At least 140 Palestinians and 20 Israelis have been killed in the latest flare-up of violence that began on Oct. 1. While the world’s attention is fixated on the crisis, Israel and the Palestinian Authority quietly signed a long-awaited agreement on Nov. 19, allowing Palestinian telecom companies to provide 3G mobile services in the occupied territories. It is unclear whether or how the intensified violence will affect this implementation, but Israel should urgently lift the many technological barriers that are still in place.
Information and Communication Technology (ICT) is an important tool for the social, economic and political development of the occupied territories. There are an estimated 250 Palestinian ICT operators and approximately 10,000 qualified ICT workers. And at least 1,000 Palestinian students graduate in ICT-related vocations each year. In 2012 the ICT sector accounted for 5.6 percent of the Palestinian Gross Domestic Product, helping drive some development despite the prolonged military occupation. But Israeli control and restrictions over the sector have limited its potential for the beleaguered Palestinian economy.