The quality of life in West Bank cities like Nablus, Ramallah, and Qaliqilya is on the rise. Culture and leisure activities are increasingly available to West Bank Palestinians who enjoy movies, health clubs, malls, restaurants, and music festivals.
In 2009, the West Bank enjoyed a significant economic recovery, with economic growth reaching an unprecedented 8% - a continuation of positive trends reported in 2008. Macroeconomic conditions in the West Bank improved during 2009, mainly thanks to measures taken by Israel to support economic activity, improvements in the security situation in the West Bank, the continued financial support of the international community to the Palestinian Authority and increased foreign investment. This economic growth is reflected in an improved quality of life for the Palestinian population. There is an increase in new real estate projects, both residential and commercial. Rawabi, the first planned Palestinian city, is being built with the help of Israeli consultants. The West Bank boasts one of the world's strongest stock exchanges, the Palestinian Securities Exchange, (PSE), which grew 12.5% last year. It is ranked 33 among international stock exchanges and second in the region in terms of investor protection.
An Israeli Cabinet Ministerial Committee, chaired by the Prime Minister, was established in May 2009, dedicated to facilitating economic projects for the Palestinian population in the West Bank and removing obstacles to economic growth. The establishment of this Committee reflects the high priority accorded by the government to Palestinian economic development. Its objectives include examining ways to encourage the movement of goods and people, removing impediments to the progress of economic projects in the West Bank, as well as eliminating bureaucratic impediments in this area.
Removal of checkpoints in the West Bank
There has been a substantial improvement of access and movement in the West Bank. Major Israeli checkpoints have been reduced from 42 to 14 today, greatly eliminating the restrictions imposed on Palestinians due to security concerns following terrorist attacks. Remaining checkpoints are now open 24 hours a day in most cases. In 2009, Israel issued 54,318 employment permits to Palestinians for work in Israel. Some 1,500 high profile Palestinian business people have open entry permits to Israel (2009).
In 2009, Israel made intensive efforts to upgrade and improve the capacity of the commercial crossings, including the Allenby Bridge Terminal to Jordan and upgrading the commercial crossings between Israel and the West Bank.
A number of infrastructure projects are currently in different stages of implementation in the West Bank. These projects will help improve the standard of living for the local population, including among others the upgrading of water, electriticy and sanitation infrastructures.