PA official: Economic crisis will not be solved this year
BETHLEHEM - A Palestinian Authority official said Wednesday that a World Bank report describing weaknesses in the Palestinian economy was accurate.
In an interview with Ma'an, head of the Palestinian Economic Council for Development and Reconstruction Muhammad Ishtayeh said the Palestinian economy is under-performing, with unemployment and poverty levels increasing.
"Everything mentioned in the World Bank's report indicates that the economic crisis will not be solved this year because the economy is in crisis," Ishtayeh said.
"It's a build up of factors caused by the Israeli occupation, which controls all crossings and prevents investment in Area C. It’s also caused because the PA fully relies on international aid."
On Wednesday, a World Bank report said that the Palestinian economy is not strong enough to support a sovereign state and officials need to lower costs and increase efficiency, AFP reported.
"The Government of Israel's security restrictions continue to stymie investment and the recent growth has largely been driven by donor aid. This situation is unsustainable and aid levels have already begun to fall," the report said.
"Barring a political solution to the conflict, there is little that can be done about these constraints," it said.
If the situation does not change then the PA will have to rethink its future and objectives, Ishtayeh said, adding that it is in the Palestinian and international interest that the Palestinian Authority is not destroyed.
"The PA has received $18 billion since its establishment and no one wants it to collapse," Ishtayeh said.
Saudi Arabia agreed to donate $100 million to the Palestinian Authority after President Mahmoud Abbas met the country's king on Friday, amid a severe financial crisis within the West Bank government.
Of a hoped-for $1.1 billion in donor funds in 2011, the Western-backed Authority in Ramallah received just under $750 million.
Several factors coalesced last year to leave the Palestinians out of pocket: a global financial downturn, a freeze in Israeli-managed customs duty as West Bank officials sought unity with Hamas in Gaza, and an aid freeze by the United States following the Palestinian bid for statehood at the United Nations last year.