UN bemoans unsustainable Palestinian economy

A Palestinian protestor covers his nose with a piece of cloth on the beach near the maritime border with Israel (background), in the northern Gaza Strip, during a demonstration calling for the lift of the Israeli blockade on the coastal Palestinian enclave, on September 10, 2018. (AFP)
Updated 12 September 2018
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UN bemoans unsustainable Palestinian economy

  • It said unemployment in the Palestinian territories was the highest in the world in 2017, at 27.4 percent
  • Half of Palestinians under 30 were unemployed. The economy grew 3.1 percent but was flat on a per capita basis

GENEVA: Palestinian citizens are trapped in an economy of jobless growth with no prospects, especially in Gaza, which is undergoing “de-development,” the United Nations trade and development agency UNCTAD said in an annual report published on Wednesday.
It said unemployment in the Palestinian territories was the highest in the world in 2017, at 27.4 percent, while agricultural production fell by 11 percent. Half of Palestinians under 30 were unemployed. The economy grew 3.1 percent but was flat on a per capita basis.
“Every year the situation becomes more and more unacceptable and difficult,” UNCTAD Deputy Secretary-General Isabelle Durant told a news conference in Geneva, describing the economic situation as “absolutely unsustainable.”
A customs union between Israel and the Palestinian territories has isolated the Palestinian economy from the rest of the world and left it dependent on Israel, the report said.
“The major reason for this dark situation from the economic development point of view is a set of Israeli restrictions,” Mahmoud Elkhafif, coordinator of the report, said.
“These measures include permit systems for Palestinians to work in Israel, you have road blocks in the West Bank, you have earth mounds, trenches, road check points, gates and separation barriers.”
In Gaza, where real incomes have fallen 30 percent since 1999 and production capacity has been hit by successive military operations, households got an average of two hours of electricity daily, and only about 10 percent had drinking water.
“It is de-development, it is not development,” Elkhafif said.
Hamas, an Islamist movement designated a terrorist group by Western countries and Israel, seized control of the territory in 2007 following a brief civil war with forces loyal to Mahmoud Abbas, the Western-backed Palestinian president based in the West Bank.
Israel withdrew its troops and settlers from Gaza in 2005, but, citing security concerns, maintains tight control of its land and sea borders. Egypt also restricts movement in and out of Gaza on its border.
Abbas’s Palestinian Authority has also sought to use financial measures to isolate Hamas, last year slashing the salaries of thousands of government workers in Gaza by 30 percent.
Total international support dropped significantly, from $2 billion in 2008 to $720 million in 2017.
A further blow came this month when US President Donald Trump halted funding for the UN Palestinian refugee agency UNRWA, leaving a $200 million gap.
Durant said it was too early to assess the impact of the US move, and she hoped European or other donors might at least partially make up the shortfall.


‘Qatar a hospitable base for Muslim Brotherhood,’ says Washington think-tank

Updated 49 min 48 sec ago
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‘Qatar a hospitable base for Muslim Brotherhood,’ says Washington think-tank

  • Qatar’s state-owned news channel Al-Jazeera called out for pushing extremist Islamist ideology, with the Brotherhood playing a “crucial role in programming and setting the editorial line”
  • Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and non-GCC member Egypt imposed a diplomatic and economic boycott on Qatar in June 2017 over claims that Doha supports terrorism

DUBAI: Qatar is a hospitable base for the Muslim Brotherhood and many of the world’s most virulent Islamists, a senior member of prominent Washington-based think tank Security Studies Group said in an opinion article published in the Washington Times.

“Qatar has been the Brotherhood’s most hospitable base of operations…Brotherhood Islamism would soon emerge as Qatar’s de-facto state ideology, as the ruling al-Thani family welcomed the Islamists with lavish funding, the highest state honors, and the establishment of new Islamist institutions that would seek to indoctrinate thousands,” the senior vice president for strategic operations, David Reaboi, wrote.

Reaboi also called out Qatar’s state-owned news channel Al-Jazeera for pushing extremist Islamist ideology, with the Brotherhood playing a “crucial role in programming and setting the editorial line.”

“Even as it claims to be a legitimate, journalistic enterprise, Al-Jazeera is an instrument of power projection for the Qatari regime. Its mission has always been to support Qatar and the Brotherhood while attacking its enemies in the United States, Israel, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates,” he said.

“In Arabic, Al Jazeera pushes a stream of vile, anti-Semitic conspiracy theories, and attempts to rile up religious and extremist Muslims against attempts at positive, human rights reforms in Egypt, Saudi Arabia and other Arab states,” he added.

Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and non-GCC member Egypt imposed a diplomatic and economic boycott on Qatar in June 2017 over claims that Doha supports terrorism.