Despite the Palestinian Stock Exchange surpassing all others in the Arab world last year, the dawn of 2016 in the West Bank brought somber news: the death toll of Palestinians killed by Israeli forces in East Jerusalem and the West Bank since October had risen to 142. Another 15,000 had been injured, many of them seriously.
Many Israelis, too, now live in constant fear, even though their own dead and injured are a fraction of those killed “on the other side.” No end is in sight, not least because Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s fragile coalition government is dependent on the most extreme Israeli settler movements, who regard occupied East Jerusalem and the West Bank as their own.
Measures by the World Bank and the Quartet–the body which represents the US, the EU, Russia and the UN–to focus on the development of the private sector in the West Bank, and the need to alleviate the very high levels of unemployment, give a ray of hope, as does the EU’s ruling last year on the labelling of produce from the Palestinian territories. But recent efforts by Tel Aviv to bolster the Palestinian economy with long overdue measures, such as giving 3G spectrum licenses to Palestinian telecoms firms at a time when 4G is standard, only confirm the pessimism of many in Ramallah, Jericho, Hebron, Bethlehem and Nablus, never mind Gaza City and Khan Younis, as well as East Jerusalem. They increasingly doubt that the international community is willing to take the tough moves needed to change the rapidly deteriorating situation on the ground.
Now, more than ever, the impressive and growing solidarity of Palestine’s grass roots supporters around the world, combined with the faith and confidence of its investors and benefactors, especially in the diaspora, is needed.
We’ll be keeping tabs on all this, and, after a hiatus in 2015, we’ll again be giving you the news and insights you need on Palestine’s economy, including its vital political dimension. Stay tuned…. and,
A Very Happy 2016,
from all of us here at InvestPalestine.
© Pamela Ann Smith
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