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
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.
After two consecutive years of impressive economic growth in the West Bank,
the Palestinian economy now faces a slowdown. According to IMF estimates, in the
first half of 2011 real GDP growth amounted to approximately 4% (compared to
real GDP for the first half of 2010), a decline from the 8% annual growth rate
the previous year.
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.