An annual report published by the United Nations Trade and Development Agency warned that the Palestinians are trapped in an economy of jobless growth with no prospects, especially in the Gaza Strip, which the report claimed, ‘is undergoing de-development’. According to the report, unemployment in the Palestinian territories was the highest in the world in 2017, at 27.4 percent, with half of the Palestinian population under 30 registered as unemployed; while agricultural production fell by 11 percent. Furthermore, the report noted that while the Palestinian economy grew by 3.1 percent, these figures were flat on a per capita basis. According to UNCTAD Coordinator of Assistance to the Palestinians Mahmoud Elkhafif, “The economy has grown by 4%, but again, it is a jobless growth. As a matter of fact, the Occupied Palestinian Territory has the highest unemployment rate in the world. It has about 27.4% unemployment and keep in mind that this is the strict definition of the ILO (International Labor Organization) which does not include those people who are no longer looking for job because they are so frustrated. Actually, if we include that, usually the relax definition of unemployment, it is usually about 4% to 5% higher than the announced unemployment rate.” Specifically mentioning the severe humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip, the Agency’s Coordinator of Assistance to the Palestinian people revealed that more than 80 percent of the population in the Hamas-run territory are receiving social assistance from international organizations, while the unemployment rate is some 4 to 5 percent higher than the Palestinian average. “Half of the population in Gaza is food insecure, this is despite the fact that 80% of the population gets a social assistance. That was when we were writing this report, I don’t know about now, after UNRWA (United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees) cuts. The real income in Gaza is 30% below its level in 1999,” stressed Mahmoud Elkhafif. According to the UN Agency, the major reason for what they termed “this dark situation from the economic development point of view” is a set of Israeli restrictions that have been installed against the Palestinian territory – primarily Jerusalem’s decision to limit the number of Palestinians allowed to enter into Israel for work.
In response to the report, and the allegations that were levelled toward Israel, a senior Jerusalem official told TV7 that “the Agency’s accusations against the Jewish state were a mere joke that once again portrays the United Nations as a theater of the absurd.” The official added,
“The fact that some 80 percent of the population of Gaza, which is run by the internationally recognized terror group Hamas, are relaying on international aid through the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees, points to the absurdity of the organization, which perpetuates the bad living conditions of the Palestinian population, rather than creating a foundation of economic growth and job opportunities.”