Study finds Israeli occuption costs Palestinians $6.9 billion a year in lost commerce

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The Guardian reports on a new study showing that the Israeli occupation has deprived the Palestinian economy of $6.9 billion, which would amount to 85% of the current Palestinian gross domestic product. This is the result of daily occupation practices, such as lack of freedom of movement, restrictions over water usage and other natural resources as well as import and export limits.

In addition, the report outlines the ways the Israeli economy benefits from the “occupation enterprise.” One case study:

Pal Karm Company for Cosmetics, located in Nablus, sells cosmetics and skin care products in the local market and exports to Israel. Glycerin is an essential raw material for the company. Israel has banned the entry of glycerin into the Palestinian Territory since mid-2007. Ever since then, the company has been unable to sell skin care products in the Israeli market because the Israeli health authorities require glycerin to be part of such products. The company estimates its losses at 30% of its sales in the Israeli market for this product.

From the report’s (PDF) introduction:

The Israeli military occupation of the Palestinian territory imposes a huge price tag on the Palestinian economy. Israeli restrictions prevent Palestinians from accessing much of their land and from exploiting most of their natural resources; they isolate the Palestinians from global markets, and fragment their territory into small, badly connected, “cantons”. As recently highlighted also by international economic organisations, including the World Bank, UNCTAD and the IMF, these restrictions are the main impediment to any prospects of a sustainable Palestinian economy.

Acknowledging this, and in spite of data scarcity and challenges in carrying out such an immense task the Palestinian Ministry of National Economy teamed up with the Applied Research InstituteJerusalem (ARIJ), an independent think-tank, to provide the first systematic quantification of the annual costs imposed by the occupation on the Palestinian economy. The main results of such analysis are presented in this bulletin, which aims to be a regular publication monitoring and quantifying the costs of Israeli restrictions on the Palestinian economy.

Many of these restrictions have been in place since the start of the occupation in 1967, reflecting an unchanged colonial attitude of Israel, which aims to exploit Palestinian natural resources (including land, water and mining resources) for its own economic benefits. This “exploitative” policy has been coupled by the desire of Israel to prevent any Palestinian competition with Israeli economic interests. This attitude is summed up by Yitzhak Rabin, while holding the post of Israel’s defense minister in 1986: “there will be no development initiated by the Israeli Government, and no permits will be given for expanding agriculture or industry, which may compete with the State of Israel” (UNCTAD 1986). This has been (and still is) reflected in a series of Israeli obstacles related to customs, transportation and infrastructure which have prevented the development of a competitive Palestinian tradable sector and of Palestinian trade with non-Israeli partners.

Today these restrictions have deepened further and according to our estimations in 2010 they are almost equal to the value of the entire Palestinian economy. The total costs imposed by the Israeli occupation on the Palestinian economy which we have been able to measure was USD 6.897 billion in 2010, a staggering 84.9% of the total estimated Palestinian GDP. In other words, had the Palestinians not been subject to the Israeli occupation, their economy would have been almost double in size than it is today.

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