West Bank, 2007-2011
In 2007, the economy in the West Bank improved gradually. Economic growth for the occupied areas reached about 4-5% and unemployment dropped about 3%. Israeli figures indicated that wages in the West Bank rose more than 20% in 2008 and trade rose about 35%. Tourism in Bethlehem increased to about twice its previous levels, and tourism increased by 50% in Jericho. Life expectancy is 73.4, placing the territories 77th in the world, compared with a life expectancy of 72.5 in Jordan, and 71.8 in Turkey.
The International Monetary Fund report for the West Bank forecast a 7 percent growth rate for 2009. Car sales in 2008 were double those of 2007. The first planned Palestinian city named Rawabi will be built north of Ramallah, with the help of funds from Qatar. The Israeli military removed its checkpoint at the entrance of Jenin in a series of reductions in security measures.
International businesses based in the West Bank are expected to benefit from a state of the art web-based system for tracking goods coming in and out of the area, launched in August 2009 by Palestinian customs in partnership with the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development.
The Bethlehem Small Enterprise Center opened in early 2008. Funded by Germany, the center has helped to promote computer literacy and marketing skills.
Olives of Peace is a joint Israeli-Palestinian business venture to sell olive oil. Through this project, Israelis and Palestinians have carried out joint training sessions and planning. The oil is sold under the brand name "Olives of Peace."
In 2009, efforts continued to build Palestinian local institutions and governments from the ground up. Much of this work was done by Tony Blair and U.S. General Keith Dayton. Some analysts saw this as a more substantial way to lay a groundwork for viable institutions and for local peace.
Joint economic cooperation between Israeli officials in Gilboa and Palestinian officials in Jenin has begun to have major results and benefits. In October 2009, a new project got underway promoting tourism and travel between the two areas. New business efforts and tourist attractions have been initiated in Jenin. The two regions are planning a joint industrial zone which would bridge the border. Palestinians would produce locally-made handicrafts and sell them through Gilboa to other regions of the world. Another possible project is a joint language center, where Israelis and Palestinians would teach each other Arabic and Hebrew, as well as aspects of their cultural heritage.
In 2009, an economic "boom" began with growth reaching 8 percent, higher than in Israel or the West. However, with inflation around 9.9% that same year, real economic growth is actually negative insofar as purchasing power has decreased. Tourism to Bethlehem, which had doubled to 1 million in 2008, rose to nearly 1.5 million in 2009. New car imports increased by 44 percent. New shopping malls opened in Jenin and Nablus. As an outcome of the Palestine Investment Conference, Palestinian developers are planning to build the first modern Palestinian city, Rawabi.
In 2010, Ramallah was described as a hub of the economic activity thanks to the improved security situation, successful battle against corruption and large consumer base.
In 2011, the Palestinian Planning Minister said that GDP growth was expected to reach 9 percent, rising to 10 percent in 2012 and 12 percent in 2013.
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