The volatile political and economic situation in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt), especially in the Gaza Strip, confronts UNDP’s Programme of Assistance to the Palestinian People (PAPP) with a number of challenges that hinder essential development assistance.
In strengthening its focus on particularly affected geographic areas and vulnerable populations (Gaza, East Jerusalem and Area C), UNDP’s key areas of assistance include: Strengthening Democratic Governance and the Social Contract, Promoting Productivity and Dignity through Livelihoods, Protecting Natural Resources and the Environment and Public and Social Infrastructure.
The Gaza Strip has been deprived of development since the imposition by Israel of a comprehensive blockade in 2007. As a result, development and reconstruction needs in the Strip are enormous: from governance and livelihoods to environment and infrastructure, especially in the aftermath of the military Operation Cast Lead (December 2008-January 2009) and November 2012. Unemployment rates in Gaza remain high; all while some 80 percent of the population receives humanitarian assistance in the absence of socio-economic development.
In East Jerusalem, Palestinians face restrictive construction policies and, as a result, experience a growing housing and property crisis. The erection of the Separation Wall has undermined the economy of East Jerusalem and is a main cause of growing unemployment rates. Basic services and access to land are unequally distributed by the Jerusalem municipality and are insufficient to cater to Palestinians’ natural development needs, including housing, education and health.
Development in Area C too is subjected to restrictive policies and practices, hampering any socio-economic development or access to natural resources for the Palestinians. Area C is, however, pivotal for the realization of a Palestinian State. It constitutes 62 percent of the West Bank and contains the bulk of Palestinian agricultural and grazing land, water sources and underground reservoirs. It is also the only space available for the expansion of Palestinian population centres and infrastructure, and thus forms the backbone of territorial contiguity in the West Bank.