Israel’s Control of ‘Area C’ Deprives Palestinian Economy of $3 B annually, says Ministry of National Economy

RAMALLAH, November 16, 2014 (WAFA) – The Israeli control of Area C, approximately 62% of the total area of the West Bank, deprives the Palestinian economy of over US$3 billion a year, according to a report published by the Ministry of National Economy.

The report said Israel’s control of area ‘C’ kills possibilities of Palestinian sustainable economic development, causing annual losses estimated at billions of dollars, especially in the stone and marble sector.

Manal Farhan, director of the Industrial Development section at the ministry, said Israel’s full control of Area C, which is rich of natural resources, particularly stone, prevents any industrial development in the quarrying and stone industry.

According to the World Bank, Area C is rich in stone, with estimated deposits of some 20,000 dunums of quarryable land.

She noted that if the Israeli restrictions are lifted, the productivity and revenues of the stone sector are likely to multiply.

Palestine occupies the twelfth country worldwide in terms of stone production with an estimated annual production of around 22 million square meters.

According to the Union of Stone AND Marble (USM), the stone and marble industry contributes approximately 25% to Palestine’s overall industrial revenues, making up 4.5% of the total Palestinian Gross National Product (GNP), and 5.5% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

The industry has also the largest percentage of employment of the Palestinian labor force, with more than 13,500 workers engaged in the sector, adds the union.

The total annual revenue of this industry is estimated at $450 million, 65% of which come from exports to Israel and about 15% come from direct exports to international markets (USM Statistics) and 20% in the local market.