IMF Urges Israel to Lay Off Weakening Palestinian Economy

Sustained international support also necessary to counter alarming rise in unemployment, especially among youth, says mission chief.

Two Palestinian vendors in front of their tobacco shop, in Bethlehem's Dheisheh refugee camp, May 20, 2014. AP

The International Monetary Fund is urging Israel to lift restrictions on the West Bank and Gaza because the Palestinian economy is weakening, AFP reported Thursday.

Christoph Duenwald, the IMF mission chief for the West Bank and Gaza, pointed in a statement to rising unemployment, particularly among youth, which stands at 43 percent, as a worrying trend. He argued that sustained donor support combined with Israel easing restrictions comprehensively were needed to "underpin the Palestinian reform efforts," according to AFP.

Duenwald, who is based in Washington, D.C., said that the international community needed to "step up to help fill a 'sizeable' financing gap this year" for the Palestinian Authority. He also praised the PA for "'doing a commendable job' managing the economy in difficult circumstances."

The IMF forecasts the economy in the West Bank and Gaza growing 2.5 percent in 2014, a slight improvement over 2013's growth rate of 1.5 percent.