"Joe Walsh Claims West Bank Palestinians Enjoy More Freedom Than In Any Other Arab Country"
Appearing on the Christian Broadcasting Network’s 700 Club, Rep. Joe Walsh (R-IL) told Pat Robertson that Palestinians living under Israeli occupation in the West Bank enjoy a high standard of living. He said:
The Arabs living in that land right now under Israeli control have a better quality of life. They’re freer, more prosperous than in any other Arab country. It works. Israel works.
But Walsh’s statement is simply incorrect. According to the CIA World Fact Book, 46% of the population in the West Bank lived beneath the poverty line in 2007. That number is higher than any other Arab country in the CIA’s list.
While Walsh may claim that Palestinians in the West Bank are “freer” than in any other Arab country, numerous reports contradict that assertion. A World Bank report on “Movement and Access Restrictions in the West Bank” reads:
Currently, freedom of movement and access for Palestinians within the West Bank is the exception rather than the norm contrary to the commitments undertaken in a number of Agreements between GOI and the PA. In particular, both the Oslo Accords and the Road Map were based on the principle that normal Palestinian economic and social life would be unimpeded by restrictions. In economic terms, the restrictions arising from closure not only increase transaction costs, but create such a high level of uncertainty and inefficiency that the normal conduct of business becomes exceedingly difficult and stymies the growth and investment which is necessary to fuel economic revival.