United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs Sustainable Development


Allow me to begin by thanking you for the opportunity to share a few ideas that we believe are
of utmost relevance to our important discussion today.
The transportation sector in Palestine is one, while of vital importance to our development
efforts, remains significantly hindered by the reality of occupation. This is a sector that to lag
behind our set development goals due to the long- standing negligence of the occupying Power
in addition to military assaults targeting this sector.
The Palestinian Authority is working jointly with the donor community to improve the
transportation system in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. The regulation of the public
transport sector is also taking place in order to enhance mobility for Palestinians, in particular for
women and youth. The PA plans to increase safety in the system.
However, Planning and constructing the road system and transportation infrastructure is a
monumental task in the Occupied Palestinian Territory as it is tied to the draconian measures
imposed by the occupation authorities, which deprives Palestinians of control over their
resources as well as the right to improve conditions related to commerce and other economic
development activity. Hence, the execution of related Palestinian development plans is
contingent upon these measures. Consequently, the delays and obstructions facing the
development of this sector have directly impacted the economy and the prospects of
development as the transportation of peoples and goods is an integral part of the development
and economic process.
The lack of control over land, natural resources, and movement means that most sectors of the
Palestinian economy are hit hard by the punitive and illegal restrictions imposed by the
Occupying Power. The Occupation?s regime of walls, settlements and closures has restricted the
growth of Palestinian commercial activity as well as urban development and expansion. For
example Israel?s illegal settlement regimes has shrunk the Bethlehem governorate by 87%.
Palestinians can now access only 13% of the governorate?s land; much of it fragmented and
already populated. This makes it virtually impossible to implement projects vital to improving
the transportation system, much less proper plan for the sector?s development.
According to recent World Bank reports, Israeli checkpoints have become a constant feature in
Palestinian life and have immeasurably complicated the lives of men, women and youth by
subjecting them to constant fear and humiliation as well as increasing travel time and
transportation expenses. OCHA, UNSCO, World Bank and Israeli NGO B?Tselem have
monitored the internal and external web of closures and restrictions imposed on Palestinians.
Their conclusions are telling; For 6 years now, Palestinians have been prohibited from accessing
50% of the West Bank land mass, which is taken up illegally by the occupation?s infrastructure;
and Palestinians are isolated in approximately 22 cantons within the 50% of West Bank
accessible to them, obstructed by hundreds of checkpoints and physical barriers, sliced and
zigzagged by more than 700 km of transport arteries for the exclusive use of illegal settlers; and
finally the continued severance of connection between the West Bank and Gaza remains a
significant hindrance to economic activity and development.
The IMF has recently stated that the persistence of restrictions on investment in approximately
60 percent of the West Bank?s territory, constrains the West Bank?s growth performance. It also
sites obstacles on movement and the increase in transportation costs as a major obstacle.
The IMF also concludes that the weak transport links with neighbouring countries, and the
absence of a seaport or airport within the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East
Jerusalem, in addition to the increased restrictions on the movement of goods and people,
culminating in the blockade on Gaza and completion of the illegal Wall, led to a decline in
exports to less than 15 percent of GDP in recent years.
And aside from their unmistakable impact on the economy and prospects of development,
Palestine?s unique occupation reality in relation to this sector has also significantly impacted the
quality of life for Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza. Access to medical services, education
facilities, and other vital services are all greatly restricted. This affects the most vulnerable
groups in society ? women, children, and the elderly ? the hardest. It also affects the ability of
families in isolated rural areas to sustain themselves as they have traditionally relied on selling
their agricultural products to nearby communities but these transportation restrictions have in
many cases made this activity economically unviable to them due to the high transportation cost.
These are daily realities Palestinians confront on a daily basis; on the policy and individual
levels. That is why today, we ask the CSD to ensure that peoples, like the Palestinian People, are
not abandoned to face these challenges alone and to take their unique situation into