Palestine’s Agriculture and Agro-Industries: The Basis for a Resurgent Economy?

A series of recent studies from the UN, the World Bank, the UK, France and the European Union, as well as other international organisations, has highlighted the huge potential of agriculture and fishing in the West Bank and Gaza and the extremely important contribution a revived sector could provide to both Palestine’s GDP and the urgent need to create new jobs, especially for the young and in the rural areas.

Palestine’s Jordan Valley is one of the world’s richest, and most diverse, agricultural areas. Picture: JICA

At present, all the reports emphasize that the escalation of Israeli settlements, particularly in the fertile Jordan Valley; Israeli military control of ‘Area C;’ and the rapidly dwindling amount of water available to Palestinian farmers has led to a sharp decline in both cultivation and output. Fishing and fish processing in Gaza is also stagnating, they add, due to the harsh Israeli restrictions, both onshore and offshore. Continue reading


Editor’s Note: Here’s What’s Happening has been busy this month, promoting a ‘Special Report’ on The Palestinian Economy: Bright Prospects for the Private Sector, which is due to appear in the London-based, pan-Arab monthly, The Middle East, on the 1st of October.

It includes an exclusive interview with the CEO of the Bank of Palestine, Hashim Shawa, which we’ll bring to you then… plus other stories on PalTel, the HUGE start-up potential of Palestinian information technology firms (and the ExpoTech exhibition in Ramallah and Gaza) … plus information about the new investment funds springing up in Palestine … as well as new ventures from the UK to promote Palestinian exports and scholarships and training for young Palestinians.

A fruit and vegetable market in Ramallah. In the end, it’s all about feeding the family…ideally, with LOCAL produce. Mohamad Torokman/Reuters

Meanwhile, look out for our Special Feature on Palestine’s Agriculture: Its Untapped Potential, later this week which takes a look at the tens of thousands of jobs that this sector could create in the future, as well as its enormous potential to promote Palestine’s exports to world markets.

Thanks for reading,


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Palestine’s Paralympics II

Here’s some pictures from the reception held yesterday evening in Parliament Square, Westminster, London, for the Paralympian team, their coaches, officials and supporters. (See Britain Opens its Doors...3 September, below.)

Fannouna, Zakout, the Palestinian Ambassador, and the Palestinian Paralympic Chairman, along with Labour MP Jeremy Corbyn, listening to a tribute from the Liberal Democrat’s Deputy Leader, Simon Hughes.

It was sponsored by Labour MP Jeremy Corbyn and the Palestinian Ambassador, Manuel Hassassian, and addressed by Murad Qureshi, a member of the London Assembly (see Palestine’s Olympic Triumph II, 30 July, below), who described the tribulations of trying to enter Gaza on his first-ever trip to Palestine, as well as the hassles he encountered at the airport in Cairo! Continue reading

Britain Opens its Doors…and Hearts…to Palestine’s Paralympians

Half-way through the Paralympic 2012 Games in London, Palestine’s two participants, 47-year-old Khamis Zaqout and 32-year-old Muhammed Fannouna, are being feted and celebrated by the great and the good, as well as the huge, enthusiastic audiences who are turning out to watch them compete in the shotput, discus, javelin, long-jump, 100- and 200-metre athletics events. While Zaqout fell just 4 centimeters (!!!) short of taking a bronze medal in the shotput last Friday, team officials remain confident that there will be a Palestinian on the podium by the end of the Games on 9 September.

The athletes, their coaches, and the Chairman of the Palestinian Paralympic
Committee, Akram Okkeh, toured the British Parliament on Thursday, 30 August.
Photo: UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

Tonight, a special, high-level reception is being held for the team at London’s Portcullis House in Westminster, across from the Houses of Parliament and “Big Ben.” Politicians, diplomats, officials, journalists, activists, supporters and members of the public have been invited by MP Jeremy Corbyn and the Palestinian Ambassador, Professor Manuel Hassassian, to cheer them on, and to help put Palestine “on the map” at a time when the world’s eyes are once again on London. (Corbyn hosted another reception in July at the London Assembly for the Palestinian Olympic team. See “Palestine’s Olympic Triumph II”, 30 July, below.) Continue reading