UN trade body warns of PA economic collapse

The United Nations' trade and development agency warned Tuesday that the Palestinian economy was declining dramatically, leading to a worsening this year of already high unemployment and poverty levels in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. "The economy of the occupied Palestinian territory is on the verge of collapse," the U.N. Conference on Trade and Development said, adding that "projections indicate economic decline to levels not seen for a generation." The Geneva-based body, known by its acronym, UNCTAD, said per-capita income in the Palestinian territories would fall in 2006 to half of what it was before an outbreak of Israeli-Palestinian fighting late in 2000. Median income, it projected in its 19-page report, would also fall well below the absolute poverty line and more than half the Palestinian work force will be affected by unemployment by the end of the year.