West Bank and Gaza

Canada's international development assistance in the West Bank and Gaza works to aid the Palestinians in building the foundations of a viable, democratic Palestinian state that will support people to live in peace and security with Israel. As one of Canada's foreign policy objectives, this goal supports a comprehensive, just and lasting peace negotiated directly between the parties.

Progress on development is influenced by challenges tied to the Israeli-Palestinian and internal Palestinian conflicts. As a result, and despite large aid flows, progress toward the Millennium Development Goals has been limited. With a population of 4.42 million, about a quarter, 26 percent, of Palestinians in West Bank and Gaza live in poverty, and about 13 percent endure extreme poverty.

The ability of families to put sufficient nutritious food on the table is a particular concern, demonstrated by the fact that 34 percent of Palestinian households are food insecure and another 16 percent are vulnerable to this predicament. Food insecurity is especially severe in Gaza where the majority of the population relies on humanitarian assistance. West Bank and Gaza ranks 110 out of 186 countries on the United Nations Development Programme's 2012 Human Development Index.

The political conflicts, combined with an underdeveloped legal and regulatory environment, have limited business investment with the result that too many Palestinian firms are unable to compete effectively in either local or foreign markets. Amid declining donor support, a faltering economy, high unemployment and a rapidly growing population, the Palestinian Authority faces a severe fiscal crisis.

Find out what Canada is doing to support development in West Bank and Gaza.

Thematic Focus

In 2014, West Bank and Gaza was confirmed as a program of focus for the Government of Canada's international development efforts.

Canada's development program in the West Bank and Gaza is aligned with Palestinian development plans, which outline the foundations for a future Palestinian state. International donors, including Canada, have been working to support institutional development and reform so that a future state that would result from direct negotiations with Israel will have the institutions needed to ensure accountable, effective and democratic government and a strong and competitive economy that can bring prosperity.

In line with these goals, Canada's development programming is focused on justice sector reform, promotion of sustainable economic growth based on a strong private sector, and the delivery of humanitarian assistance largely focused on food security.


Reform of the justice sector is Canada's primary development focus. Canada is the largest bilateral donor in the sector and works with all the principal Palestinian justice institutions. Canadian-supported development projects are helping to build the capacity of justice institutions to promote the rule of law and human rights, and to more effectively carry out their mandated responsibilities. In addition to justice reform activities, the Government of Canada, through DFATD and the Department of National Defence, supports security sector reform programs.

Canadian efforts to strengthen the rule of law are intended to create the stability and security needed to encourage investment, generate economic growth, and establish an atmosphere conducive to peace. Initiatives include:

  • Strengthening the prosecution services and the Office of the Attorney General
  • Building two courthouses and improving court administration
  • Improving the management of forensic services
  • Helping the Ministry of Justice meet its responsibilities in the areas of legislative drafting, strategic planning, and legal aid
  • Providing training to judges

Key anticipated results

  • Improved justice institutions applying the rule of law and upholding human rights

Economic growth

Canada works to stimulate sustainable economic growth by improving the business environment for small and mid-sized firms and by strengthening institutions in both the public and private sectors. A key project works to improve the services to business delivered by the Ministry of National Economy and the Federation of Chambers of Commerce. Canada's programs also work to strengthen the capacity of institutions that provide trade services to help Palestinian firms become more competitive and increase their access to foreign markets.

Key anticipated results

  • A more conducive environment for trade and business, including businesses owned by women

Humanitarian assistance and food security

Canada works to increase food security through its humanitarian assistance and by helping poor Palestinians affected by conflict to improve their ability to earn an income or produce sufficient food for their families.

Key anticipated results

  • Improved resilience of Palestinians to cope with the effects of the long-term conflict

Progress on Aid Effectiveness

The Palestinian Authority has taken ownership of the development process and adheres to the Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness (PDF, 320 KB, 23 pages). Regular consultation with the Palestinian Authority and other stakeholders ensures that programming remains aligned with Palestinian priorities.




  • Helped to improve the institutional effectiveness of the prosecution service, enabling it to handle 53 percent more cases in 2012 than it did in 2009
  • Provided in-depth training to prosecutors; more than half of judges surveyed in 2013 believed that prosecutors have a good knowledge of the law
  • Started construction on the Canadian-funded courthouse in the West Bank city of Tulkarem while site preparation for the courthouse in Hebron is complete
  • Helped the Palestinian Maintenance Fund collect alimony payments for 565 women and children in 2012, up from 436 in 2011, an increase of 30 percent.
  • Supported work on juvenile justice reform that saw the age of criminal responsibility raised from 9 years to 12 with an increase in penalties for crimes committed against minors

Economic growth

  • Helped the Palestinian Authority's Ministry of National Economy and the Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry to improve the business climate and improve service delivery to businesses
  • Supported the Ministry of National Economy in opening service offices across the West Bank, so that 43 percent of all services to businesses in 2012 were delivered from decentralized locations, compared to only 6 percent in 2011
  • Helped the Ministry of National Economy cut the average time it takes to deliver services to business down to two days in 2012 from 14 days in 2011
  • Supported the Palestinian Trade Centre or PalTrade—the private-sector organization responsible for trade promotion—in selecting those economic sectors where it will concentrate its export promotion activities

Humanitarian assistance and food security

  • Provided quarterly food distributions to an estimated 800,040 refugees in the West Bank and Gaza through the United Nations Relief and Works Agency
  • Contributed to the distribution of 49,000 metric tons of food commodities to more than 320,000 non-refugees in Gaza and 113,000 metric tons to more than 325,000 non-refugees in the West Bank through the World Food Programme
  • Distributed home garden units to 293 beneficiaries and helped 528 households increase the size of their sheep flocks through an artificial insemination program
  • Distributed 200 veterinary kits to households with livestock
  • Supported the vaccination of 40,000 cattle affected by foot-and-mouth disease

By working with Canadian and international partners, Canada is working to improve the health and rights of women and children globally, which includes the country of in West Bank and Gaza.

2014-2015 international assistance disbursements to West Bank and Gaza (in millions of dollars)

Global Affairs Canada28.72
Other departments and sources1.22