Business & Economy

US may sell up to $600 million to Israeli Air Force, after Israel-US agreement on China

This week, the United States said it may sell up to $600 million in equipment and services to Israel for maintenance of the engines on the Israeli Air Force’s F-15 and F-16 figher planes. The sale would cover support for Pratt and Whitney F-100 engines, spare and repair parts, testing, training, and other services for 10 years, the U.S. Defense Department said in a notice to the American Congress. Athough the US government has reportedly postponed working with Israel to develop a Joint Strike Fighter airplane because of concern about Israel’s sales to China, the US has provided Israel with funds to develop new weapons. According to US law, government authorized transfers or sales of controlled defence articles can be used only for internal security or defensive purposes. 

OPEC Fund replenishes special grant account for Palestine

The OPEC Fund for International Development today announced the allocation of fresh resources to its Special Grant Account for Palestine. The US$15 million replenishment was approved by the Fund’s highest policy-making body, the Ministerial Council, meeting at its 26th Annual Session in Seefeld, Austria. The Special Account was established by the Fund in 2002, with an initial endowment of US$10 million, to channel assistance to operations that would alleviate hardship and prevent further impoverishment and suffering among the Palestinian people. Boosted by an additional US$15 million in 2004, the Account has supported numerous initiatives, ranging from the rebuilding of damaged infrastructure and the provision of medical assistance, to micro-credit and a wide range of capacity-building and social projects. 

Situation of workers in occupied Palestine continues to deteriorate

Despite a new climate of dialogue among Israelis and Palestinians, conditions of life for workers and their families in the occupied Arab territories continue to be extremely hard, according to a report issued by the International Labour Office (ILO). While domestic output grew in 2004 following four years of recession in the Palestinian economy, the unemployment rate in the occupied Arab territories increased to close to 26 per cent, reaching a record 224,000 unemployed, says the report. Fewer than half of all men of working age and only 10 per cent of women of working age are employed. As a result, every employed person in the region supports six persons in the total population. 

USAID begins repairing seven critical West Bank roads

The American government launched an ambitious $12 million road reconstruction program Friday to improve commerce and traffic between West Bank communities. The road renovation project is one of the development projects that the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) is accelerating as a sign of America’s commitment to support the democratically-elected Palestinian leadership. In consultation with the Palestinian Ministry of Planning and the Palestinian Ministry of Public Works and Housing, seven key roads totaling 38.5 kilometers were selected for reconstruction. 

From layman to expert, economic prospects look bleak

Hasan Namle, 51, remembers better days. When he used to work in Israel, he could make as much as NIS6,000 (approx. $1,400) a month in the construction field, he says. Those days are long gone. He was barred from working in Israel in 1996, long before the Aqsa Intifada broke out. His crime was being suspected of having links to Hamas. He says he has none now and had none then. Nevertheless he was never allowed back and had to think of alternatives. Now he runs a small poultry shop in the camp. “I make 36 agarot per kilo. On a good day I will make NIS36 ($8),” he said, sprawled on a mattress where he and two sons sleep when it is warm on the porch outside their three-room dwelling. 

UN review paints gloomy picture of 2004 economy in occupied Palestinian territory

Around half of the Palestinian population was living below the official poverty line last year, more than double the number in 2000, unemployment increased, and there is no hope for improvement unless guarded optimism on the political front is translated into economic activity, according to the latest review of the humanitarian situation in the occupied Palestinian territory for 2004. The report summarises the main humanitarian trends in the occupied Palestinian territory in 2004. It is an updated version of the report submitted in November 2004 by UN agencies working in the occupied Palestinian territory to the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee. 

OPEC approves US$2 million grant to help Palestinians affected by Separation Wall

The OPEC Fund for International Development today extended a US$2 million grant to help alleviate social and economic hardship among Palestinians affected by the so-called separation wall. The grant will co-finance a major initiative that aims to generate employment, boost agricultural productivity and improve access to basic social services among the concerned communities. An estimated 210,000 people reside in towns and villages in the West Bank that have been turned into isolated enclaves as a result of the separation wall. The wall has deprived people of education and healthcare facilities and cut off many agricultural communities from their farmland. The impact on economic activity and on the welfare of the population is severe. 

European Anti-Fraud Office closes investigation into aid to Palestinian Authority

The European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF) has closed its investigation into the European Commission’s Direct Assistance to the Palestinian Authority’s budget. On the basis of the information currently available to OLAF, the investigation has found no conclusive evidence of support of armed attacks or unlawful activities financed by the European Commission’s contributions to the budget. However, the possibility of misuse of the Palestinian Authority’s budget and other resources, cannot be excluded, due to the fact that the internal and external audit capacity in the Palestinian Authority is still underdeveloped. 

Two members of the Management Board of the Palestine Investment Fund resign

GAZA — Two members of the management board of the Palestine Investment Fund have submitted their resignations from the management board, an informed Palestinian source has confirmed to al-Quds (newspaper). The source added that businessman Samir Said Khouri and businessman Engineer Jawdat al-Khudari submitted their resignations effective this month from the Fund’s management board due to disagreements within the board over the mechanism for managing the Fund’s investments in Arab countries. 

Secretary-General discusses shattered Palestinian economy

United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan has discussed with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas the importance of freedom of movement in occupied Palestinian lands in improving the economy, an essential pillar in securing peace with Israel. In a speech to the session Mr. Annan cited economic development as “the third pillar of the progress we hope to see,” side by side with governance and security, noting that without real and discernible change such as more jobs and the removal of Israeli checkpoints and roadblocks, the Palestinian economy will continue to struggle, sowing prolonged, pervasive despair among the Palestinian populace.