The cost of Israeli occupation? $2.5 billion a year for Palestinians

The cost of Israeli occupation? $2.5 billion a year for Palestinians
The 'direct fiscal impact' of the Israeli occupation has cost the Palestinian territories $2.5 billion a year, with the real figure for all losses estimated to be much higher.
2 min read
02 December, 2019
Palestinian men walk past a building occupied by Israeli settlers near Hebron [AFP/Getty]

Israel's occupation of the Palestinian territories has cost the economy of the Palestinians more than $2.5 billion a year for the past two decades, a UN report said Monday.

The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development report estimated the total fiscal loss to the Palestinian government between 2000 and 2017 at $47.7 billion.

The figure included $28 billion in accrued interest and $6.6 billion in leakage from Palestinian fiscal revenues.

It said the amount would have been enough to eliminate the Palestinian government's $17.7 billion budget deficit over the same period more than twice over.

The report argued if the $47 billion had been invested sensibly in the impoverished Palestinian economy, it would have created an extra two million jobs over the 18-year period, or 110,000 a year.

The report was presented at the Palestine Economic Policy Research Institute (MAS) in the West Bank city of Ramallah, home to the Palestinian government.

Misyef Jameel, senior researcher at MAS who worked on the report, said they only measured the direct fiscal impact. 

The real figure for all losses was likely much higher, he said.

The news comes a day after Israel's new hard-right defence minister ordered officials to start planning a new Israeli settlement in the heart of the divided West Bank city of Hebron.

The market area is on Hebron's Shuhada Street. Once a bustling thoroughfare leading to a holy site where the biblical Abraham is believed to have been buried, the area is now known as a "ghost town" and off limits to Palestinians, with the exception of those who live in close proximity to Israeli settlers.

Read more: How Israel turned the occupation into a moneymaking enterprise

Ahead of the September elections, Netanyahu also pledged to annex the existing "Jewish neighbourhoods" of Hebron and the neighbouring Kiryat Arba settlement. 

Israeli settlements are considered illegal under international law and are bitterly opposed by Palestinians.

Despite that, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced last month that the US no longer considers the settlements illegal, a move that has been widely criticised for emboldening their expansion.

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