Is the World Bank deliberately concealing disappointing West Bank economic "growth" figures?

An August 31 press release from the World Bank states:

The Palestinian Authority (PA) has achieved strong results in recent years, but the resurgence of growth remains dependent on donor assistance.

  • in the first half of 2010, the economy saw 7% real growth;
  • in the West Bank, unemployment in the fourth quarter of 2009 fell to 18% from 20% in the same quarter of 2008;
  • unemployment in Gaza also dropped, falling from 45% in the fourth quarter of 2008 to 39% in the last quarter of 2009;
  • the PA has unified its cash transfer programs into one consolidated program that has greatly increased the efficiency of the PA's social safety system and is one of the most advanced in the region;
  • the PA has improved its budgeting process, budget execution and financial reporting capacity; and introduced commitment controls to reduce spending.

What is very interesting is that the press release provides no breakdown for growth in the West Bank separate from the Gaza Strip. What we have instead apparently is a 7% overall growth figure.

In June a highly informed source who has since been proven correct on a number of other issues told me:

World Bank figures due to be published in coming weeks are likely to show that economic growth in the Gaza Strip in the first quarter of 2010 has exceeded that in the West Bank. While virtually all economic growth in the West Bank is a result of foreign aid, much of the growth in Gaza is attributable to a "parallel economy" that has emerged thanks to the tunnels. This has even created a small new class of nouveaux riches in Gaza.

At the time the source told me that what we'd probably see as a result is the World Bank and PA emphasizing the overall growth figure, rather than dwelling on disappointing results in the West Bank -- where a huge politically-motivated aid effort has been aimed at shoring up the Israeli-backed collaborator regime of Mahmoud Abbas and illegally-appointed "prime minister" Salam Fayyad.

Could this be what is happening here? Perhaps the World Bank has provided a West Bank/Gaza breakdown somewhere else? (I haven't had time to conduct a thorough search yet, but a quick search didn't reveal it). But I do think its significant there is no breakdown in the press release. It's a safe assumption that if there had been stellar performance in the West Bank, the World Bank would have emphasized it.

The whole narrative of "Fayyadist" state building depends on the notion that the West Bank economy is booming. There are claims, for example, of a "property boom" in Ramallah, which as I explained tells us nothing about the true state of the West Bank economy.

Indeed a recent Save the Children study found that outside the Ramallah bubble, poverty conditions across much of the West Bank are even worse than in Gaza. My recent Los Angeles times op-ed references that and debunks more "Fayyadist" myths.