still poorer than they were in 1999[2]
  • The FCO says this is “largely a result of Israeli closure policies”[3]
  • Growth in last three years has been “heavily dependent on donor aid” [4]
  • Unemployment never fallen below 20%[5], poverty never below 25%[6]

[2] ILO see above

[3] PCBS see above

[4] FCO see above

[5] ILO see above

[6] CIA World Factbook/ Middle East/ West Bank updated on June 6, 2012 https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/we.html


    •  Netanyahu boasted to the US Congress that the Palestinian economy is “booming”. Well, not thanks to him! It’s recovering from the impoverishment caused by the blockade in Gaza and by 540 Israeli roadblocks in the West Bank[1]. Palestinian GDP per head is still not back to 1999 levels.[2]
    • After falling by 34% between 2000 and 2008, the Palestinian GDP per head has grown for three years – in 2011 by 6.6%, but real wages still fell that year with 21% out of work and 25.6% officially poor. [3]
    • According to the FCO “the almost decade-long downturn has been largely a result of Israeli closure policies which have disrupted labour flows, manufacturing and trade”.[4] A slight easing of movement restrictions helped the economy grow in early 2011, but then it slowed down again. [5]
    • In any case economic growth in the West Bank “has been sustained by inflows of donor aid”, according to the CIA’s economic report.  “Israeli closure policies continue to disrupt labour and trade flows, industrial capacity and basic commerce.” [6]
    • 540 checkpoints and roadblocks impose massive delays and diversions on the West Bank economy while Israeli permit laws make it impossible for most Palestinians to travel to Jerusalem, Israel or other countries. [1]
    • Israeli GDP per head is now 20 times higher than Palestinian and the Palestinian has been held back for a decade while Israeli GDP per head has increased by 22%.[2]

[1] Report on UNCTAD assistance to the Palestinian people July 2010

[2] International Labour Conference 2011 Report on the situation of workers of the occupied Arab territories gives the real per capita GDP as $1,614, approximately 2 % lower than its 1999 level. See http://www.ilo.org/wcmsp5/groups/public/—ed_norm/—relconf/documents/meetingdocument/wcms_155419.pdf

[3] Foreign & Commonwealth Office Country Profile of the Occupied PalestinianTerritories

[4] ILO see above

[5] ILO see above

[6] Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics, Performance of the Palestinian Economy 2011, 15-05-2012 http://www.pcbs.gov.ps/Portals/_pcbs/PressRelease/perfEco2011E.pdf

Contact Details

This briefing has been produced by Martin Linton, Sally Fitzharris and Taris Ahmad. For further questions please contact:

Martin Linton, martin@martinlinton.org

Sally Fitzharris, sally@sallyfitzharris.co.uk

Taris Ahmad, international.law.taris@gmail.com

Further information

Map of West Bank settlement


Trajectory of the Wall



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