The World Bank Wednesday announced the launch of a new trust fund to encourage investors to increase investment in the West Bank and Gaza.
The fund is co-sponsored by the European Investment Bank, the Government of Japan, and the Palestinian Authority, and will be administered by the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA), the political risk insurance arm of the World Bank.
Merza Hasan, World Bank's executive director for the Middle East, is heading a World Bank delegation to the launch. The delegation also includes James Bond, acting executive vice president and chief operating officer of MIGA, and Daniela Gressani, the Bank's regional vice president for the Middle East and North Africa region.
"Encouraging greater integration of Arab countries with the global economy -- critical for creating jobs and opportunities for the people of the region -- is an important initiative of the World Bank Group," said Merza Hassan in a statement.
"The Bank's work in West Bank and Gaza is consistent with its Arab World Initiative and aims to support economic recovery and development as an underpinning to the peace process in the Palestinian Territories," he said.
During the first quarter of 2008, unemployment in the West Bank rose from 17.7 percent in 2007 to 19 percent, while unemployment in Gaza increased slightly from 29.7 percent to 29.8 percent, according to the World Bank.