World Bank: Israeli Restrictions Cost Palestinian Mobile Phone Sector $1 Billion

New report says restrictions prevent the import of telecom equipment for Palestinian companies and prevent a second Palestinian mobile phone company in the West Bank from operating in Gaza.

A Palestinian driver shows the “Azmeh” application on his mobile phone while waiting in traffic at Qalandia checkpoint, November 10, 2015.
AP

The World Bank says the Palestinian mobile phone sector lost more than $1 billion in potential earnings over the last three years, largely due to Israeli restrictions.

Its report Thursday said over 20 percent of West Bank customers use Israeli providers because they offer high-speed internet capabilities. In 2015, Israel agreed to permit a 3G broadband network in the West Bank, but this is not yet available to customers with Palestinian companies.

Israeli restrictions prevent the import of telecom equipment for Palestinian companies, the report says, and prevent a second Palestinian mobile phone company in the West Bank from operating in Gaza, a territory controlled by the militant group Hamas.

The report says the Palestinian government has not established a regulatory authority, leading to high pricing and market dominance.