The first article in this series explained how the Palestinian Authority (PA) economy has been strangled by Israeli security measures and plundered by Palestinian corruption. Things were made even worse with the start of the 2nd Intifada, causing Israel's security measures to tighten even further and be employed even more frequently. Not to mention the destruction to businesses, crops and workforce deaths caused by renewed violence. This led to a recession in 2001-02. The Intifada and the Israeli separation wall, starting in late 2002, led to hundreds of Palestinians losing work in Israel. This, among other things meant the PA economy struggled to climb out of recession.
The Western boycott of the PA, withholding of aid and tax revenues collected on their behalf by Israel - initiated after the Hamas victory in the Jan. 2006 elections - made things far worse. The PA had no money to pay its 140,000 employees; the main breadwinners for 1/3 of families and the limping PA economy were crippled. One can imagine the extreme levels of unemployment and poverty this created in the Palestinian territories.
Palestinian exports could be a major boost for the fragile economy with Western support, both financially and also in applying pressure on Israel to ease restrictions. As things stand, Palestinian exports are tiny compared to what they could be. For instance, despite the warm climate and fertile land, there are no significant fruit exports or vineyards. Because of the publicity Palestine has received through news coverage, I believe Palestinian wine could sell massively on the global export market.
Then there’s the olive tree. There are olive groves 1,500 and 2,000 years old. The Mediterranean climate, fertile soil and organic farming methods should make Palestinian olives and olive oil world-beating products.
The West Bank's estimated 10 million olive trees, and the 36, 000 tonnes of oil they produce, constitute 1/5 of Palestinian agriculture so vital in the crippled Palestinian economy. Despite its heritage and quality, it is estimated that half the Palestinian olive crop goes unsold. This is largely because of restrictions mentioned above.
The growers tending their groves day-to-day often depend on whether or not an Israeli patrol knows or cares whether or not to hinder them. Not only do the patrols often prevent the growers from reaching their crop; they also stand by idly while land-hungry settlers harass, beat and throw rocks at the growers daily in a bid to drive them off their land. Many times, settlers harvest the crop for themselves.