The present report is submitted pursuant to General Assembly resolution 75/20, in which the Assembly requested the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development to report to it on the economic costs of the Israeli occupation for the Palestinian people. The report builds on, and complements, the findings of the previous report, issued in 2020 (A/75/310).
Following the outbreak of the second intifada in the occupied Palestinian territory, on 28 September 2000, Israel tightened its closure policy and implemented more stringent measures in the territory. The impact of those actions on the fragile regional economy of the West Bank was not only a contraction by one third of its size between 2000 and 2002. More importantly, they have had a long-lasting negative impact that has affected all economic sectors for 20 years.
Even with high dependence on employment in Israel and its settlements, the West Bank regional economy experienced two decades of jobless growth, fostering an average of 18 per cent unemployment between 1995 and 2019. Without employment in Israel and in the settlements, the unemployment rate could have been 16 percentage points higher, at par with the extremely high rate in Gaza. The cumulative economic cost of the stricter Israeli measures during the period 2000– 2019 is estimated at four and a half times the size of the West Bank regional economy in 2019.
The cost of occupation, in poverty terms, is also substantial, with the poorer segments of the population disproportionately affected. Had the tighter Israeli restrictions, imposed after the second intifada, not occurred, the 2004 poverty rate in the West Bank could have been 11.7 per cent, or only one third of the observed 35.4 per cent. The analysis conducted indicates that the real minimum cost of eliminating poverty in the West Bank jumped from $73 million (constant 2015 United States dollars) in 1998 (before the second intifada) to $356 million in 2004, and to $428 million in 2007.
The evolving and cumulative cost of occupation cannot be reversed without ending the occupation, in line with relevant United Nations resolutions. All mobility restrictions in the occupied Palestinian territory need to be lifted, and the contiguity of its constituent parts, including East Jerusalem, needs to be re-established. Palestinian public and private operators should be allowed to function in Area C, which represents at least 60 per cent of the West Bank. The United Nations maintains its position that a lasting and comprehensive peace can only be achieved through a negotiated two-State solution.