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Friday, December 05, 2008

So why is the West Bank economy booming?

The media has been spending a great deal of time in anguish over the situation of Palestinian Arabs in Gaza.

There are a few million other PalArabs, however, in the West Bank. And while life in Gaza gets worse, things in the West Bank are getting markedly better:
Unprecedented military coordination and a sincere effort by the Palestinian Authority to crack down on Hamas has led to a unique economic surge in the West Bank in the past year, according to an internal Defense Ministry report obtained on Monday by The Jerusalem Post.

Prepared by the IDF's Civil Administration, the report cites a three percent drop to 16% in Palestinian unemployment since the beginning of the year. In addition, the report cites a 24% increase in Palestinian average daily wages, up from NIS 70 in 2007 to NIS 86.9.

The stats were collected in recent months from a variety of sources, including the PA and the United Nations International Labor Organization. Since the beginning of the year, the IDF has also removed 113 roadblocks and dirt mounds throughout the West Bank, enabling easier travel between Palestinian cities.

Officers in the Civil Administration said the economic surge was the result of a number of parallel factors but was mainly due to improved coordination between Israel and the PA, as well as a decision by PA President Mahmoud Abbas to make a concerted effort to stop Hamas' build-up in the West Bank.

There was also a 10% increase in the number of workers employed in settlements - up from 23,000 in 2007 to 26,000 in 2008, as well as a 10% increase in the permits issued for Palestinians working in Israel - 23,000 compared to 21,000 in 2007. [The percent increase for workers in the settlements is actually 13% - EoZ]
Does this mean that Palestinian Arabs who fight against terror benefit, and those who support terror lose out?

Another report:
In Ramallah, site of the Palestinian National Authority, business booms and street life is vibrant. Housing construction, which enjoyed a big boom in the 90s when peace seemed imminent, only to collapse with the advent of the 2000 intifada, appears back in business. Cafe life, especially in the more Christian districts, has regained some of the European-style the city was famous for prior to the 1987 intifada. Several boutique hotels do a fine trade and a mighty Movenpick hotel (after several false starts) is due to open in the new year.

...Many shops in Ramallah are superior to anything found in Arab east Jerusalem, so a large number of Jerusalemites are actually going to Ramallah to shop.

In another Palestinian city, Hebron, living conditions also are surprisingly healthy, at least for the 80 per cent of Palestinians fortunate enough to live in area H1. Shops flourish, people are working, and the roads are remarkably efficient. There even are traffic lights, carefully obeyed, in neighbourhoods where chaos reigned supreme just a few years ago.

Hebron also was famous for the grilled chicken restaurants that line the main street, and some of the best have now moved to luxurious new premises.
More statistics:
35% Increase in trade between Israel and the PA

87% Increase in tourism to Bethlehem

953% increase of importing vehicles to the PA

A sharp increase in export of agricultural produce from the West Bank to the Israeli market. 92,000 tons, compared to 30,000 in 2007. (much of it due to Shmitah)

Signing of the allocation agreement between Israel and the PA for a second cellular company ("Watania").
For those who are not congenitally anti-Israel, it is obvious that Israel doesn't want to make Palestinian Arab lives miserable. Israelis want to find a win-win solution where everyone benefits. The PA, for all its faults, has been acting more responsibly lately - more in its own self-interest than in Israel's - and the results are clear. Hamas acts much worse, and it gets treated worse - not only by Israel but by Egypt as well.

The West Bank gains are proof that all of the Israel-bashers who keep trotting out their calumnies about Zionist ethnic cleansing are simply liars. Israel has no obligation to help a territory/statelet that is sworn to its destruction, but it has every interest in helping Palestinian Arabs succeed economically and securely.

The Palestinian Arabs themselves see this much more clearly than those sophisticated Western analysts. The biased audio report I linked to this morning from NPR, where a former Hamas supporter in Gaza rues her vote, is a voice that the MSM does not want us to hear because the "Israeli siege" meme is the accepted narrative.

Ordinary Palestinian Arabs are the major beneficiaries of peace - real peace, real cooperation, on the ground. Israel, even in the midst of rocket barrages from the south, is working hard to improve the lives of those in the east.

The economy was booming before the Intifada as well. Those who blame Israel for defending herself from terror are not being "pro-Palestinian" - they are Jew-haters who are, at best, indifferent to the plight of the Palestinian Arabs they pretend to love so much.

It is not Israel that stops Palestinian Arabs from thriving and succeeding - it is a direct result of how their leadership chooses to act.

Why is this so hard for the mainstream media to understand?