According to the International Monetary Fund, growth will be negative again this year (-1.5 percent) compared to 6.2-percent growth in 2000, despite the start of the intifada in the last quarter of that year. This prime indicator of the economy's health immediately began sinking with the start of Sharon's peace and security era, to levels not seen here since the austerity years of the 1950s. In effect, since 1953 - until now - the state has never experienced negative growth. The standard of living dropped by 6 percent in 2001-2002.
The burden of blame for this is usually assigned to the Palestinians, who inexplicably refused to be meekly herded into Arab ghettos. But the actual blame falls on the settlers, who consume an enormous fraction of Israel's resources and who represent the most extreme ideological segment of Israeili society. The enormous network of bypass roads, the increased security requirements for isolated settlements, the massive subssidies to settlers to build their separate infrastructures, and of course the deliberate impediment to the peace process, all have taken a massive toll.
Eventually, the Israeili people will realize collectively who their worst enemies are and vote accordingly. But that wont happen soon, as long as Labour remains as mesmerized to Sharon as the Democrats are to Bush.