For many Palestinians economic life is simply about getting by from one day to the next. The main objective of the Paris donors’ conference is to give them a long-term view, to lay the foundations of a stable economy for a future state.
Financial hardship in the Palestinian territories is nothing new. What is worrying those in the international community leading the peace process is that the economic crisis is undermining the prospects for a political structure.
The proposed state will exist in two geographic entities, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. But today there is a political chasm between them, further complicating plans for a future economy
Isolated Gaza is very much the weaker part. In the past year unemployment has surged here while improving in the West Bank. And poverty levels have soared in one but remained stable in the other. Israel’s security clampdown means only people from the West Bank can work in Israel.
The donor nations and organizations have promised up to 40 percent of the total aid package will be channeled to Gaza. International support groups working there say its urgently needed.
Food prices have risen by up to 40 percent in the past year. Now some 80 percent of the population is dependent on aid. The productivity of those private businesses that remain functioning has plummeted to 11 percent. And Gaza’s now relies heavily on Israel for electricity.
But with Israel unwilling to deal with Gaza’s hardline Hamas leadership, ordinary Gazans are paying an increasingly heavy price. The Paris conference may be charting the economic future but it is now that solutions are needed. And foreign investment seems highly unlikely while the coastal territory remains so unstable.