West Bank Arabs Need to Thank Israel

West Bank Arabs Need to Thank Israel

© David Burton 2015

Israel, Gaza and the West Bank

     Following the 1967 war, life in the Gaza Strip and in the West Bank took a decided turn for the better with Israel’s takeover of the territories from Egypt (the Gaza Strip) and Jordan (The West Bank).

     “In the years after the 1967 War, Israel invested heavily in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, building hospitals, universities, public schools and new roads, improving the water supply and increasing the production of electricity available to the Palestinians.
     “Israeli officials also instituted the ‘Open Bridges policy’ which . . . allowed the ‘free movement of people and goods back and forth across the Jordan River in order to avoid the disruption of previous trade relations and family and personal contacts.’ Israel also allowed Arabs from the West Bank and Gaza Strip to visit Israel proper. Additionally, Israel allowed Arabs from throughout the world to visit relatives in the territories, which . . . ‘quickly brought in over 100,000 visitors annually.’ Moreover, Arabs from the West Bank and the Gaza Strip were allowed to work in Israel ‘a step that initiated a revolution in the life of the areas and their inhabitants.’
     “Although this free movement didn't necessarily endear Israel to Palestinians and made it easier for the Arab world to support Palestinian terrorists, it did allow residents of the West Bank and Gaza strip to generate substantial economic growth. According to the World Bank, the real per capita Gross National Product (GNP) in the occupied territories more than doubled between 1970 and 1980, making it the fourth fastest growing economy in the world. [Emphasis mine] In 1993, the World Bank reported:
     “The economy of the [occupied territories] grew rapidly between 1968 and 1980 (average annual increase of 7% and 9 percent in real per capita GDP and GNP respectively), triggered by a number of factors, including the rapid integration with Israel and the regional economic boom. In the early years of the occupation, there was a sharp expansion in the employment of unskilled Palestinian labor in Israel and a rise in incomes, which in turn spurred domestic economic activity, especially in the construction sector. Earnings of Palestinian workers in Israel rose from negligible levels in 1968 to almost one quarter of GNP in 1975.
     “According to the World Bank, economic growth in the disputed territories continued even as Israel experienced an economic slowdown in the mid-1970s as many Palestinians were able to find work in other countries in the Middle East:
     “Since unskilled labor played a central role in the growth, the poor shared in this growth, and as a result, in all likelihood, there was a significant reduction in poverty in this period. Household conditions improved substantially, with a several-fold rise in the possession of consumer durables and significant increases in access to municipal water and electricity connections. Life expectancy increased by a decade, and there was significant progress in reducing infant mortality. School enrollments also rose during this time. These advances mirrored substantial improvements in income levels and in living conditions all through the region during the 1970s.” (Ref. 1)

     From 1967 till now, Arab residents of the West Bank have benefitted from Israel’s presence. The same was true for Arab residents of the Gaza Strip from 1967 through 2005 when Israel relinquished control to the Palestinians. Arabs in Gaza have suffered ever since. “During the 1970’s, the West Bank and Gaza constituted the fourth fastest-growing economy in the world — ahead of such “wonders” as Singapore, Hong Kong, and Korea, and substantially ahead of Israel itself . . .
      - - -
     “No less remarkable were advances in the Palestinians’ standard of living. By 1986, 92.8 percent of the population in the West Bank and Gaza had electricity around the clock, as compared to 20.5 percent in 1967; 85 percent had running water in dwellings, as compared to 16 percent in 1967 . . .
     “Finally, and perhaps most strikingly, during the two decades preceding the intifada of the late 1980’s, the number of schoolchildren in the territories grew by 102 percent, and the number of classes by 99 percent, though the population itself had grown by only 28 percent. Even more dramatic was the progress in higher education. At the time of the Israeli occupation of Gaza and the West Bank, not a single university existed in these territories. By the early 1990’s, there were seven such institutions, boasting some 16,500 students. Illiteracy rates dropped to 14 percent of adults over age 15, compared with 69 percent in Morocco, 61 percent in Egypt, 45 percent in Tunisia, and 44 percent in Syria.” (Ref. 2)

     But, as with most things in the Arb and Muslim world, there was more interest in murdering, destroying and terrorizing rather than enjoying the fruits of a mutually beneficial relationship. Self-destruction and martyrdom being the norm in the Arab world, the Arabs in Gaza and the West Bank embarked on attacks against the people and the country that had brought them environmental, social, cultural, and economic improvements that fellow Arabs in the mid-East could only envy. They instituted terrorist attacks against Israel and Israeli civilians – the Intifada. The Arabs in the two territories turned and bit the hand that was feeding them. At the same time, the quality of life in the two territories took a turn for the worse.

     “Economic decline followed the onset of the Intifada which began in December 1987. The Palestinian economy suffered another blow after the first Gulf War, which disrupted the economies of the Gulf Region, where many Palestinians found work. (Palestinian support for Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait resulted in many Palestinians being forced from that country after the war.)
     “Just as Palestinians living in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip enjoyed substantial increases in well-being under Israeli rule before the Intifada shattered economic relations between Israel and Palestinians, the increase in living standards for Palestinians in the 1990s was set back sharply as a result of the terror war launched against Israel in 2000.” (Ref. 1) Instead of thanking Israel for all the improvements that in their lives that had resulted from Israeli control, the peoples of the West Bank and Gaza either overtly turned on their benefactors or remained passive while extremist elements murdered Israelis and effectively degraded their quality of life.

     In an attempt to provide the Palestinians with what they claimed to be seeking, Israel turned over complete control of the Gaza Strip to the Arabs living there. The result? Rocket attacks on Israel and misery for Gaza. So far, Israel has not made the same mistake in the West Bank. While Israel has allowed the West Bank Arabs to govern themselves, security is shared between the West Bank and Israel.

     While the ignorant bleeding hearts of the world condemn Israel for continuing to maintain a security presence in the West Bank, the incontrovertible fact remains that Arabs living in the West Bank are still immeasurably safer and better off than those Arabs living under the brutal yoke of Hamas in the Gaza Strip. Political opponents of the governing regime in the West Bank are not murdered and hurled from roof tops as was done to opponents of Hamas in Gaza. The presence of the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) in the West Bank has prevented the launching of rockets into Israel, which, in Gaza, has resulted in death and destruction there when Israel retaliated in self-defense.

     True, Israeli check points are a major inconvenience, but that is a very small price to pay in comparison to the misery and destruction that has taken place in Gaza. Such inconveniences also pale when compared to the untold suffering endured by Arabs and others in Syria, Iraq and elsewhere where jihadist extremists are operating.

     Palestinians in the West Bank need only look at life in the Gaza Strip and then decide for themselves who is better off – they or their brethren in Gaza. “Daily life in Gaza is hell for the Palestinians, with poverty, enslavement, capital punishment and terror being the order of the day. The billions in western aid, rather than being spent on infrastructure and building a functioning economy, are spent on building tunnels and rockets. Horrifically, the best way to ‘get on’ in Gaza is to offer up your own children to Hamas as suicide bombers or human shields. (There is a luxury suburb especially reserved by Hamas as a gift for such doting parents.) The UN now admits Hamas exploit schools and children for military purposes.” (Ref. 3) If not for Israel, the same fate would befall the West Bank Palestinians under a Fatah/Hamas-led state.

     Iran and its puppet terrorist regime in Gaza want to turn the West Bank into another Gaza basket case. Israel has spared the West Bank Arabs from such a horror. Even Mahmoud Abbas - now in the 11th year of a 4-year term as West Bank president - needs to thank Israel for his remaining in power. “Thanks to Israel, {West Bank Arabs are} aware of Hamas's effort to topple the Palestinian Authority and replace it with an Islamist government.
     “Last month, Israel announced the arrest of more than 90 West Bank Hamas members who planned to stage a coup against Abbas and renew terror attacks against Israelis. Were it not for Israel's effort, Abbas and his top officials would have been either killed or imprisoned by Hamas.
    - - -
     “Abbas and the Palestinian Authority would not be able to survive for one day in the West Bank without the presence of the IDF . . ." (Ref. 4)

     There are several measures of how much better off West Bank Arabs are than Gaza Arabs. One of these measures is that of water in a region noted for scarcity of this resource. Let’s compare the water supply situation in the West Bank with that in the Gaza Strip. Because of Hamas’s financial malfeasance and mismanagement, residents in Gaza suffer from a shortage of water. Hamas’s terrorist activities have led to a cutoff or reduction of international financial aid which could have gone to improving Gaza’s water supply situation. The frequent rocket attacks on Israel from Gaza have resulted in Israeli retaliatory strikes against the launch sites, which have caused collateral damage to Gaza’s inadequate and poorly maintained water supply infrastructure.

     “In 2016, according to a report published after Operation Protective Edge, the coastal aquifer's groundwater {in Gaza} will become unfit for drinking due to salinity as a result of over-extraction. . .
     “. . . {On the other hand, in 2014 Israel} provided 57 million cubic meters of water to the Palestinians in the West Bank . . .
     “Note should be taken of the fact that} {t}he amount of water that Israel committed to transferring to the Palestinian Authority {in the West Bank} within the framework of a water agreement signed in Washington in 1995, as part of the Oslo Accords, was about 30 million cubic meters per year . . .
     “Over the years, the quantity of water supplied by {Israel to West Bank Arabs} increased far beyond the amount agreed upon . . . nearly twice the agreed-upon amount. [Emphasis mine]
     “The amount of water provided to the Palestinian Authority from Israel's national water system and its quality are among the highest in the world, in accordance with international standards. . . (Ref. 5)

     West Bank Arabs can thank Israel for having a water supply that is vastly superior in quality and quantity than that of Gaza Strip Arabs.

     What about the electrical power situation in Gaza and the West Bank? The situation is similar to that of water in the two areas. Because of Hamas financial malfeasance and mismanagement, residents in Gaza suffer from a shortage of electricity, directly attributable to Hamas’s terrorist activities. Frequent rocket attacks on Israel from Gaza have resulted in Israeli retaliatory strikes against the launch sites that have caused collateral damage to Gaza’s inadequate and poorly maintained electrical power generation and transmission infrastructure.

     In September 2015, “Palestinians in Gaza protested . . . over power shortages in the Strip, which has recently been suffering from outages of up to 20 hours at a time.
    - - -
     “Gaza residents have been enduring electricity shortages for years, but the situation intensified last week when power lines from Egypt went down, with the Egyptians citing ‘technical problems.’
     “There is also a shortage in the supply of fuel for the lone power station in Gaza, due to a dispute between the Palestinian Authority administration in the West Bank and Gaza rulers Hamas.
    - - -
     “The Gaza Strip currently only produces some 28 percent of the electricity it consumes. Out of 212 megawatts used by Gazans, 60 are produced in the territory, 120 are produced in Israel and 32 in Egypt.” (Ref. 6)

     While Israel provides electricity to the Gaza Strip and to the West Bank, it does not do so free of charge – the Palestinian Authority is responsible for reimbursing the Israel Electric Corporation for the electrical power it delivers. As usual, financial mismanagement if not outright and criminal misuse of funds collected plague the PA, Hamas and local communities in both Gaza and the West Bank.

     The financial problem came to a head in May of 2015 with “a yawning Palestinian power debt of $430 million that is at the core of the latest breakdown in relations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.
     “The system, in which an Israeli company provides electricity and Palestinian officials are supposed to guarantee payments from the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip, is a problem in itself but also emblematic of a broader dysfunction: the Palestinian Authority’s struggle to govern . . .
    - - -
     “More than two decades after the signing of the Oslo peace accords, which created the Palestinian Authority with the goal of building the backbone of an independent state, the Palestinians continue to rely on Israel for critical utilities, including more than 170 lines that power the West Bank. . .
    - - -
     “The World Bank estimated in November that Palestinians had failed to pay for 58 percent of the power they used in 2013, up from 37 percent in 2010.
     “About 40 percent of the power debt is from Gaza, where Hamas, the militant Islamist Palestinian political faction, has ruled since 2007. The World Bank says that Hamas collects payments from Gaza’s 1.8 million residents but refuses to hand the money over to the Palestinian Authority because of its rivalry with Mr. Abbas and his Fatah party. [Emphasis mine]
    - - -
     “Elsewhere in the West Bank, the Israel Electric Corporation sells power to Palestinian municipalities and distribution companies, but . . . Israel holds the Palestinian Authority broadly responsible for payment. The World Bank found that some municipalities collected customers’ payments but used them to offset general expenses rather than passing them on to the Israelis.” (Ref. 7)

     “Since the signing of the 1993 Oslo accord, real GDP per capita in the West Bank has increased considerably. From 1998-2011, these numbers grew from about $1,750 to about $2,000 according to the June 2012 U.S. congressional report U.S. Foreign Aid to the Palestinians. The report also notes that Gaza experienced a considerable rise in real GDP per capita from 2002-2005 before the Hamas takeover.” (Ref. 8) However, following Hamas’s Gaza takeover, GDP has dropped while unemployment there has skyrocketed.

     Besides water and electricity. West Bank residents have benefitted in other ways from an Israeli presence. “During 2011 and the first half of 2012, Israel closely collaborated with the PA to improve the Palestinian agriculture industry. This included projects to exterminate pests, improve soil quality, and increase international trade of Palestinian agricultural goods.” (Ref. 8)

     Most Arabs living under Palestinian Authority rule in the West Bank rarely see Israeli soldiers, and do not live under Israeli rule. Nearly all check points that previously existed inside the West Bank have been removed. Mostly, West Bank Arabs run their lives with little to no Israeli interference – except in instances of Palestinian terrorism.[9]

     But the fact remains that until a permanent agreement is reached, Israel is almost cetain to remain in charge of West Bank security. They have learned from their Gaza error. Without an Israeli security presence, there is the very real and imminent risk of Islamic terrorists taking control, as was the case with Hamas seizing control in Gaza following the Israeli withdrawal. A jihadist Islamic takeover in the West Bank would be disastrous not just for Israel, but also for the Arabs living there. The Israeli security presence may not be an ideal situation, but considering the rise of Islamic extremism elsewhere in the region, the West Bank Arabs are much better off and they should be thankful that Israeli troops are there keeping them relatively safe.[9]

     Academically, West Bank Arabs have benefitted greatly from the Israeli presence. In 1967 there was not even one academic institute in the West Bank. Since Israeli rule, and under its patronage, scores of institutions of higher-education have been established there. Contrast this with what was done academically for the West Bank Arabs under Jordanian rule from 1948 until 1967 – nothing!

     In terms of health, the same is true. Life expectancy among West Bank Arabs under Jordanian rule in 1967 was 48.6 years. Because of Israel, West Bank life expectancy has risen to 75 years.[10]

     The mortality rate among West Bank Arab babies is 15 to every 1,000 born, compared to 22 in Turkey and 39 throughout the world. In almost every humanitarian aspect that can be checked and measured, the West Bank Arabs under Israeli rule are better off than the world average, and, thanks to Israel, they nearly always rank at the top of the Middle East and North Africa countries block statistics relative to health.[10]

     Who is better off today – Gaza residents with Hamas in control or West Bank residents with PA in control and Israel providing security support? Hamas has wrought tremendous damage to Israel, but most of all to those Palestinians whom it governs and drags to war every few years. By refraining from outright war with Israel, the West Bank has so far avoided much of the misery of Gaza.

     Today, Gazans are, on average, worse off than in the 1990s. 21% are in deep poverty, living on less than $534 a month, compared with 7.8% in the West Bank.[11]

     The unemployment rate in the Gaza Strip approaches 50%, significantly higher than in the West Bank. Of particular concern is the high youth unemployment rate, which stands at more than 50% in Gaza.[11]

     Hamas’s use of financial resources to build tunnels into Israel and Egypt and to purchase/build weapons with which to attack Israel have created ongoing environmental and health problems in the Gaza Strip. “Salt from the sea has seeped into underground supplies raising salination levels above acceptable levels for drinking water. Only 5.5% of the piped water meets World Health Organisation (WHO) quality standards and some 340,000 people in the Strip were forced to consume drinking water of unacceptable quality in 2013, according to the UN.
     “Treatment of waste water and sewage is another headache. Gaza relies on waste water treatment plants that are either working beyond their capacity or were constructed as temporary installations for partial treatment. As a result, about 90 million litres of untreated or partially treated sewage is pumped into the Mediterranean Sea every day, creating pollution, public health hazard and problems for the fishing industry.” (Ref. 11)

     While the corrupt Palestinian Authority in the West Bank has misused financial assistance from the E.U., the U.S. and other countries that should have gone to infrastructure improvements, West bank citizens are still in much better condition than those in Gaza, in part, thanks to Israeli efforts. They are definitely much better off than they were before Israel took over control in 1967.

     Arabs living in the West Bank should be thanking Israel every day for their relative tranquility and quality of life compared to their brethren in places like Gaza, Syria, Iraq and elsewhere. One can but wonder how much better off they would be if they had reached an accommodation with Israel and had worked cooperatively with Israel. A 2015 study conducted by the RAND Corporation found that if the Palestinians and Israel were at peace, the Palestinians would gain $50 billion within a decade![12]

     Gaza, which is almost totally dependent on foreign aid, even in the best of times, is nothing but a place of jihadist oppression, war, makeshift jobs, handouts and smuggled goods, while the West Bank enjoys some measure of renewed economic growth and an emerging sense of possibility,

     West Bank Arabs should be thanking Israel for what they have compared to their Arab comrades in the Gaza Strip.


  1. Long Term Effects, sixdaywar.org, Accessed 26 December 2015.
  2. Conflicts and Resolutions, tayaravaknin.wordpress.com/2015/08/06/myth-israel-caused-terrorism/,
    6 August 2015.
  3. Useful Idiots, The Spectator, 2 May 2015.
  4. Hamas: Give Us West Bank So We Can Destroy Israel, Khaled Abu Toameh, Gatestone Institute,
    7 September 2014.
  5. Israel doubles water supplies to Gaza, Ilana Curiel, ynetnews.com, 6 May 2015.
  6. Gazans protest over lengthy power cuts, Avi Issacharoff and Times of Israel staff, The Times of Israel,
    15 September 2015.
  7. Palestinians’ Unpaid Electric Bills in the West Bank Thicken Tension With Israel, Diaa Hadid,
    The New York Times, 5 May 2015.
  8. Israel's Support of the Palestinian Economy, Leadership Action Network, aish.com, 10 November 2012.
  9. Lies and Truth - Part 2, Dror Ben Yemini, Haifa Diary, 28 September 2015.
  10. BDS: The lies and the truth – part 3 , Dror Ben Yemini, Haifa Diary, Accessed 24 December 2015.
  11. Life in the Gaza Strip, BBC News Mideast, 14 July 2014.
  12. How Peace Can Bring Prosperity for Both Israel and Palestine, Sydney Barakat, theantimedia.org,
    25 June 2015.


  28 December 2015 {Article 244; Israel_24}    
Go back to the top of the page