World Bank President Jim Yong Kim 370.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
A newly-released report issued by the World Bank’s office for the “occupied
Palestinian territories” charges that “Israel’s occupation costs the Palestinian
economy $3.4 billion each year.” That claim has certain logic. The more the PA
gets, the greater their wealth; one side’s gain is the other’s loss. Tel Aviv
would be better, but that also doesn’t belong to them.
The purpose of
this report seems to be to raise economic and financial claims against Israel
which imply deceit and theft, thereby shifting blame for the PA ’s problems to
To understand why the new report was issued, one must compare it
with a more comprehensive World Bank report issued in 2012 which described the
PA ’s economy as a failure, “unsustainable” – not so much because of Israeli
security restrictions, but due to inherent flaws and rampant corruption within
the PA itself.
The 2012 report, Towards Economic Sustainability of a
Future Palestinian State: Promoting Private Sector-Led Growth, analyzed the PA
economy critically, upsetting Palestinians and their supporters, and challenging
their portrayal as victims of Israeli policies.
The new report takes it a
step further: it’s not what PA residents produce or don’t produce, but how much
more they could produce if Israel would give them more land, resources and
Using biased hypotheses, questionable statistics
and faulty methodology the new report lacks critical analysis.
example, the report claims Israel is responsible for environmental pollution in
Area C, but fails to note that the PA refuses to join projects which would
resolve the problem and benefit everyone – since that would imply recognition of
Israel. World Bank reports do not evaluate or even estimate the PA ’s
substantial black market economy – which would drastically change the
The report ignores the main issue impacting Palestinian economy and
society: terrorism. Not a word about the cost of sabotage, arson and widespread
theft (especially livestock and cars) by Palestinians. The report assumes it’s
all Israel’s fault. The report charges that Israel does not provide Palestinians
with adequate amounts of water and electricity. An old charge, it has been
thoroughly refuted. Moreover, the report does not include thefts of water by
Palestinians, or their refusal to pay for utilities supplied by
The report notes that the PA ’s share of the market in quarried
stone, their largest export item, would expand if Palestinians were given access
to Area C. No mention is made of vast illegal quarrying in Areas A and B, or the
ecological damage that results.
The report faults Israel for high
unemployment rates among PA residents, but does not verify the accuracy of the
figures and ignores large numbers of Palestinians who work legally and
illegally. The report does not analyze the effect of large amounts of direct
foreign investment which support Palestinian projects in Area C and areas under
According to the report, Area C contains “around 180,000
Palestinian people.” This figure is based on unverified information from Bimkom,
a pro-Palestinian NGO, and the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics, which
lists the population of 149 villages in Area C as 47,360. Where are the rest?
Since nearly all sources used by World Bank reports are based on unreliable
Palestinian and anti-Israel organizations and NGOs, the conclusions are
predictable. For example, reports of poverty among Palestinians are inconsistent
with widespread luxury building, but never questioned.
According to the
report, “Area C includes almost all the land of the West Bank suitable for
No reliable sources are cited, it contradicts
high agricultural production figures for Areas A and B, and is refuted by
simple observation. Because of thefts and “the occupation,” the report asserts
that Palestinian communications and banking monopolies cannot provide services
and expand, but fails to indicate who is responsible for theft and violence. The
report suggests that if Israel gave up Area C, the situation would
OR NOT . The PA ’s real problems, according to the World Bank’s
2012 report, are internal: “It is unlikely that even with significant growth the
PA will be able to support an administration of the current size.
has become increasingly dependent upon donor assistance to fund its basic
operations. This not only leaves it vulnerable to reductions in aid, but also
means that the PA has few resources to devote to long-term development
“The PA ’s pension system is one of its largest obligations; it
is insolvent and effectively operating as a pay-as-you go system... the (entire)
system is in crisis.”
“The largest share of (PA ) government expenditures
goes to wages and salaries, which... is more than the total projection of budget
support and 21 percent of estimated GDP.”
Although intended to help the
PA , reports that distort the problems in order to advance a political agenda
cause more harm than good. But that’s a World Bank tradition. They backed
Israel’s evacuation of the Gaza Strip and Northern Samaria, wasting billions on
a fantasy which became a nightmare.
The World Bank has a reputation for
integrity and objective professional analysis which it’s new report calls into
The author is a PhD historian, writer and journalist.