Palestine (Pal Telegraph) – World Bank Group President Robert Zoellick said Wednesday that Israel must ease restrictions imposed on the Palestinian people in order to help boost the economy.
Zoellick’s words came after meeting Prime Minister Salam Fayyad in Ramallah.
“World Bank research shows that the economic growth in West Bank and Gaza from 2008-2011 was driven primarily by donor aid, and therefore will be difficult to sustain without greater private sector growth,” he said.
“To boost private sector investment and creation of jobs, Israel needs to take further decisive action to ease access and movement constraints, while at the same time the Palestinians will need to make real commitments to safeguard security. The two steps would be mutually supportive,” said the World Bank president.
The two officials discussed the Palestinian Authority’s financial situation and the impact of the Israeli restrictions on the Palestinian economy as well as what the World Bank can do to help.
“Today I met with Prime Minister Fayyad to learn how the World Bank Group can do more to help the Palestinian people overcome poverty and create opportunity,” said Zoellick.
“My discussions with the Prime Minister focused on how to help the Palestinian Authority reduce its dependence on outside aid and strengthen its capacities so as to provide more opportunity for its people,” he said.
“Prime Minister Fayyad has an impressive record of achievement. We agree that more needs to be done to create a more inclusive and sustainable society in the Palestinian Authority. Large numbers of young and educated people need hope and prospects of a better future. The World Bank Group offers the Prime Minister our full support, and we shall do everything we can to help him and his team achieve progress for the Palestinian people,” said Zoellick.
With commitments of $217 million, the World Bank is providing 17 investment grants supporting education, energy, municipal development, water, solid waste management, social protection, and non-governmental organizations. Another $139 million for nine projects is committed by IFC, the World Bank’s private sector arm, for job creation, to strengthen the financial sector, promote mobile phone use in Gaza, and solid waste management, he said.
Fayyad thanked Zoellick for his personal interest in Palestinian needs expressing hope the World Bank would double its efforts to help the Palestinian Authority overcome its financial crisis by pressing on the donors to meet their financial obligations toward the Palestinian Authority.
He said the Israeli measures stifle economic growth in the Palestinian Territory and that Israel should refrain from carrying out these measures and should lift the blockade off the Gaza Strip to allow Palestinian economy to grow.