JERICHO, West Bank – The World Bank says the Palestinians could expand their struggling economy by one-third if Israel allows them to use the 61 percent of West Bank territory that's now largely off-limits to them.
The bank has repeatedly called on Israel to lift the restrictions, but Tuesday's report is the first detailed attempt to quantify the losses.
The report says the Palestinian economy could add $3.4 billion in potential value a year, or 35 percent of the 2011 Gross Domestic Product, if Palestinians are allowed to develop the restricted area. The bank says the deficit of the Palestinian self-rule government, currently dependent on foreign aid, would drop by half.
Israel says it wants to see the Palestinian economy grow, but that the fate of the West Bank will be decided in negotiations.