While the Palestinian Authority (PA) has been threatening a financial meltdown over the U.S. decision to withhold aid and its own refusal to accept taxes collected by Jerusalem, the residents of the areas under its control have been flourishing. Dan Zaken explains why:
Exports from the West Bank to Israel have grown and Israelis—mainly Israeli Arabs—are coming to West Bank cities to buy goods. The shopping malls of Jenin, Tulkarem, and Kalkilya are packed every weekend with tens of thousands of Israeli Arabs who come to buy in the stores and eat in the restaurants. Jerusalem Arabs go shopping in Ramallah and Bethlehem. . . .
[P]erhaps most significant of all is that the Palestinian economy is based mainly on the private rather than the public sector. . . . [T]he 130,000 Palestinian workers employed in Israel [have an] average salary of over 5,000 shekels ($1,400) per month, two-and-a-half times the average salary in the Palestinian autonomous areas. Income in this sector . . . is even rising, as are the number of requests for licenses to work in Israel. The number of Palestinians working in Israel, [whether in Jewish areas of the West Bank or in other parts of the country], also is rising constantly. New facilities at the border checkpoints have shortened lines and waiting times at the crossings from hours to minutes.
The continual growth of construction in Jewish settlements in Judea and Samaria, after years in which new building was frozen, has also . . . provided more work for Palestinians. Moreover, it’s easier and quicker for a Palestinian to get a work permit for such work, which pays “Israel-level” salaries.
On a tour of Bethlehem, I met several merchants and industrialists who said that while the Israelis continue easing their regulations and requirements and the Palestinians don’t make problems, then the economy will prosper. . . . The Palestinian public has no real motivation to resume rioting and the confrontation with Israel from an economic point of view. They have too much to lose. That does not mean to say that there won’t be terrorist attacks or that the situation is marvelous, but it is very far from being an incendiary situation about to explode.