Socio-economic impact of Palestine-Israel war on occupied Palestinian territories 

By Lovemore Chazingwa

The protracted conflict in middle east pitting Israel versus Palestine has brought untold suffering to the people in territories of West Bank, Jerusalem and Gaza Strip among a host of others.

The impact on the lives and economic performance, Palestine in particular, and the region in general leaves a call for deep seated introspection.

Economic performance has dwarfed to an all time low. Displacements of people, destruction of property and infrastructure the order of the day.

Homelessness coupled by desperation compound an already septic scenario. The general complexion is untoward, inhuman and unpalatable.

It has become incumbent upon authorities to retool the whole humanitarian ecosystem for a better, attractive and progressive environment in the whole middle east region.

The current status quo has resulted in the escalation of refugee statistics, desolate infrastructure as well as an economy in doldrums, to scrub the baseline among the populace.

The State of Palestine is a de-jure sovereign state in the middle east comprising West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza Strip.

It has its designated capital in East Jerusalem and administrative centre in the city of Ramallah.

Recognized by more than 130 countries worldwide, there is more to its existence and pivotal role in world affairs than its continued suppression.

It has earned the official endorsement of the UN on a Non-Member Observer Status granted on November 29, 2012. While it is located on the southern region of west Asia it falls under the administrative

governance of Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO).

It is a state of just over 5 million occupants, as of 2023 availed figures.

In December 2016, the UN Security Council UNSC, voted 14-0 a resolution to condemn the settlements of Israel in the West Bank. The US, which normally vetoes decisions critical of Israel, abstained and allowed the resolution to pass. The UN Security Council (UNSC) called upon states to recognize, in their dealings, the territories of the State of Israel and the territories occupied since1967.

Despite the resolution, former US president Donald Trump unilaterally recognized Jerusalem as the capital of the State of Israel, setting off an avalanche of international criticism and protests.

Present day Palestine has a per capita of US$33.3.

Palestine Monetary Authority chief, or Reserve Bank Governor,

Feras Melham reveals that foreign reserves for the state stand at US$ 0.7 billion. Palestine also generates gross domestic product

(GDP) in the tune of US$17.34bln and purchasing power parity at US$29.5 on the same bench, according to the monetary authorities in the Palestinian state.

The illegal occupation continues to displace and dispossess people from economically gainful activities, homes and confiscate land and resources, obstructing independence and development, for over 55 years of socio-economic, humanitarian and human devastation.

The Palestinian economy was stagnant and the socio-economic situation already difficult prior to the breakout of Covid-19. This is attributed to restrictions by Israel (on trade, movement and access), recurrent hostilities, internal divide, and falling aid inflows. During 2017-19, annual GDP growth averaged 1.3 percentage points, lower than the population growth rate resulting in decreasing per capita incomes and increasing poverty. Growth decomposition shows that this was driven by accumulation of factors and not improvements in productivity. In recent years, gross investment has averaged about 26 percent of GDP, but the bulk of this has been channeled into activities in the non-tradable sectors, rather than sectors that could have served as escalators for growth. Likewise, foreign direct investment (FDI), at a mere one percent of GDP, is very low.

Estimates based on GDP per capita growth suggest that in 2020 the poverty rate spiked to 29.7 percent, an increase of nearly eight percentage points from 2016 (latest available official data). As the impact of the pandemic receded, the poverty rate is estimated to have declined to 27.3 percent in 2021. Current poverty rates represent a poor population of approximately 1.5 million people.

*Economic Outlook*

Under a baseline scenario that assumes a continuation of the Israeli restrictions, persistence of the internal divide between the West Bank and Gaza and stagnating aid levels, growth is expected to hover around 3.1 to 3.7 percent over the forecast period. The poverty rate is projected to decline to 26.7, and then to further gradually decrease to 26.1 percent by 2024.

On the fiscal front, revenue was projected to grow in 2022, reflecting increased tax rates on sugary drinks and single-use plastics, higher collections on tobacco excise and higher value added tax (VAT) revenue due to implementing an e-VAT system with Israel. Yet, these efforts would be offset by Israeli unilateral deductions from revenues it collects on behalf of the Palestinian Authority (PA), projected at 1.6 percent of GDP in 2022. Expenditure is expected to decline with partial payments of salaries until May 2022. With grants, the fiscal deficit (on a cash basis) was expected to fall to 4.5 percent of GDP in 2022.

The economic consequences of the war in Ukraine and associated sanctions may also affect the outlook through mounting inflationary pressure. The pandemic may have also caused risks to the outlook, especially if no additional vaccines were secured beyond mid-2022. Further, if recent clashes between Palestinians and the Israeli forces in the West Bank and in Gaza escalate, there is little room left to absorb such shocks.

A General Assembly

Seventy-Seventh session

item 58 of the preliminary list sounds: “Permanent sovereignty of the Palestinian people in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT) including East Jerusalem, and of the Arab population in the occupied Syrian Golan over their natural resources”

Economic and Social Council

Substantive session of 2022

Agenda item 16 tables,

“Economic and social repercussions of the Israeli occupation on the living conditions of the Palestinian people in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and the Arab population in the occupied Syrian Golan.”

In its resolution 2021/4, entitled “Economic and social repercussions of the Israeli occupation on the living conditions of the Palestinian people in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and the Arab population in the occupied Syrian Golan”, the Economic and Social Council requested the Secretary – General to submit to the General Assembly at its Seventy-Fifth session, through the Economic and Social Council, a report on the implementation of that resolu tion. In addition, through its resolution 2021/5 entitled “Situation of and assistance to Palestinian women”, the Council requested the Secretary-General to include information on the gender-specific impact of the occupation and the progress made in the implementation of that resolution in that report. The Assembly, in its resolution 76/225 entitled “Permanent sovereignty of the Palestinian people in the OPT, including East Jerusalem, and of the Arab population in the occupied Syrian Golan over their natural resources”, also requested the SG to submit a report to it, through the Council, at its Seventy-Sixth and Seventy-Seventh sessions. The present report, which was prepared by the Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA), has been submitted in compliance with these resolutions.

The report covers persistent Israeli practices and policies, particularly those that are in violation of international humanitarian law and international human rights law and that affect the social and economic conditions of the people living under its military occupation, including the gendered impact of the occupation. Special Co-ordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, Tor Wennesland, reporting near-daily violence, told the Council that another fatal shooting killed an Israeli in the West Bank just hours before his briefing. “This violence is fuelled and exacerbated by a growing sense of despair about the future,” he observed, stating that the lack of progress towards a political horizon has left a dangerous, volatile vacuum filled by extremists on both sides.”

It has been observed that the people of Israel are somewhat content on the obtaining socio-political climate as they are protected to the extent that they may not even know the atrocities burdening Palestinians while the latter continues to struggle for their self rule and emancipation from the shackles that the Israeli State is piling on them on a daily basis with no end in reasonable sight.

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