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Palestinians: Economic Situation

Volume 460: debated on Wednesday 23 May 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what discussions he has had with international colleagues on the economic situation in the West Bank and Gaza. (138445)

I regularly discuss the economic situation in the West Bank and Gaza with counterparts from across the international community, and I recently met with the Palestinian Finance Minister, Salaam Fayyad.

I remain concerned about the economic situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPTs). Average incomes are almost 40 per cent. below their 1999 levels and poverty is rising. The Palestinian Authority faces a massive funding shortfall, in large part due to the withholding of customs revenues by Israel. Restrictions on movement are a severe constraint on business.

DFID is responding with £15 million in contributions through the Temporary International Mechanism, which supports basic services and pays allowances to public sector employees and the poorest Palestinians. We are also developing support to stimulate investment and business innovation in the OPTs.