UN / UNCTAD OCCUPATION REPORT

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02-Dec-2019 00:02:22
The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) said the fiscal cost of the Israeli occupation for the Palestinian people between 2000 and to 2017 is estimated at 47.7 billion USD, three times the size of the Palestinian economy in 2017 and it continues to rise. UNIFEED

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STORY: UN / UNCTAD OCCUPATION REPORT
TRT: 2:22
SOURCE: UNIFEED
RESTRICTIONS: NONE
LANGUAGE: ENGLISH / NATS

DATELINE: 02 DECEMBER 2019, NEW YORK CITY

SHOTLIST:

FILE - NEW YORK CITY

1. Wide shot, UNHQ exterior

02 DECEMBER 2019, NEW YORK CITY

2. Wide shot, press room
3. Med shot, videographers
4. SOUNDBITE (English) Mahmoud Elkhafif, Coordinator of the Assistance to the Palestinian People, United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD):
“Whatever we have reported here does not include everything. In a sense, the economic cost, even the fiscal cost, of occupation is an evolving thing because we have difficulty in measuring all of the elements. So, what we are saying is that what we are reporting tomorrow to the GA (General Assembly) is not a final figure; it is an evolving thing. The more we have information, the more we have data, then we could calculate more costs.”
5. Med shot, journalist asking question
6. SOUNDBITE (English) Mahmoud Elkhafif, Coordinator of the Assistance to the Palestinian People, United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD):
“It is good to have this issue because actually, this is not only an incentive to the Palestinians, but actually also to the Israelis. Because ultimately this money is Palestinian money, and they do agree to this. As a matter of fact, the indirect import, we started this back in 2010 and then we got engaged with the Central Bank of Israel. The Central Bank of Israel did not deny the issue of indirect imports, but they said our calculation is a bit high. So, in a sense, they asked us to have this on record. It helps in negotiations. It will help in the future negotiations.”
7. Med shot, journalist asking question
8. SOUNDBITE (English) Mahmoud Elkhafif, Coordinator of the Assistance to the Palestinian People, United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD):
“The economic cost of occupation – and here I’m talking about the economic not only the revenue lost; we are handling only one element – is a huge thing. And sometimes there is no methodology to do it. I would give you an example. For example, natural gas in the Mediterranean Sea. How could you calculate the cost of Israel using natural gas that is supposed to be in the Gaza water? To start with, how could you calculate the cost of a sovereign decision - not only sovereign for this generation, but sovereign for the future generations – to decide to extract a non-renewable resource? In a sense, if Israel is using the Palestinian natural gas, then Israel is taking this not on the behalf of the existing generation, but also on behalf of the future generation.”
9. Wide shot, press room

STORYLINE:

The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) said the fiscal cost of the Israeli occupation for the Palestinian people between 2000 and to 2017 is estimated at 47.7 billion USD, three times the size of the Palestinian economy in 2017 and it continues to rise.

In a report entitled ‘Economic cost of the Israeli occupation for the Palestinian people: Fiscal aspects’, UNCTAD said the figure comprises lost public revenues and interest payments. It includes 28.2 billion USD in estimated accrued interest and 6.6 billion USD of leaked Palestinian fiscal revenues to Israel.

This estimated cumulative fiscal cost of occupation would not only have eliminated the Palestinian budget deficit estimated at 17.7 billion USD during the same period but would have also generated a surplus nearly twice the size of the deficit. Alternatively, it would have increased more than tenfold the Palestinian government’s development spending, pegged at 4.5 billion USD during the period under review.

Speaking to reporter in New York today (02 Dec), UNCTAD’s Coordinator of the Assistance to the Palestinian People, Mahmoud Elkhafif, said the report would be considered by the UN General Assembly (GA) tomorrow and was produced based on five consecutive GA resolutions asking for an assessment of the economic cost of the Israeli occupation.

He said the report focused only on the fiscal cost of occupation, meaning the amount of revenue lost by the Palestinian Government as a result of occupation.

SOUNDBITE (English) Mahmoud Elkhafif, Coordinator of the Assistance to the Palestinian People, United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD):
“Whatever we have reported here does not include everything. In a sense, the economic cost, even the fiscal cost, of occupation is an evolving thing because we have difficulty in measuring all of the elements. So, what we are saying is that what we are reporting tomorrow to the GA (General Assembly) is not a final figure; it is an evolving thing. The more we have information, the more we have data, then we could calculate more costs.”

A simulation of UNCTAD’s model of the Palestinian economy, under the assumption that the 48 billion USD fiscal costs were not lost but instead injected through expansionary fiscal policies, indicates that the economy would have generated two million job opportunities over the 18-year period, an average of 111,000 jobs each year.

The report attributes the fiscal losses to the measures imposed by the Israeli occupation, which include, among others: restrictions on the free movement of the Palestinian people and goods; control by Israel of Area “C” in the West Bank and all border crossing points; denying the Palestinian people their right to freely utilize their land, natural and human resources; and depriving the Palestinian government of meaningful control over its fiscal resources.

The fiscal cost consists of two components: leakage of Palestinian fiscal resources to Israel and other fiscal losses resulting from policies and measures imposed under the prolonged occupation.

According to the report, the estimates of fiscal costs are partial and conservative. Therefore, there is a need for further research to identify and quantify other channels of Palestinian fiscal losses. UNCTAD said it is clear, however, that the fiscal leakage and cost perpetuate the fiscal fragility of the State of Palestine and undermine its capacity for planning and financing development to steer the economy towards sustainable growth.

Elkhafif said reporting on the economic cost of occupation had previously produced results after negotiation and was beneficial to both sides.

SOUNDBITE (English) Mahmoud Elkhafif, Coordinator of the Assistance to the Palestinian People, United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD):
“It is good to have this issue because actually, this is not only an incentive to the Palestinians, but actually also to the Israelis. Because ultimately this money is Palestinian money, and they do agree to this. As a matter of fact, the indirect import, we started this back in 2010 and then we got engaged with the Central Bank of Israel. The Central Bank of Israel did not deny the issue of indirect imports, but they said our calculation is a bit high. So, in a sense, they asked us to have this on record. It helps in negotiations. It will help in the future negotiations.”

The report recommends that stopping the fiscal cost of occupation would entail a fundamental change in many working arrangements, including: border crossing points and access of Palestinian officials to these points as well as to Area “C”; import policies and import surveillance mechanisms; exchange of import information, data and records.

The report notes that Israeli and Palestinian sides may consider negotiating all outstanding issues to resolve accumulated dues to the Palestinian people, and to establish a mechanism through which the Israeli government may share with the Palestinians all the information related to Palestinian trade and fiscal resources.

The UNCTAD Coordinator of the Assistance to the Palestinian People said the big picture of the economic cost of occupation is a “huge thing” adding that there sometimes was “no methodology to do it.” He said, “For example, natural gas in the Mediterranean Sea. How could you calculate the cost of Israel using natural gas that is supposed to be in the Gaza water? To start with, how could you calculate the cost of a sovereign decision - not only sovereign for this generation, but sovereign for the future generations – to decide to extract a non-renewable resource? In a sense, if Israel is using the Palestinian natural gas, then Israel is taking this not on the behalf of the existing generation, but also on behalf of the future generation.”

The United Nations maintains its long-standing position that lasting and comprehensive peace can only be achieved through a negotiated two-State solution.

UNCTAD said the Secretary-General would continue to ensure that the United Nations works towards the establishment of an independent, democratic, contiguous and viable Palestinian State, living side by side in peace with a secure Israel, with Jerusalem as the capital of both States consistent with relevant Security Council resolutions and international law.
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