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Friday, 25 September 2020

UN warns of ‘Palestinian economic collapse’ amid COVID-19

Ahram Online , Monday 1 Jun 2020
World Bank
FILE - In this Sept. 29, 2015, file photo, Palestinians walk past a boutique in the West Bank city of Ramallah. The World Bank says the Palestinian economy could shrink by as much as 11% in the coming year as the coronavirus pandemic inflicts yet another blow to the Palestinian Authority’s already shaky finances. (Photo: AP)
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The United Nations (UN) warned against a “Palestinian economic collapse” on Sunday due to financial and developmental challenges facing their political leadership as a result of coronavirus.

In a paper published by the UN special coordinator for the Middle East Process’ (UNSCO) office, the socioeconomic impact of COVID-19 on the Palestinian people was described as “immense.”

“The Palestinian Authority needs increased financial and development assistance to address its public health needs, provide essential services, and respond to the socioeconomic impact of the pandemic,” said the paper said. The paper also added that “considerable concerns regarding the ability of the Palestinian health sector to cope with a surge in cases, especially in Gaza,” remain in place.

According to figures provided by the World Health Organization (WHO) on 31 May, the occupied Palestinian territories have 627 cases of coronavirus. Some 523 people have recovered so far, while five others have lost their lives. The paper referred to the “relatively successful prevention efforts in the OPT” despite its other concerns.

In the meantime, the UN document warned that “any move by Israel to annex parts of the occupied West Bank or any Palestinian withdrawal from bilateral agreements would dramatically shift local dynamics and most likely trigger conflict and instability in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip.”

“All sides must do their part in the coming weeks and months in order to preserve the prospect of a negotiated two-state resolution to the conflict, in line with relevant UN resolutions, international law and bilateral agreements,” said UN special coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Nickolay Mladenove.

The recent agreement on the formation of a new coalition government in Israel — jointly created by Israel’s Premier Benjamin Netanyahu and Benny Gantz, leader of the Blue and White Party — stipulates that Israel will claim sovereignty over the whole West Bank by 1 July and implement the controversial peace plan that was developed by US President Donald Trump’s administration.

“A couple of months from now, I’m confident that that pledge will be honoured, that we will be able to celebrate another historic moment in the history of Zionism,” Netanyahu said on 27 April.

Despite US backing, such plans have been criticised by both the Arab League and the European Union.

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