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The Situation of the Population of the Palestinian Authority: An Economic and Living Assessment

An open-air jail

An open-air jail. That is what Palestine is called. It is not known who came up with this name, but let’s look at the facts and draw our own conclusions.

The Palestinian Autonomy is a territorial entity consisting of two parts, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. These two territories are separated by Israel, which creates special conditions for the economic and social development of the population. In this article we will examine the situation of the population of the Palestinian Autonomy, assessing its economic condition, standard of living and other important aspects.
Of course, we must remember that such studies are relevant for peacetime, and what happened on October 7 changed both statistics and emotions.

Economic situation

GDP and economic growth

According to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), real GDP per capita in the West Bank increased by more than 50% between 2007 and 2022. However, in the Gaza Strip, the figure declined by more than 50% during the same time (IMF, 2023). This indicates a significant difference in economic development between the two parts of the Palestinian Autonomy. This is not surprising, since the construction of Hamas’ underground tunnels will require as much additional funding as the construction of the Moscow Metro.

As you can see, the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip is losing significantly to the PNA-controlled West Bank. But let’s not be too hasty.

Fertility and demographic situation

The Palestinian Autonomy has a high birth rate, with a population growth rate of 2.4% per year (2021, Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics). The percentage of the population under 14 years of age is 37.9% and between 15 and 29 years of age is 28.4%. This means that more than two-thirds of the population is under the age of 29 (PCBS, 2021). This demographic structure presents its own peculiarities and challenges in terms of employment and meeting the needs of young people.

Trade and dependence on Israel

Exports and imports

GAZA Map - An open-air jail
Is Gaza an Open Air Prison? An open-air jail

As IMF data show, for both the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, Israel is the main trading partner. In 2022, the Gaza Strip imported goods from Israel equivalent to 54% of GDP and exports to Israel amounted to 6.5% of GDP. As for the West Bank, imports from Israel amount to 70% of GDP and exports to Israel amount to 21% of GDP (IMF, 2022). Thus, the economies of the Palestinian Autonomy are closely linked to the Israeli economy.

Gaza shares a border with Egypt, and trade with Egypt is growing. From Egypt, 35,000 to 36,000 trucks of construction materials, food, and fuel enter Gaza every year.

Labor migration and dependency

22.5% of the West Bank’s working population is employed in Israel, and their income accounts for 24% of the territory’s GDP. In Gaza, only 0.8% work in Israel (IMF, 2022).

Thus, the economies of Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza are intertwined, although the difference between a close, “peaceful” connection with the West Bank and a cold detachment from Gaza is clearly visible. If this is the place in the world where rocket attacks or terrorist raids begin, how can one trade peacefully and extensively with it?

Today, Palestinians cannot work in Israel. This creates huge problems not only for them, but also for the Israeli economy.

Living standards and social indicators
Life expectancy
Life expectancy (at birth)GeneralMW
Life expectancy (at birth) is one of the main indicators of health system quality in the World Health Organization (WHO) evaluation criteria. It has a direct correlation with the indicator of total health expenditures.

Life expectancy in the Palestinian Autonomy is 73.5 years. This is higher than in Russia (69,3 years), Kazakhstan (69.4 years) and Belarus (72.4 years) (UN, 2021). Thus, the population of the Palestinian Autonomy has a relatively high standard of living compared to some other countries in the region.

Can you imagine, many countries with rich resources are at a disadvantage to Palestine.

Income level and GDP per capita

GDP per capita at face value in the Palestinian Autonomy is $3,500 (2023, IMF projection). This figure is comparable to the economies of countries such as Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia, and Egypt. When comparing GDP per capita at purchasing power parity (PPP), which takes into account differences in domestic prices across countries, the Palestinian Authority also shows a level comparable to the economies of Pakistan, Nicaragua, Burma, Honduras, and Bangladesh (IMF, 2023).

RegionGDP per capita (nominal)GDP per capita (PPP)
Palestine3,500 dollars.6,438 dollars.
Tajikistan1,400 dollars.
Nigeria2,300 dollars.
Morocco3.700 dollars.
Tunisia4.100 dollars.
Egypt3,600 dollars.

Region GDP per capita (nominal) GDP per capita (PPP) Palestinian Autonomy 3.5 thousand dollars 6.7 thousand dollars Algeria 4.5 thousand dollars – Morocco 3.7 thousand dollars – Tunisia 4.1 thousand dollars – Egypt 3.6 thousand dollars – “The Palestinian Authority is a developing economy with a high birth rate and life expectancy. Despite some challenges, such as dependence on Israel and unemployment problems, the people of the Palestinian Autonomy continue to strive to improve their economic and social situation.”

At the same time, 77% of families in Gaza receive international aid (money + food), while only 10% in the West Bank receive it. This assistance mainly goes through the United Nations (United Nations Relief and Works Agency).

Internet and technological development

71% of the population of the Palestinian Autonomy uses the Internet. This figure is comparable to countries such as Egypt, Jordan, Algeria, Lebanon, and Morocco (WAFA, 2020). Approximately 1/3 of Palestinian households have at least one computer and 8% of internet users buy goods or services online (2020, WAFA). This indicates the development of information technology and the availability of digital resources in society.

Challenges and prospects
Unemployment and youth

One of the main challenges for the Palestinian Autonomy is the problem of unemployment, especially among the youth. In the Gaza Strip, unemployment is as high as 45% and in the West Bank it is 13% (IMF, 2022). This creates difficulties in providing employment and improving living standards for youth.

The tax system and the fight against corruption

The Palestinian Authority has a low tax burden of only 23-25% of GDP. This compares to countries such as Russia and Israel, where the tax burden is much higher (35-36% of GDP). However, according to Transparency International, the Palestinian Authority does not rank high in the corruption rankings, fluctuating between 70th and 80th in the world.

Palestinian protesters remove part of the Israeli barbed wire during clashes with Israeli security forces, at the Israel-Gaza border, in east of Gaza city on April 13, 2018. Photo: / MEGA /NTB Scanpix
Palestinian protesters remove part of the Israeli barbed wire during clashes with Israeli security forces, at the Israel-Gaza border, in east of Gaza city on April 13, 2018. Photo: / MEGA /NTB Scanpix -n An open-air jail

The level of illiteracy of the people who sing “from the river to the sea” is hard to imagine. But that is no excuse for them.

The life of the population of the Palestinian Authority is characterized by certain features and challenges. Economically, the division into the West Bank and the Gaza Strip creates a significant difference in development and dependence on Israel. However, the population of the Palestinian Authority has a relatively high standard of living comparable to some other countries in the region. Despite some challenges, such as unemployment and the fight against corruption, the Palestinian Authority continues to develop and strive to improve the lives of its people.

We can look at these figures with nostalgia, but any thoughts on cooperation and peaceful coexistence are not relevant today. What happened on October 7 left a mark for a long time. The day after the war, a New History will be written not only for Israel and Palestine, but also for the entire Middle East and for the world as a whole.

Don’t forget that 1,392 people were killed, sadistically (!), in a single day… Hamas has taken over 250 hostages, most of them women and children. If they were all released, some talks might still be possible.

Data sources and article references

  1. IMF. “Economic Outlook for the West Bank and Gaza in the Aftermath of COVID-19.” (2023)
  2. Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS). Data on demographics and economic indicators. (2021-2023)
  3. UNITED NATIONS. Life expectancy data for different countries. (2021)
  4. WAFA. Articles on the development of information technology and internet usage in the Palestinian Authority. (2020)

Please note: this material was created based on the analysis of several articles and is unique and original. It presents facts and ideas extracted from various sources and systematized in chronological order.

We ask you to continue to spread the truth with us. The world needs to know what is happening in the Middle East.

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