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Hamdallah urges World Bank to increase assistance

July 15, 2013 6:19 P.M. (Updated: July 16, 2013 9:48 P.M.)
RAMALLAH (Ma'an) – Interim Palestinian Authority premier Rami Hamdallah on Monday urged the World Bank to increase its financial support to the PA.

In a meeting in his Ramallah office with World Bank country director Miriam Sherman, Hamdallah called for more assistance to help the PA deal with financial challenges and Israeli restrictions on the Palestinian economy, the official Wafa news reported.

He applauded the World Bank for its efforts to support development in Palestine.

After several years of what the World Bank called "robust growth," the Palestinian economy has slowed since 2012, hit by a fall in aid amid international fatigue at the moribund peace process.

The basis for Palestinian economic growth "is largely donor support, which in the long term is not sustainable. And it is really job creation that is needed," Sherman told AFP recently.

"We would like to see greater private sector investment," she said.

Earlier in July, the International Monetary Fund said that Palestinian growth was expected to slow to about 4.25 percent this year down from about 11 percent in 2010 and 2011.

Unemployment in the West Bank is set to reach 24 percent this year, while in Gaza joblessness stands at 31 percent -- with half of all women in the Gaza Strip out of work.

The IMF report sharply criticized "persistent Israeli controls and obstacles on internal movement, exports, and imports in the West Bank, as well as the virtual closure of Gaza."

Such restrictions "thwart the private sector," the report warned.

Prohibitions and bureaucratic red-tape have contributed to a fall in Palestinian exports, while the industrial and agricultural sectors have also weakened.

With no functioning airport, much of what the Palestinians produce has to be trucked out through the West Bank and sent to Jordan via the Allenby Bridge.

Marble from quarries, dates and herbs from farms, as well as some processed foods are among the most successful exports from small Palestinian businesses.

But such built-in inefficiencies add to the overall cost, while a strict Israeli ban on importing dual-use items such as fertilizer mean West Bank manufacturers can struggle to get materials.

AFP contributed to this report.
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