A new survey has shown that the number of poor people in Israel has increased severely, while the Palestinian economy has collapsed, causing serious child malnutrition in the occupied territories. This report from David Chazan:
Two-thirds of Palestinians in the occupied territories live in poverty. But an increasing number of Israelis too are struggling to make ends meet as their country's economy declines.
A Bank of Israel survey has now shown that the number of families living below the poverty line in Israel tripled between 1988 and 2001. In the past three years, Israel's economy has been battered by the second intifada or Palestinian uprising. Tourism has taken a nose-dive. And the bursting of the high-tech bubble in the United States and other western countries in 2000 dealt a severe blow to Israel.
Opposition parties are increasingly criticising the government of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon for what they say is excessive spending on settlements in the occupied territories.