Suffering from decades of territorial conflict with Israel, the Palestinians continue to strive for formal statehood. The World Bank considers the Palestinian territories — one of the areas which host Palestinian refugees and receive exclusive assistance from the U.N. Relief and Works Agency — among the poorest regions across the Middle East and North Africa.
The Palestinian territories are crippled by economic restrictions on the movement of people and goods within and outside the borders. Palestinians’ access to natural resources, international trade and even basic utilities, such as water and electricity, are limited. In 2012, the U.N. Development Program recorded a 22.8 percent unemployment rate in the territories, which is expected to further increase as peace talks with Israel are stalled. While the Palestinian National Authority has been governing the area since 1994, the body performs only administrative functions.