United Nations economic adviser Michael Keating said there was an "ugly cycle" of Israeli security steps leading to more Palestinian attacks. "[The Israelis] are demoralizing people, and possibly they are resulting in radicalization of the population, which in turn may be resulting in more security incidents," he said.
February 19, 2003
World Bank: Palestinians need $1 billion in aid this year
LONDON - The World Bank said Wednesday that Palestinians would need $1.1 billion in aid this year to keep their devastated economy afloat and tackle a deep humanitarian crisis in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
Nigel Roberts, the bank's director of programs in the territories, said the figure would cover only the most urgent day-to-day needs after an economic collapse triggered by two years of conflict with Israel.
"Our estimates are that we would require something in the range of $1.1 billion to maintain a very basic level of equilibrium in the economy," said Roberts, speaking at the end of a meeting of international donors in London.
Around two-thirds of that target had already been committed by donors and the total was "achievable", he said.
The funds will be channeled towards emergency food aid, cash for the most poverty-stricken and job-creation schemes. Some money would also pay for public service salaries.
Roberts said donors had been encouraged by greater financial transparency in Yasser Arafat's Palestinian Authority, but were unwilling to support major projects which would be vulnerable to IDF strikes in Gaza or the West Bank.
"What you see is a reluctance to commit funds to infrastructure because of the risks associated with continued conflict," he said.
Average incomes in the Gaza Strip and West Bank had fallen by half since the start of the Intifada, donor nations said. Sixty percent of Palestinians were living on less than $2 a day.
"Although physical damage, estimated at over $700 million, has been a dominant feature of the crisis so far, donors noted that these losses were overshadowed by the loss of income as a result of the depressed economic environment," a statement released at the end of the two-day meeting said.
The statement welcomed Israel's moves to resume payment of tax revenue owed to the Palestinian Authority and to let more Palestinians work in Israel or in settlements.
But it urged Israel to ease restriction on movement of Palestinians and goods. Israel says the curfews are a necessary security response to suicide bombings by Palestinian militants.
United Nations economic adviser Michael Keating said there was an "ugly cycle" of Israeli security steps leading to more Palestinian attacks.
"[The Israelis] are demoralizing people, and possibly they are resulting in radicalization of the population, which in turn may be resulting in more security incidents," he said.
Possible military action in Iraq was also raising fears international aid efforts could soon be deflected away from the Palestinians' plight.
Keating said only a political settlement between Israel and the Palestinians could solve the problem.
"There is a profound humanitarian crisis, which is deepening, characterized by growing dependence on assistance, spread of waterborne diseases [and] 1.9 million people... receiving some form of food assistance," he said.
"It cannot be resolved by aid. Only a political solution can offer some hope of resolving the humanitarian crisis."