(MENAFN – Jordan Times) OCCUPIED JERUSALEM — The World Bank warned on Tuesday that the Gaza Strip’s economy is in ‘free fall’ as cuts to aid and salaries add to an already crippling Israeli blockade on the Hamas-run enclave.
The bank’s report will be presented to the international donor group for Palestinians, known as the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee, at its meeting in New York on Thursday on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly.
The meeting will coincide with the speeches to the assembly of both Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Already squeezed by the more than decade-long Israeli blockade, Gaza’s economy has been further weakened by US aid cuts and financial measures by Abbas’s Palestinian Authority.
Abbas has been seeking to pressure Hamas, which expelled his loyalists from the territory in 2007, as well as save costs.
According to the World Bank, he has reduced monthly payments to Gaza by some $30 million.
US President Donald Trump’s administration has, meanwhile, cut more than $500 million in aid to the Palestinians, including ending all support for the UN agency for Palestinian refugees.
‘The economic deterioration in both Gaza and West Bank can no longer be counteracted by foreign aid, which has been in steady decline, nor by the private sector, which remains confined by restrictions on movement, access to primary materials and trade,’ the bank said.Gaza’s economy shrunk by 6 per cent in the first quarter of 2018 ‘with indications of further deterioration since then’, it said.The bank said one in two Gazans now lives below the poverty line and that unemployment is running at 53 per cent.More than 70 per cent of young people are jobless, it said.’Increased frustration is feeding into the increased tensions which have already started spilling over into unrest and setting back the human development […]