Israel has removed most 'West Bank' roadblocks

Wednesday, August 15, 2012 |  Ryan Jones

When the Palestinian Arabs complain about the Israeli "occupation," they primarily like to point out the poor economic conditions under which they live and to blame that on Israeli security measures that make movement and commerce difficult.

In particular, these antagonists will call out Israel for establishing dozens of roadblocks and checkpoints throughout Judea and Samaria (the so-called "West Bank"), a move made necessary by years of incessant Palestinian terrorism.

But with the decline in Palestinian violence in recent years, Israel has responded in kind by reducing the number of roadblocks from 44 in 2008 to only 10 at the start of this year. Israel's Foreign Ministry further noted that those 10 roadblocks and checkpoints are "normally open."

Certainly a mere 10 checkpoints is not uncommon between a sovereign state and a territory that seeks to become a separate sovereign state.

Nevertheless, the reduction and the increased freedom of movement doesn't seem to be helping the Palestinian economy. (Hint: That's because the roadblocks were never the primarily problem in the first place.)

Despite the Israeli gestures, the Palestinian economy in the "West Bank" slowed to a growth rate of just 5.2 percent in 2011. The culprit was a government budget crisis created by donor nations failing to make good on their promises to the Palestinian Authority.

In the Palestinian-controlled territories, a majority of the workforce is employed by the Palestinian Authority, which itself is unable to fully operate without regular massive international aid.

Israeli officials have long argued that in its current condition, the Palestinian Authority will be unable to operate as a sovereign independent state. Palestinian leaders have come under years of criticism for failing to adequately establish the institutions and mechanisms of a healthy independent nation, which was one of their primary obligations under the "Oslo Accords."

Meanwhile, the Gaza Strip, which the world says Israel is choking to death, is experiencing and economic boom. The Gaza economy grew by a whopping 27 percent in 2011 thanks in large part to new building projects made possible by reduced Israeli border restrictions. The growth has meant a 23 percent increase in GDP for Gaza's residents.

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