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Unholy War: How Israel’s 2014 offensive has left Gaza in shambles

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Blockades, war and poor governance have strangled Gaza’s economy and the unemployment rate is now the highest in the world according to the latest World Bank economic update. The report will be presented to the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee (AHLC), a forum of donors to the Palestinian Authority, at the bi-annual meeting in Brussels on May 27, 2015.

The 2014 war has reduced Gaza’s GDP by about US$460 million. Construction, agriculture, manufacturing, and electricity sectors were hit the most with output reductions of 83 per cent in the construction sector in the second half of 2014 and roughly 50 per cent in these other sectors. Gaza became a major source of deficit and the fiscal burden on the Palestinian Authority’s finances amplified by the internal divide. While about 43 per cent of PA’s expenditures are spent in Gaza, only 13 per cent of its revenues come from Gaza.

The report estimates that Gaza’s GDP would have been about four times higher than it currently is if it weren’t for the conflicts and the multiple restrictions. It also states that the blockade in place since 2007 has shaved around 50 percent off Gaza’s GDP.  Unemployment in Gaza is the highest in the world at 43 per cent. Even more alarming is the situation of youth unemployment which soared to more than 60 per cent by the end of 2014.

“Gaza’s unemployment and poverty figures are very troubling and the economic outlook is worrying. The current market in Gaza is not able to offer jobs leaving a large population in despair particularly the youth,” said Steen Lau Jorgensen, World Bank Country Director for West Bank and Gaza. “The ongoing blockade and the 2014 war have taken a toll on Gaza’s economy and people’s livelihoods. Gaza’s exports virtually disappeared and the manufacturing sector has shrunk by as much as 60 per cent. The economy cannot survive without being connected to the outside world.”

Gaza’s real GDP is only a couple of percentage points higher now than it was 20 years ago in 1994, while the population growth is estimated to have increased by about 230 per cent over the same period. Consequently, real per capita income in Gaza is 31 per cent lower now than in 1994.

Gaza’s population suffers from poor access and quality of basic public services such as electricity, water, and sewerage.  Nearly 80 per cent of Gaza’s population receives some kind of social assistance, and nearly 40 per cent of them still fall below the poverty line. While shocking, these numbers fail to fully convey the difficult living conditions that nearly all Gaza’s residents have been experiencing.

“Even more shocking is the reality that most of Gaza’s 1.8 million residents are confined to an area of 160 km square and are not able to travel beyond this area without permits. According to the Washington-based Center for Mind-Body-Medicine, as many as one-third of Gaza’s children showed signs of post-traumatic stress disorder even before the 2014 armed conflict, now even more,” said Jorgensen.

Source: World Bank

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Palestine envoy recalled after India’s strong protest

"This prompt action by the Palestinian government will go a long way in improving India-Palestine ties and further cooperation", and "the immediate dialogue and resolution of the crisis is truly appreciated by both the people of India and Palestine."

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Palestine moved towards peace with India. Wikimedia Commons
Palestine moved towards peace with India. Wikimedia Commons
  • Palestine recalled its envoy after strong protest from India, pointing out, it highly values its relationship with the country.
  • It also expressed deep regrets over the recent happenings.

Palestine on Saturday recalled its envoy to Pakistan for sharing the stage with 26/11 terror attacks mastermind Hafiz Saeed, with President Mahmoud Abbas directly intervening to order the recall after India strongly protested the envoy’s action as “unacceptable”.

“Palestine is keen to maintain good relations with friendly India and supports it for the efforts in its fight against terrorism,” the Palestine Foreign Office spokesperson said.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates of Palestine in a statement however clarified that the “participation of our envoy in a mass solidarity rally with Jerusalem, held in Rawalpindi on Friday, and in the presence of individuals accused of supporting terrorism is an unintended mistake, but not justified.

“Accordingly, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates under the direct instructions of the President of the State of Palestine to recall the Palestinian Ambassador to Pakistan immediately,” it said.

On Friday, Ali, stood with Hafiz Saeed at a rally called to condemn the US recognising Jerusalem, not Tel Aviv, as Israel’s capital. The rally was called by Difa-e-Pakistan Council, a coalition of more than 40 Islamist parties. Saeed is also a key leader of this coalition.

After photographs of the event went viral on the social media, India took up the issue strongly with the Palestinian authorities, who expressed “deep regret” over the incident.

Palestine expressed regret regarding the incidents which took place.eurasiareview
Palestine expressed regret regarding the incidents which took place. eurasiareview

“Government of India has strongly conveyed to the Palestinian side that the Palestinian Ambassador in Pakistan’s association with terrorist Hafiz Saeed, who is prescribed by the UN, is unacceptable,” the External Affairs Ministry said in a statement.

“The concerns were conveyed both in New Delhi to the Palestinian Ambassador and in Ramallah to the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates,” it said.

“The Palestinian side has conveyed deep regrets over the incident and assured the Government of India that they are taking serious cognizance of their Ambassador’s presence at this event. They have said they will deal with this matter appropriately.”

Palestinian Ambassador to India Adnan Abu Al Haij said: “We are supporting India in its fight against terrorism and because of that my government decided to directly call our ambassador to go back home, not to be Palestine ambassador to Pakistan anymore.”

The action of the Palestinian envoy in Pakistan came days after India voted with the rest of the world in favour of an Arab resolution in the UN General Assembly rejecting US President Donald Trump’s decision recognising Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

Palestine wants to maintain healthy relationship with India.
Palestine wants to maintain a healthy relationship with India.

According to the External Affairs Ministry statement, Palestine has also conveyed that it “highly values its relationship with India and stands with us in the war against terrorism, and will not engage with those who commit acts of terror against India”.

“We take note of the assurances given by the Palestine side,” the statement added.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates of Palestine also expressed appreciation for the “honorable position that India has taken by voting in favor of the resolution in the United Nation General Assembly last week”.

The India-Palestine Solidarity Front (IPSF) in New Delhi strongly condemned the Palestinian envoy’s dais sharing with Saeed and later appreciated the prompt action by President Mahmoud Abbas to recall Ali.

“We appreciate the prompt action by President Mahmoud Abbas, the Government of Palestine, to recall (Ali) for having attended a meeting convened by LeT Chief Hafeez Saeed, an internationally reviled and known hardcore terrorist,” said IPSF.

“This prompt action by the Palestinian government will go a long way in improving India-Palestine ties and further cooperation”, and “the immediate dialogue and resolution of the crisis is truly appreciated by both the people of India and Palestine”, it said.

The rich historical legacy bequeathed upon our nation by Mahatma Gandhi, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, Bhagat Singh and the stalwarts of our freedom struggle, the respect, and adulation for the great Yasser Arafat, lives on in our collective memory. IANS