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Military Establishment: Deteriorating West Bank Economy May Lead to Increased Terrorism

Some foreign nations transfer funds to Palestinians who commit terror, which may become more enticing to Palestinians as the West Bank economy worsens | According to the UN’s labor agency, more than 300,000 Palestinians have lost their jobs since Oct. 7

עובדים פלסטינים מחכים במחסום (צילום ארכיון: נתי שוחט / פלאש90)
Palestinian workers waiting at the checkpoint to enter Israel. (Archive photo: Nati Shochat / Flash90)
By Or Guetta

A document drafted earlier this month by the defense establishment warns that the deteriorating economic situation in the West Bank may lead to an increase in terrorist activity in the area.

The danger comes after months of economic distress for residents of the Palestinian Authority (PA) in the West Bank, who rely on the Israeli economy for work. Workers have found it difficult to work in Israel since the outbreak of the war and are struggling among cuts to the PA budget.

According to an analysis by the Israeli military and Shin Bet, the situation is likely to lead to terrorism due to the fact that Muslim countries, including hostile states such as Iran, offer large sums of money to those who carry out terrorist attacks. According to military assessments, foreign sources also finance the purchase and production of weapons in the West Bank. “A man who has to live and is hungry for bread, and the Iranians offer them 1,000 shekels [$270 USD] for an attack, wouldn’t think twice,” a senior military source told Army Radio.

Over the past year, Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich has ordered huge cuts in the transfer of funds to the PA. In the past two months, Israel has also stopped transferring the taxes that it collects on behalf of the PA. Those taxes amount to about 750 million shekels ($200 million) each month, about 65% of the PA’s budget.

According to the International Labor Organization, more than 306,000 residents of the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank have lost their jobs since the war broke out. That comes on top of a preexisting unemployment rate of 13%.

The defense establishment’s document includes recommendations for the immediate future, with the aim of lessening the impact of the Palestinian economy and providing Palestinians with economic alternatives to terror. The document also proposes a more direct transfer of funds to the Palestinian public through the opening of border crossings into Palestinian territory on weekends. That would enable Israeli Arabs to shop in Palestinian cities, which could bring millions of shekels  into the Palestinian economy.

The proposal also suggests an allowance to bring more Palestinian workers into Israel through various models, including the potential of direct transportation of West Bank workers to construction sites in Israel and their return to PA territory after the end of a shift.

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