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"Withheld Lands"

What is affected
Housing Private
Land Social/public
Land Private
all logistical facilities and means of movement
Type of violation Dispossession/confiscation
Date 09 September 2003
Region MENA
Country Palestine
City Area C

Affected persons (number & composition)

Total 0
Men 0
Women 0
Children 0
Your solution

Withdraw occupation, reparations for affected population, prosecution of violators.

Download any important details Area+C+Report+Oct-13.pdf

Download any important development


Duty holder(s) /responsible party(ies)

Interntl org.
Private party
Israeli occupation
Brief narrative

In all developing countries, land assumes especially high importance to economic activity and development as the most common means of storing wealth and fundamental economic asset. In crisis situations, land provides an indispensable foundation for economic activity for agriculture, industries, housing and even self-determination. A contemporary World Bank report has assessed the consequences of Israel’s seizure and closure of land to the economy of the indigenous Palestinian society of the West Bank.[1] The report focuses on Area C, the territory that remains under Israeli civil and military jurisdiction under the lapsed Oslo Accords concluded 20 years ago.[2]


The World Bank assessment quantifies the consequence of Israel’s restriction on access to much of the land area, restrictions on movement of Palestinians and access to their natural resources


Area C constitutes approximately 59% of the West Bank, not including occupied Jerusalem. The physical access restrictions are the most apparent in the 38% of Area C where the State of Israel has confiscated public and private real property, established exclusively Jewish settler colonies and an associated security matrix of checkpoints, road closures, the Separation Waal and permit system to constrain movement of Palestinian people and goods within and out of the West Bank. The Bank report catalogs Israel’s destruction of trees, private homes and public infrastructure, as well as settlers’ encroachments on private land that combine to impede Palestinian investment in Area C. At the same time, the Israeli-imposed land-use and planning restrictions in Area C are no less detrimental to Palestinian economic development and confines existing villages with too little space for demographic growth, causing irrational land use and unsound environmental management.


Amid this institutionalized spatial and material discrimination, the territorial division distorts land markets by creating artificial land shortages. Vacant land is scarce in Area A and only the most accessible parts of Area B are suitable for development, while Area C is not an option for development due to the many obstacles Israeli civil and military authorities erect for Palestinians seeking construction permits. At the same time, demand is rising rapidly from a growing population, among them are potential investors lacking profitable opportunities but to concentrate activity in the fragmented Areas A and B.


More than half the land in the West Bank, much of it agricultural and resource rich, is inaccessible to Palestinians.  Starting in 2000, the West Banks economy has suffered steady decline, with overall GDP and per capita GDP, respectively, down 14% and 40% from their peak in 1999[3], and poverty remains on the increase. Meanwhile foreign aid has succeeded in doing little more than slowing down the deterioration of the economy, despite ever-greater aid levels.


This first quantification of the impact of “withheld land” sets the currents loss to the Palestinian economy at about US$3.4 billion. It poses scenarios in which recovery would result from the restoration of Area C lands to the jurisdiction of the Palestinian Authority. Welcome, too, would be the World Bank’s multilateral actions to bring about such remedy.

[1] The World Bank Social and Economic Development Group, Finance and Private Sector Development, Middle East and North Africa Region, The Economic Effects of Restricted Access to Land in the West Bank (Washington: World Bank, 2013).

[2] The Israeli-Palestinian Interim Agreement on the West Bank and Gaza Strip, Washington, D.C. (September 28, 1995), Article XI.

[3] World Bank, “Economic Developments and Prospects,” West Bank and Gaza Update (March 2008), p. 16.

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