I am aware of the recent report issued by the World Bank which found that Israel's continued control of Area C deprives the Palestinian economy of an estimated $3.4 billion a year. The report was also raised in recent discussions which my colleague, the Minister of State for Trade and Development, Joe Costello, had with Palestinian representatives, including Foreign Minister Malki, during his recent visit to the Occupied Palestinian Territory. The World Bank estimate that if Israeli restrictions on Palestinian access to, and activity and production in, Area C were lifted, the total potential value could amount to some $3.4 billion or some 35% of Palestinian GDP, at 2011 levels. The resulting increase in revenues for the Palestinian Authority could amount to $800 million which would notionally cut its fiscal deficit by half, thereby significantly reducing the need for recurrent donor support.
At a time when the Palestinian economy is facing significant pressures, with declining aid levels and GDP growth having fallen to 1.9 per cent in the first half of 2013, compared to an average 9% over the period 2008-2011, the economic benefits of greater Palestinian control of Area C and its resources are obvious. Ireland has for decades been clear on the need for an urgent end to Israel's occupation. This report merely underlines the unacceptable costs to Palestinians of continuing failure to end the occupation and realise the undoubted economic dividend and benefits which will flow from a negotiated peace deal and realisation of the two State solution.