$1.8B needed for Palestine’s economic dev: UNCTAD
A Palestinian man walks amidst the destruction in the Shejaia neighbourhood, which heavily hit by Israeli air strikes - REUTERS/Suhaib Salem
By SAMAR SAMIR

CAIRO: Palestine needs $1.8 billion to develop its economy from 2014 to 2016, according to the annual report of United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD,) released Wednesday.

“The situation in reality is graver than what is mentioned in the report, as it was prepared before the latest Israeli offensive operation on Gaza strip,” said Mutasim Elagraa, the Economic Affairs officer in the Assistance to the Palestinian People Unit in UNCTAD in a press conference held in the U.N.’s Cairo office.

The end of the military occupation is a pressing need for the relief of the Palestinian economy, the report stated.

“The destruction caused by the latest military operations in Gaza will accelerate the continuous growth slowdown of the Palestinian development,” UNCTAD said in a press statement Wednesday.

Economic growth in the Palestinian territories declined by 9.5 percent over the last three years, increasing only 1.5 percent in 2013 compared with 11 percent in 2010-2012, the report said, adding that the growth rate in the West Bank reached 0.4 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP) while it hit 4.5 percent of GDP in Gaza in 2013.

Due to Israeli activities and restrictions on the Palestinian people and goods and the continuation of the financial crisis, the economy still suffers from the recession despite aid, the report said.

UNCTAD asked donors states to provide the Palestinian people the humanitarian aid and called for establishing investments, for lifting the Israeli blockade; building an airport and maritime port; connecting the West Bank to Gaza Strip and the Eastern Jerusalem .

A donor conference for Gaza reconstruction will be held in Cairo in October , co-hosted by Egypt and Norway, on the condition that both sides reach a permanent ceasefire agreement.

In the recent conflict, over 2,104 Palestinians were killed, including 1,462 civilians, while 69 Israelis were killed, including four civilians and one foreign national, according to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

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