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Unwilling to Change, Determined to Fail: Donor Aid in Occupied Palestine in the aftermath of the Arab Uprisings

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Since 1993 the international community has invested more than $24 billion in ‘peace and development’ in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt). That aid was meant originally to support the Oslo Peace Process through economic development. However, neither peace nor development has been realized, and both seem increasingly unlikely. While examining donor operations, priorities and the ‘aid-for-peace’ agenda, this article investigates whether patterns in oPt donor aid have changed following the Arab uprisings of 2011. Building on 28 original interviews with Palestine aid actors, it was found that patterns remain unchanged and that donors remain transfixed on a long failed ‘Investment in Peace’ framework that was designed for economic development by the World Bank back in 1993. By comparing these research findings with the literature on aid to Palestine, this article argues that donors are not ready to alter a framework dominated by policy instrumentalists who emphasize pre-determined normative values over actual results, quietly trading financial inducements to Palestinians to forgo political rights within a ‘peace dividends’ model. Meanwhile, critics of the existing aid framework remain largely ignored and have little influence on aid policy, in spite of two decades of instrumentalist failure to produce peace or economic growth using the existing model.
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Unwilling to Change, Determined
to Fail: Donor Aid in Occupied
Palestine in the aftermath of the
Arab Uprisings
Jeremy Wildemana & Alaa Tartirb
a University of Exeter, Exeter, EX4 4QJ, United
b The London School of Economics and Political
Science (LSE), London WC2A 2AE, United Kingdom
Published online: 20 Nov 2014.
To cite this article: Jeremy Wildeman & Alaa Tartir (2014) Unwilling to Change,
Determined to Fail: Donor Aid in Occupied Palestine in the aftermath of the Arab
Uprisings, Mediterranean Politics, 19:3, 431-449, DOI: 10.1080/13629395.2014.967014
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Unwilling to Change, Determined to
Fail: Donor Aid in Occupied Palestine
in the aftermath of the Arab Uprisings
*University of Exeter, Exeter, EX4 4QJ, United Kingdom, **The London School of Economics and
Political Science (LSE), London WC2A 2AE, United Kingdom
ABSTRACT Since 1993 the international community has invested more than $24 billion in
‘peace and development’ in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt). That aid was meant
originally to support the Oslo Peace Process through economic development. However, neither
peace nor development has been realized, and both seem increasingly unlikely. While examining
donor operations, priorities and the ‘aid-for-peace’ agenda, this article investigates whether
patterns in oPt donor aid have changed following the Arab uprisings of 2011. Building on 28
original interviews with Palestine aid actors, it was found that patterns remain unchanged and
that donorsremain transfixed on a long failed‘Investment in Peace’framework that was designed
for economicdevelopment by the World Bank back in 1993. By comparing these research findings
with the literature on aid to Palestine, this article argues that donors are not ready to alter a
framework dominated by policy instrumentalists who emphasize pre-determined normative
values over actual results, quietly trading financial inducements to Palestinians to forgo political
rights within a ‘peace dividends’model. Meanwhile, critics of the existing aid framework remain
largely ignored and have little influence on aid policy, in spite of two decades of instrumentalist
failure to produce peace or economic growth using the existing model.
Introduction and Contextual Background
The year 2011 saw protests in nearly all the Arab countries. By comparison with its
neighbours, the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt) witnessed fewer protests and
less general turmoil. Those protests that did take place were on a smaller scale when
compared to those in countries like Egypt, Tunisia and Bahrain. Yet the Palestinian
protests uniquely targeted international donors and foreign aid, a specificity which
alone justifies including an article on Palestine. Since the envelope of aid disbursed
in the oPt is vast, and bearing in mind the importance of both military and civilian
aid to states in the region, it is worth assessing what link exists between the Arab
uprisings and donor aid in Palestine. This is particularly poignant considering the
long-standing importance of the Palestinian question on politics in the Middle East.
q2014 Taylor & Francis
Mediterranean Politics, 2014
Vol. 19, No. 3, 431–449,
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The goal of this article is to determine whether or not there was a change in the
way aid was disbursed by donors in the international community to Palestinians in
the oPt following the Arab Uprisings of 2011. This research was compiled prior to
the devastation unleashed upon Gaza by Israel in the summer of 2014. The research
was conducted bearing in mind International Monetary Fund (IMF) estimates
indicating a sizeable drop in development and budget support to Palestinians in the
oPt between 2010 and 2013 as compared to 2006 to 2009. Between those periods
funding went from an average annual allotment of $1.5 – 2 billion down to $1.1– 1.3
billion respectively (IMF, 2013a). However, beyond this quantitative shift
downward, overall funding remained significant while there are qualitative
indicators of consistency with past patterns in the way aid was structured. For
example, the IMF has estimated that prior to 2001 roughly one-third of aid was
disbursed as budget support to the Palestinian Authority (PA), while after 2007 more
than 80 per cent was allocated to budget support on an annual basis, in spite of an
overall drop in funding after 2009 (IMF, 2013b). This structural consistency seems
to indicate an entrenchment of existing patterns rather than change. In order to find
out whether or not change to the oPt aid regime took place, we approached 44
experts working in or conducting research on Palestinian aid. We classified each
interviewee into one of two types of aid actor, based on two different development
aid viewpoints outlined in David Mosse’s ethnography of aid policy and practice
Cultivating Development (Mosse, 2005): critics and instrumentalists.
The international community has used foreign aid to fund development in the
West Bank and Gaza for decades. Following the 1993 Oslo Accord, this was done in
order to encourage Palestinians to ‘buy into’ a peace plan with the state of Israel.
Poor results though have sparked a profound debate over the very nature of aid,
whose antecedents can be placed on the normative fault line that exists between
critics and instrumentalists in development aid literature. Critics, on one hand,
consider development policy to be a rationalizing technical discourse that conceals a
hidden bureaucratic power, or dominance. That power is sustained by unspoken and
unwritten intent that constitutes a hidden reality, and that is the true reason
development aid is given and most likely does not work in the recipient’s best
interests. As such, critics argue that aid is not simply policy to be implemented, but
domination to be resisted (Mosse, 2005). By contrast, policy instrumentalists are
persistently optimistic about the power of policy design as a rational problem-
solving exercise to remedy real world problems (Mosse, 2005). For the oPt, aid
instrumentalists have dominated the way funding is disbursed: first, researchers and
policy analysts designing models for how Palestinian aid should be given at
institutions such as the IMF and World Bank; and then aid workers within the major
donor organizations, including the World Bank itself.
The relationship between aid and development is particularly problematic in the
Palestinian context. Since the aim of the international community was to foster
economic development in the oPt in order to stimulate the peace process (Keating
et al., 2005), there is fairly broad agreement among researchers that aid has failed
(Roy, 1999; BISAN, 2011; Nakhleh, 2004,2011; Khalidi & Taghdisi-Rad, 2009;
Khalidi & Samour, 2011; Tartir & Wildeman, 2012; Barghouti, 2012). The post-
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Oslo ‘peace process’ has been characterized by economic decline, large increases in
unemployment, intense violence and a moribund peace process. Israeli settlement
building and the confiscation of Palestinian land accelerated after Oslo, along with
closure policies that restrict Palestinians from working in Israel or moving freely in
the oPt. This policy of closure contravened the spirit of the peace process, and took
place almost immediately after it began (Halper, 2008; OCHA, 2013; UNDP, 2010).
It is a primary reason for the sharp decline of the Palestinian economy, owing to the
subsequent loss of remittances from Palestinian workers in Israel and the inability of
Palestinians to move freely to engage in commerce at home, in Israel or abroad.
Simultaneous Israeli settlement building undid Palestinian territorial contiguity,
which became further fragmented into separate communities governed by Hamas in
Gaza and a donor-backed PA in the West Bank. As a result of these processes
Palestinians have developed a deep-seated dependency on foreign aid to sustain the
economy of their isolated enclaves, which are contained by and dependent on Israel
for all commercial transactions (Hever, 2010).
International aid disbursements to Palestinians are therefore high and one
calculation put total aid given at around US$24.6 billion between 1993 and 2012.
Aid inflows increased from an annual average of US$656 million between 1993 and
2003, to over US$1.9 billion since 2004; and international aid increased by 17 times
overall between 1993 and 2009. To illustrate the intensity of aid dependency that
characterizes the oPt at this time, from 2004 onward aid was equal to between 24 per
cent and 42 per cent of GDP. Per capita aid for the same period averaged around
$530 per year, ranging from a low of US$ 306 in 2005 up to US$ 761 in 2009 and to
$US 498 in 2012 (OECD, 2014). Figures 1 and 2show the total amount of aid to
Palestinians over the last two decades and its percentage of the West Bank and
Gaza’s Gross National Income (GNI).
Yet in spite of the sheer volume of aid which has poured into the Palestinian
economy, ordinary Palestinians still lack basic economic rights and, crucially,
personal security from violence (Tartir, 2012a). Socio-economic indicators provide
an impression of failure by aid to at least improve the economic and living
Figure 1. Total international aid to Palestinians 1993 12.
Source: as compiled by the authors based on OECD/DAC aid database in 2014 (OECD-
DAC, 2014).
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circumstances of ordinary Palestinians. The neoliberal economic model enforced
with vigour by a donor-backed Fayyad government from 2007 to 2013 was fuelled
by aid, but also by personal and government debt, and drove up the cost of living for
Palestinians in an economy that had already shrunk and de-developed during the
peace process. Using a consumption-based definition of poverty, 26.2 per cent of
Palestinians lived in poverty in 2009 and 2010: 19 per cent in the West Bank and 38
per cent in Gaza. By using an income-based definition of poverty, the reality can be
understood to be much worse, with 50 per cent of Palestinians living in poverty in
2009 and 2010: 38 per cent in the West Bank and 70 per cent in Gaza (MAS, 2012).
According to the World Food Programme (WFP, 2011), 50 per cent of Palestinian
households suffered from food insecurity: 33 per cent being food insecure and 17 per
cent vulnerable to food insecurity.
Conservative figures estimate that unemployment has remained stuck at around
30 per cent since 2009, with 47 per cent unemployed in Gaza in 2010 and 20 per cent
in the West Bank. A 2014 report on labour rights listed the oPt as one of the eight
worst countries to work in alongside countries like Somalia and the Central African
Republic, and below countries infamous for poor working conditions like
Bangladesh, China and the United Arab Emirates (ITUC, 2014). The income and
opportunities inequality gap continues to widen not only between the West Bank and
Gaza, but also within the West Bank. Manufacturing and production capacities
continue to erode, as had long been predicted under Sara Roy’s mid-1990s theory of
‘De-development’ (Roy, 1995), while the vital agriculture sector remains sorely
neglected. Public debt has doubled, while private debts for Palestinians have
ballooned because of easier access to credit – itself a type of ‘market of
dispossession’ (Elyachar, 2005; Hanieh, 2013). Real income per capita is in need of
a proper deconstruction to take account of an unbearable increase in the cost of
living and consumer price index (PCBS, 2013). At the macro-economic level,
vaunted economic growth of 7.1 per cent in 2008, 7.4 per cent in 2009 and 9.3 per
cent in 2010,12.2 per cent in 2011, 5.9 per cent in 2012 and 4.5 per cent in 2013
(IMF, 2013b) was a jobless growth, aid driven, with an eroded productive base
Figure 2. Aid as percentage of the West Bank and Gaza’s GNI 199412.
Source: as compiled by the authors based on OECD/DAC aid database in 2014 (OECD-
DAC, 2014).
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(de-industrialized), which is non-Jerusalemite, anti-poor and reflects an economy
recovering from a low base (Bahour, 2011; UNCTAD, 2011; Khalidi, 2011; Tartir,
2012b). The World Bank admitted in its September 2014 report to the Ad Hoc
Liaison Committee (AHLC) meeting in New York that ‘growth in the Palestinian
territories, already decelerating since 2012 slowed down further to less than 2 per
cent in 2013; and the economy entered into recession in 2014’ (World Bank, 2014).
This is an aid-driven economy just surviving under occupation. Aid-induced
inflation, personal debt and rising costs of living have now been linked to the stalled
peace process they were supposed to support – a process that has seen life for
Palestinians get steadily worse along with an erosion of their claim to a sovereign
territory (Khalidi, 2012). That aid is guided by a 1993 World Bank development
plan, An Investment in Peace (World Bank, 1993), which informs major bilateral
donors on how to disburse their aid to Palestinians. The instrumentalist approach
adopted by the Bank and major donors is highly bureaucratic (Challand, 2008) and
has been the visibly dominant aid viewpoint throughout the Oslo peace process.
As implied by the name of the plan, it was developed for Palestinians in order to
improve their standard of living and encourage them to participate in the peace
process, producing ‘peace dividends’ (Le More, 2010). Similar to other programmes
developed by International Financial Institutions (IFIs) for the developing world in
the 1990s (Hickel, 2012), it aims to build institutions (in fact an entire Palestinian
state) on a ‘good governance’ model to ‘prepare’ Palestinians for statehood. The
core normative values behind that plan include open markets, economic integration
with Israel, regional economic integration, financial liberalization, ‘good
governance’ and support for ‘democracy’ (Khan et al., 2004; Hanieh, 2011).
Within this economically neoliberal framework some key aims include:
encouraging closer economic integration between the oPt and Israel; establishing
a semi-autonomous Palestinian regional government based on principles of good
governance; for that government to police Palestinians in lieu of the Israeli military;
and for the economy to open up to international trade and investment (Taghdisi-Rad,
2010). An early success for these instrumentalists was the 1994 Paris Protocol, an
annex to the Oslo Accords. The Protocol created a customs envelope for Israel and
the oPt, meaning that all foreign aid donated to the Palestinians was required to pass
through Israeli customs, which allows the Israeli government to take tariffs from that
aid. The agreement stipulated that Palestinian workers be allowed to enter Israel to
seek employment, yet Israel never fulfilled that part of the agreement, instead
imposing blanket closures on the pretext of security (Farsakh, 2002) and preventing
Palestinians from getting to their jobs in Israel, stimulating further aid dependency
(Hever, 2008,2010). An Israeli negotiator involved in designing the protocol noted:
‘the Paris Protocol basically legalized the forced marriage of the two economies
since 1967’ (Kleiman, 2013).
While the good governance project failed to deliver the desired outcomes, the
World Bank and other instrumentalists continued to argue that the fundamentals of
the programme were sound. Instead they preferred to blame ‘exogenous’ factors,
complicating political events such as violence during the Second Intifada or the PA
for not implementing policy well enough,
thereby placing disproportionate blame
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on a nominally autonomous PA for not achieving results (Brynen, 2000).
Yet blaming politics ignores a well-established understanding that aid becomes a
political factor in any conflict situation it is exposed to (Anderson, 1999). Critics will
also point out that the PA is an institution of the donors’ creation, and that the Israeli
and oPt economies had already been deeply intertwined through decades of
occupation before Oslo, all facts which pose ‘a serious challenge to [donors’]
uniform analytical frameworks and rigid assumptions’ (Taghdisi-Rad, 2010). Critics
argue that the fundamentals behind the World Bank model are wrong, such as mis-
categorizing Israel Palestine as a post-conflict situation, even though it never left
the conflict stage. They also charge that the major donors and IFIs are sanitizing and
muting their criticism of Israel (CDS-BZU, 2011). By contrast with instrumentalists,
the critics are certain that Israeli settler-colonialism in the oPt is the fundamental
problem which needs to be addressed before peace or development can take place.
Research Interviews
This article takes into consideration what change has taken place in the way donors
work in the oPt following 2011 and whether there are any links between the protest
movements that did take place in the oPt post-2011 and protests elsewhere in the
Arab world. It does this by providing an analysis of original interviews conducted in
May, June and July of 2013 with oPt donors and aid observers to learn from them
how aid has changed, or how it has not. It does not explore donor reactions to the
further destruction of Gaza in the summer of 2014, which will precipitate a new
donor package.
In order to determine whether or not there was a link between Palestinian protests
and the Arab uprisings, or if there had been any change to the way in which foreign
aid was disbursed as a result of it, we approached 44 experts working directly in the
aid industry or studying it. Some were international donors or aid experts, while
others included Palestinians working for local or international non-governmental
organizations (NGOs). Those that responded represented International Financial
Institutions, government aid agencies, International Governmental Organizations
(IGOs), International Non-governmental Organizations (INGOs), as well as
researchers associated with policy units that helped design aid packages or
economic plans like the Paris Protocol. Meanwhile we found non-donor experts
represented the critical view of how aid is disbursed. They include IGOs, Palestinian
Non-governmental Organizations (PNGOs), the Palestinian private sector,
representatives of the Palestinian youth movement and researchers working on
foreign aid associated with a university or policy unit.
All interviews were kept anonymous in order to protect the identity of
interviewees. Interviews were semi-structured and completed in English or Arabic
via Skype, telephone, face-to-face or by email. Of our requests, 22 were made to
donors and we received just eight responses. Several major donors did not respond to
our request, while two felt they were not well suited to provide an opinion. Of those
donors who accepted our request for an interview, two represented an IFI, one an
IGO, two a government aid agency, two INGO donors and finally one researcher.
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Meanwhile, a total of 22 requests were made to non-donors, of which 20 provided
feedback, one refused to participate due to a theoretical disagreement over the
research question and only a PA Ministry did not reply. Of the respondents, two
represented an IGO, five a PNGO, one the Palestinian private sector, two the youth
movement and ten researchers.
We found that the donors who interviewed with us nearly all took an
instrumentalist approach to aid, either as a funding agent or as an aid policy
designer. At the opposite end, the answers we received from the non-donors fell into
what Mosse (2005) described as the ‘critics’. Since there happened to be a neat
overlap of the donors (as instrumentalists) away from the non-donors (as critics), we
decided that the overall identifier Instrumentalist Critic was a useful shortcut to
locate the type of responses given on the impact of the Arab uprisings. Since the
material gathered has been kept anonymous, we will list respondents with the letter
‘C’ for Critic and ‘I’ for Instrumentalist, followed by an identifying number, and a
generic description of the type of interviewee (I, PNGO, donor, etc.).
The interview guide for each differed slightly, with two general questions asked to
all interviewees.
For donors, the interview guide consisted of two specific questions:
1. How have your operations or priorities changed since the start of the
Arab Spring of 2011?
2. Have you seen a difference in how Palestinian partners work with
you since the start of the Arab Spring? In what way is it different?
For non-donors, these two questions were adapted as follows:
1. How have the operations and priorities of donors changed since the
Arab Spring of 2011?
2. Have you seen a change in the way international donors work with
Palestinian organizations since the start of the Arab Spring? In what
way has this changed?
To both groups, we asked the final two identical questions:
1. Do you believe there is a link between recent protests against the
Palestinian Authority (PA) and aid donors, with the Arab Spring?
2. What is the key for effective aid in the oPt after the Arab Spring?
Protesting Aid: A Link to the Arab Uprisings?
Palestinian attitudes toward aid may have soured. Growing anger toward
international aid agencies has moved beyond elite circles to the street level, with
protests targeting not only United States Agency for International Development
(USAID) but also aid given by sectors of the EU delegation and the International
Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).
In June 2013 Palestinian youth called for
mass protests against the Paris Protocol in Ramallah (‘Mass March, 2012). So to
start we wanted to determine if there were any links between these protests and the
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Arab uprisings, before seeing if the uprisings impacted on the way aid is given in the
oPt. We found that interviewees gave conflicting accounts for why they think the
protests took place, and disagreed as to whether or to what degree there was a link to
the Arab uprisings.
Many interviewees, particularly donors, felt there was no link or at most a tenuous
link between the aid-related Palestinian protests and the Arab uprisings. Often they
felt the Palestinian case was unique and that the protests reflected pre-existing
realities. One instrumentalist (I10 – Researcher) said: ‘No, I don’t see any
connection at all between the protests which have occurred in oPt and the Arab
Spring. Palestinian protests pre-existed the Arab Spring and have their own causes
and dynamics’. An Instrumentalist (I9 INGO) postulated that:
There could be a link, especially because the Arab Spring empowered people
and made them believe they have influence. Nonetheless ... because our
situation is unique to other Arab countries, and because our preoccupation is
the Israeli occupation, people are more tolerant of the [PA] leadership but
nevertheless critical and sceptical of the leadership.
A number of interviewees suggested that there could be several different pre-
existing points of origin for the protests, related to the economy and occupation, but
not the Arab uprisings. One critic (C7 PNGO) provided three different reasons: the
high cost of living, protests about unpaid salaries and protests against the existence of
the PA itself. C7 went on argue that that donor aid, which the IMF has characterized
as budgetary support for the PA, is used for political reasons to keep the donor-
backed PA in existence for fear Hamas might gain power and confront Israel:
Israel has shown that it considers the PA’s existence, if not its flourishing, to
be in its own national interest. ... Western diplomats and many Palestinians
believe that, for the foreseeable future, enough money will continue to flow to
keep the PA alive, and President Abbas will stick around and do what he can to
delay much-feared steps toward confrontation with Israel.
Another critic (C6 Youth Movement) also noted a connection between the
protests and the role of the PA in the occupation:
Donor aid to the PA has started 20 years ago with Oslo, and the wave of protests
in some Arab countries gave a push forward and encouraged the Palestinians to
come to the streets against the PA which has increasingly been considered an
arm of the Israeli occupation. However we should not be so optimistic about the
link between all of them because the Arab Spring has turned to something not
really related to any spring. Donor aid to the PA, especially to the enlarged
security forces is definitely one of the reasons for the protests.
Economic reasons were often given as the basis for the protests. A prominent
government aid instrumentalist (I1 – Government Aid Agency) supported the idea
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that economics and politics may both have played a role, related to the
aforementioned reduction in overall funding to the PA from 2010 to 2013:
Protests against the PA have largely been against the backdrop of the crisis in
the PA’s finances. The Government of Israel’s withholding of clearance
revenues was a major factor. The decline in donor funding has been another
factor, at a time of domestic economic difficulties in donor countries, and
increasing calls on donor funds in the region linked to the Syria crisis and
other events in the region. So you could say there was some indirect link [to
the Arab uprisings]. But the wider backdrop remains frustrations over the lack
of political progress in the peace process.
Referring to the different points of origin for the oPt protests, one instrumentalist
(I9 INGO) felt the Palestinian protests focused on limited issues that do not really
challenge the central political problem, the occupation:
PA finances and hunger-striking prisoners were the issues that galvanized
large protests [which] illustrates the timidity and limited horizons of
Palestinian politics. While both are vital for individuals and in national life,
there are reasons political activity crystallized around them. They excite little
dissent or rancour (beyond that directed at Fayyad).
That donor went on to suggest that secondary issues have traction precisely
because it is only there that the major Palestinian factions allow mobilization to
make ordinary Palestinians feel empowered to demand change, but that once
protests threaten to exceed the boundaries the leadership set, they get reined back in:
‘Those are tactical actions with limited goals, not bids for a strategic readjustment
internally or vis-a
`-vis Israel’. One Critic (C3 Private Sector) provided a similar
I actually think the recent protests against the PA have more to do with internal
politics, namely Fatah trying to topple the Fayyad government in order to take
his place in the West Bank. There is nothing here to do with better managing
of donor aid and interventions, but more like how to get more of the pie, or
should I say crumbs.
The possibility of government-backed protests contrasts sharply with the initial
anti-government protests of the Arab uprisings.
The protests may have been petering out by mid-2013, with one critic (C7 PNGO)
validating the possibility that they are limited in nature while suggesting that, in
addition to not challenging the occupation, they do not challenge the main economic
problems. C7 felt that the youth movement may have been energized by the Arab
uprisings and acknowledged upsurges in protest. However, C7 notes that those protests
were intermittent, not unified, and believed that there is a great deal of complacency
over economic issues. C7 surmises that: ‘The Arab Spring seems to have shown how
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entrenched the neo-liberal economic development agenda of Israel/PA has truly
become’. Another Critic (C13 – Researcher) felt that while the Arab uprisings made
the general population realize that they can do things and demonstrate, people in
Palestine have seen many times that different forms of protests against Israel, or
settlements, or the PA, has not changed much. For this reason C13 does not know if it
is possible to link the protests to the Arab uprisings.
Although we conducted semi-structured interviews that do not require ‘yes’ or
‘no’ answers to specific questions, many interviewees offered direct answers. Of the
instrumentalists and critics interviewed, the 11 that felt there was no link between
the Palestinian protests and Arab uprisings comprised three instrumentalists and
eight critics. The nine that felt there was a link comprised two instrumentalists and
seven critics. This revealed a fairly even split, though it must be warned this was
done without elaborating the degree to which they felt there was or was not a
connection, which, as we saw with C7 and C13, may be a limited connection.
so, the interviewees generally felt the protests were not on a scale that seriously
challenges the central economic and political issues, or how donors interact with
Aid Industry in the oPt: Transfixed on the Same Old Rules
There was a prevailing feeling among interviewees that little had changed in the way
aid was given after 2011. For example, a major donor-instrumentalist (I1
Government Aid Agency) noted that they made no specific change other than to re-
emphasize the regional importance of resolving the Israeli –Palestinian conflict and
the relevance of their approach to Palestinian state building. A Critic (C8 PNGO)
noted that few major donors added new programmes to their operations and often
entrenched existing ones, while any new programmes were directly linked to
concepts of peace and normalization that are intrinsic to the existing peace dividends
Some interviewees felt donors in Europe were aware of the failure of aid, yet
remained transfixed on old programmes. One Critic (C3 Private Sector) said:
I did note the Europeans are becoming much more aware of the failure of the
political paradigm that they have built their entire intervention around, a two
state solution [Witney, 2013]. That noted, they remain transfixed on following
the US’s cue while all the while continuing to foot the bill of sustained
One of the reasons for a lack of change may be a dearth of innovation or
unwillingness to change, which has been noted by many researchers as characteristic
of aid over the past 20 years and is consistent with the instrumentalist approach to
development. A Critic (C13 Researcher) said:
The Arab Spring has not changed anything for Palestine, on any level.
Politically it has not, and in terms therefore of what aid does and does not do,
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and can and cannot do, has not changed one iota since 1993 or 1994. Basically
the donors are stuck in the rut of pretending to hope that somehow by
improving the economic conditions, peace will somehow miraculously
Another Critic (C16 – Researcher) noted that:
Since Oslo, donor operations and priorities have been strictly associated with
the Oslo framework. To date changes in operations and priorities remain
subject to the same paradigm and I cannot really perceive any serious changes
in the way donors relate to the Palestinian political cause, economy and
A Critic (C1 IGO) working at a prominent research agency stated that:
The basic dynamic between PA Donors relations was established 10 years
ago: Budget Support. In one sentence, Fayyad policies equal running to the
wall of reality. Democracy and governance programmes will flourish even
better than before: they are the donor-darling subjects, so this should not be
surprising if it is happening or will happen.
Interestingly, C1 went on to state that Palestinians do not need these good
governance projects, but rather efficient public institutions, suggesting that the
donor good governance project is not producing anything institutionally useful.
A number of critics did feel that there was a rebalancing of priorities, with donors
shifting funds out of the oPt to other countries caught up in the Arab uprisings,
particularly Egypt, Libya, Syria and Tunisia. For example, an aid provider in the
West Bank (C4 – PNGO), said: ‘Well, they [donors] got really interested in Egypt.
Everybody went there (meaning they left here) or became less important than their
colleagues covering Egypt. Everyone wanted to give money because it was hot and
exciting’. However, these claims were not corroborated by donors and often based
on hearsay without evidence, a potential fallacy noted by many critics themselves.
Some donors and critics did suggest that any change in funding levels might be
linked to the financial crisis in Europe.
A number of critics (e.g. C19 PNGO) also
noted that even if donors had moved funding elsewhere in the Middle East, or were
hit by the financial crisis, donors also seemed to be hesitating, taking a ‘wait and see’
approach to gauge the impact of the Arab uprisings on Palestinians.
Meanwhile, an interviewee (I6 IFI) working at an important donor institution
noted that even if there is no change to Palestinian aid, it does provide a model for
intervention elsewhere in the Arab world:
Basically Palestine teaches lessons to the region and provides expertise. In the
aftermath of the Arab spring it is questionable how much change had
happened in Palestine. For us, we are part of regional strategy, and I can tell
you that we are well advanced in terms of our projects and policies here in
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Palestine than the rest of the Arab world. We have civil society engagement
and also [the] inclusion of social protection programmes. So we can export the
last two decades’ models to the new Arab world and Palestine is teaching
lessons in this regards, since we are doing this here for so many years.
But there is no paradigm shift of course. Maybe the lists of demands from the
government had changed after the Arab Spring, however the PA has not
changed its plan mainly due to financial problems.
So while many donors admit aid has failed and critics often consider its impact an
unmitigated disaster, this donor considers the Investment in Peace model to be a
successful model that can be exported to other Arab Spring countries, illustrating the
diffusion of common patterns of aid in the Mediterranean basin.
For the rare interviewee who felt change had taken place, a critic (C6 – Youth
Movement) said it was becoming more negative. This standpoint may make sense,
because so many critics in the interviews and literature feel that aid is being used to
keep the Palestinians quiet while sustaining the occupation:
I think donors realize even more the power of economics in suppressing
people’s desires to revolt and ask for change. For example, the Arab Spring
increased the urgency by donor countries (and Israel) to come to the rescue of
the Palestinian Authority in September 2012 when economic protests began
against austerity measures imposed by Fayyad’s government.
This may be because, as one critic (C9 PNGO) concluded:
The overall framework has not changed and the operations after the Arab
spring remain within the European understanding to the nature of the region
that is based on keeping the same regional balances on one hand, while on the
other hand assuring stability and preserving the interests of Israel.
Of those interviewees who answered directly whether or not they felt aid had
changed after 2011, those who felt donor operations or priorities had not changed
numbered an overwhelming 21: six instrumentalists and 15 critics. Only four felt
there was a change: one instrumentalist and three critics.
Of those four, it is
important to note that one critic (C15 Researcher) felt the changes were only
minor, while another (C10 Researcher) felt there was a withdrawal of funding and
change for the worse.
Meanwhile, five instrumentalists did not notice a change in the way Palestinian
partners work with them since the Arab uprisings, while none noted a change.
Of the critics interviewed, nine offered the view that they did not perceive a change
in the way international donors work with Palestinian organizations, while just
three perceived a change. There seems to belittleevidencethattherewaschange
in the way aid and Palestinians interact with one another after 2011, and the
interviewees create an overwhelming impression of continuity in the oPt aid
442 J. Wildeman & A. Tartir
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Aid Patterns in the Aftermath of the Arab Uprisings
To conclude each interview we asked the interviewees what they think are the keys
to effective aid in the oPt following the Arab uprisings. So while the aim of this
article is not to speculate on ways Palestinian aid can be reformed to make it more
effective, some of the responses provided by the interviewees shed further light on
the aid process in the oPt. This is especially important bearing in mind the general
consensus of interviewees that aid has not changed in response to the uprisings, and
that the Palestinian protests are probably linked to long-standing socio-political and
economic factors tied to their unresolved conflict with Israel. These factors accrue
value when taking into consideration the importance of the Palestinian issue in
Middle East relations, geo-political stability, US and EU management of conflict in
the region, that the oPt represents the largest and deepest penetration of long-
standing Western aid in an Arab country and how this experience might affect
Western policy makers designing policy for the region.
Instrumentalists and critics hold fundamentally different views on how aid should
be given in the oPt, linked more to historical processes for which the Arab uprisings
may or may not be relevant. Instrumentalists sustain a very bureaucratized and
securitized institutional approach, which the critics argue should be openly resisted
in favour of indigenous leadership and self-determination. Thus the impression
conveyed by instrumentalist donors was to ‘stay the course’ that the original
policy model is sound and should simply be applied with renewed vigour. Critics, on
the other hand, believe that aid is reinforcing the occupation, the colonization of
Palestinian land and ultimately the destruction of Palestinian society. This process is
enabled by a donor-backed PA which operates without legislative or open
accountability in the oPt.
Instrumentalist policy recommendations appear not to have evolved since the start
of Oslo aid in 1993, or at all following the Arab uprisings (Tartir & Wildeman,
2013). They display the same normative values organized into the same processes
for intervention. One Instrumentalist (I1 Government Aid Agency) said the ‘key
for effective aid is to focus on state building with an emphasis on effective,
transparent and accountable governance and human rights’. For another
instrumentalist (I10 INGO) these policy prescriptions included ‘identifying the
most vulnerable groups, effective co-ordination with all stakeholders, participatory
planning, accountability mechanisms, and unfettered humanitarian access’. Another
prominent instrumentalist (I14 IFI) said: ‘the key issues for effective aid are:
predictability, clear priorities and ownership’.
Critics focused on the need to dramatically reform aid to strive toward Palestinian
self-determination. As part of that process of liberation, that aid needs to be
structured in a way to challenge the forces that sustain the status quo, such as an
authoritarian PA and the Israeli military occupation. A Critic (C9 PNGO) made it
clear that aid needs to challenge Israel, support democracy and not sustain a
repressive PA. In complete contradiction to instrumentalists, most critics have little
faith in the PA because it is dependent on donors and a failed Oslo paradigm. Some
critics (e.g. C8 PNGO) call for the abolition of the PA and Oslo altogether,
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considering them to be part of the problem rather than the solution. A participant in
the protests that hit the oPt in 2011 (C6 – Youth Movement) was unequivocal that
the occupation needs to be challenged: ‘Any effective aid model needs to challenge
Israel’s control over the resources and borders’.
Critics further demonstrate a deep-held cynicism about the aid process, disclosing
a belief that donors have hidden aims, which constitute the real reason for aid being
given. One Critic (C6 – Youth Movement) argued that aid is just another tool of
In my view international aid as it is applied in the West Bank and Gaza is just
one of many tools used to colonize what remains of Palestine and subdue the
Palestinian population under occupation. This is not only true when talking
about aid from Western countries, but to some extent the aid given by Qatar to
Gaza serves a similar purpose.
Building on these suspicions, critics (e.g. C7 – PNGO) consider donors complicit
in the occupation: ‘Most conscious, young Palestinians, activists, etc. see the
international community as completely complicit in the occupation’. One Critic (C8
PNGO) felt that aid is used to weaken Palestinian civil society and non-violent
resistance to the occupation. Another Critic (C14 Researcher) points out that
donors provide aid for interests that contradict the spirit of the peace process:
‘Donors undeniably have vested interest[s] in the region, whether it is the strategic
relationship with authoritarian regimes in the Middle East, their co-operation with
Israel, or the lucrative relationship with oil rich gulf countries’. A Critic (C11
Researcher) went so far as to express a feeling that donor reports cannot be trusted
because they do not reveal their real intentions, while musing that aid may actually
be quite effective for cynical reasons because it keeps the Palestinians under
Overall these points about effective aid are remarkably consistent with the
viewpoints held by instrumentalists and critics elsewhere in the development
literature. The instrumentalist approach to aid intervention in Palestine retains a very
centralized and bureaucratic model that is based on liberal economic principles used
to ‘modernize’ a ‘less developed’ society. Instrumentalists are famous for their
unwillingness, or perhaps inability, to change,
as per their response to the Arab
uprisings. This could reflect some form of institutional path dependency,
bureaucratic sluggishness or gaps in the co-ordination between various bodies.
Critics, on the other hand, attribute this lack of change to the hidden intentions of
donors. Those donors, far from being neutral observers, are effectively using aid to
keep the Palestinians quiet during on-going Israeli colonization of their land.
That aid is aimed less at the elimination of poverty than the expansion of PA power
used to dominate oPt Palestinians while simultaneously depoliticizing the
Palestinian struggle. James Ferguson observed a very similar process in Lesotho
in the 1970s in the Anti-Politics Machine, where he suspected World Bank/IFI
transformation of the agricultural sector, and other aid intervention, was simply a
point of entry for an intervention that included the expansion and entrenchment of a
444 J. Wildeman & A. Tartir
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donor-backed state’s power (Ferguson, 1994). From either perspective, there is no
argument about why instrumentalist donors are slow to react to the Arab uprisings,
because for the instrumentalists aid is working just fine. For critics aid is working,
but for all the wrong reasons. Either way, inertia exists because there is no need to
change, meaning there is no sluggishness and no gap in co-ordination.
Conclusion: Business as Usual
Taken in the context of the Arab uprisings that began in 2011, protests in the oPt
have been muted by comparison. They even remained relatively muted in the wake
of Gaza’s bombardment in Summer 2014. While opposition to foreign aid, the Oslo
Accord and the World Bank economic model moved tentatively beyond elite circles
to the Palestinian street, it is not immediately apparent why this has happened or if
there is any link to the uprisings. Many interviewees noted that the oPt exists under
unique conditions for the region, and that Palestinian protestors were responding to
long-standing problems linked to the occupation. Those protests may or may not
have been encouraged by the broader regional uprisings. If anything, a stalled
political process and economic difficulties spurred the protests, while the interviews
with the critics provide some insight into the dynamics behind the protestors’ way of
reasoning. Meanwhile, instrumentalist donors seem unfazed by the protests and
have, as our interviews indicated, not changed their approach following the Arab
uprisings, indicative of faith in the path laid out well before 2011. There was not
even an increase in the amount of aid spent in the oPt after 2011, which may indicate
that donors were not concerned that the Palestinian protests would grow and pose a
threat to regional stability. Donors instead seem content to stick with the same
Investment in Peace aid model they have followed since 1993. The absence of a
clear connection between the Arab uprisings and Palestinian protests only further
decouples any notion that the uprisings affected donor funding patterns.
The most notable shift may be a slight rebalancing of contributors to the existing
aid model with Arab donors stepping in to support it, such as Qatari investment in
Gaza noted by one critic (C16 Researcher) (Ephron, 2012). Otherwise, United
States Secretary of State John Kerry’s economic peace initiative (Greenwood, 2013)
exhibited remarkable continuity with the long-standing American policy of funding
a ‘peace dividend’ to buy Palestinians into a peace process. The 2013 Kerry
investment plan (Palestinian Economic Initiative) means to increase oPt GDP by 50
per cent over three years, and crucially to pacify the conflict (Tartir, 2014).
It parallels the ‘breaking the impasse’ initiative where 200 300 Palestinian and
Israeli businessmen gathered to work together and put pressure on their respective
governments, ‘kick-starting’ a new wave of economic normalization a process of
normalization that critics argue is part of the problem. And while the Kerry plan
aims to enhance the economic situation, Kerry made it clear that ‘the proposal would
depend on progress on a peace deal between the Palestinians and Israel’,
emphasizing the conditional nature of aid linked to the Oslo peace paradigm and
rejecting any radical departure (Breaking the Impasse, 2013; Kerry, 2013).
Unwilling to Change, Determined to Fail 445
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Meanwhile an argument has emerged, set forth by some critics, that oPt aid may
be having unintended, unwritten benefits for donors. From a national interest and
security perspective, aid may be working because it is pacifying the Palestinians and
promoting regional security – particularly where it has had the deepest penetration
in the West Bank. Whether or not the aid model is sustaining development and peace
then becomes irrelevant, and instrumentalist policy only obscures the real dynamics
behind Palestinian aid. Whether those critics are right or wrong, it is possible to
conclude with confidence that the model and the normative values of donor aid in the
oPt appear set to remain unchanged despite minor variations discussed above, and
regardless of aid’s failure to sustain peace or development.
Decoupling aside, it is the very resilience of the Palestinian aid model and the
scale of that intervention which marks out its importance in the story about Middle
East regional aid. At the same time, the oPt has acted as a ‘laboratory’ where donors
have been able to test a model which not only seems secure but successful enough
that a major donor instrumentalist (I6 IFI) would consider exporting the post-Oslo
Palestinian aid model to other Arab states in the wake of the 2011 uprisings. Even
rich Gulf Arab donors are showing interest in what that model has to offer, as
evidenced by the recent Qatari investment in Gaza. Rather than massive Arab
uprisings being exported to the oPt and changing the approach of donors there, it is
past Palestinian aid recipes focused on security priorities and neoliberal solutions
which may be exported out of the oPt and around the Mediterranean. Thus the
inclusion of Palestine, a polity generally considered inactive in the 2011 uprisings,
helps us rethink patterns of aid for the whole region.
It is not clear if Palestinian attitudes about aid have been affected by the wholesale
destruction of Gaza in the summer of 2014 and as the Arab uprisings turned
inexorably violent. This may be better gauged in the wake of whatever aid package
is devised by international donors, which as of writing this article is expected in mid-
October 2014 in Cairo. However, historical evidence suggests that donors will stray
little, if at all, from the instrumentalist ‘peace dividend’ model built on the
foundation of the long moribund Oslo peace framework. This may be described as
an unwillingness to change and a determination to fail.
1. The following World Bank report only rarely mentions the role of Israel in destabilizing the Palestinian
economy and completely ignores the critical role the occupation plays to that effect. Rather, it often
blames politics as an exogenous factor separate from aid, sabotaging an otherwise ‘sound’ World
Bank-led aid model: Government of Japan and World Bank. (2000)Aid Effectiveness in the West Bank
and Gaza.
2. The researchers were affiliated with various Palestinian and international research institutions or
3. Note that we used the term Arab ‘Spring’ in the interviews, in lieu of ‘uprising’. One interviewee (C15
Researcher) objected to the use of the phrase Arab Spring: ‘Overall, I don’t think that the use of
phrase Arab Spring is appropriate; it decontextualizes what is happening in relation to the history and it
is a very depoliticizing term. The mainstream media repackaged what these revolutions are about: they
are popular uprisings/intifadas’.
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4. Other than the protest against the Paris Protocol, there had been protests organized by the youth
movements against USAID and their role in brainwashing Palestinian youth: https://www.facebook.
com/media/set/?set ¼oa.159277987491886&type ¼1. During Obama’s visit to the oPt in 2013 many
slogans were against USAID: In September 2012, the European Union
Coordinating Office for Palestinian Police Support (EUPOL COPPS) offices were closed by the youth: A protest was organized in June 2013 in front of the Japan International Co-
operation Agency (JICA) in support of normalization activities: A few protests
were organized against The International Committee of the Red Cross:, and
one of the messages was ‘the prisoners need a decision, not financial assistance’:
5. Fourinstrumentalists and three critics did not provide a direct answer.
6. Indeed many INGOs or donors, notably from Spain, Italy and Greece, closed their offices in the oPt.
7. Twocritics and one donor did not provide a direct answer.
8. One critic (C11 – Researcher) said: ‘Western aid is being very effective, don’t you think? It is keeping
the Palestinians relatively acquiescent, and ensuring Israel’s security. I consider it misguided to regard
the goal of Western aid as being to build a viable Palestinian state and economy. I no longer believe
what is written in donor reports as in essence actions speak louder than words, and the actions are about
ensuring Palestinian acquiescence and Israeli security’.
9. One criticism of the instrumentalists is that they habitually confirm self-fulfilling prophecies about
the viability of the programmes they have designed. In the case of Palestinian aid based on the
normative values laid out in the Oslo aid model, support for programmes is renewed based less on
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... The tenth and the final core issue is economic relations. This section will provide insight into how the two administrations addressed an economic plan within a peace agreement (Wildeman and Tartir, 2014). ...
This research focuses on the two most recent peace initiatives by U.S. presidents to solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The examination of Obama's "Peace Vision" and Trump's "Peace to Prosperity" initiatives concern differences and similarities in vision and actions addressing the conflict's key issues, such as land and borders, Jerusalem, refugees, Jewish settlements in the West Bank, and security arrangements. The findings highlight the many differences between the two plans in detail and attitude, such as the view of the Trump administration on the legality of the Jewish settlements in the West Bank and other issues where the Trump administration heavily favored Israel interests over Palestinians. However, a few similarities emerged in protecting the Israeli demands, such as regarding the Palestinian refugees and security arrangements. When examining conflict resolution methods and third-party intervention approaches, we conclude that Trump used the "Power Mediation" method and the "Win-Lose" approach for third-party intervention. This is conversely to Obama, who used the "Pure Mediation" method and the "Win-Win" approach.
... As a starting point, it should be noted that the MENA region is a significant recipient of aid, despite having relatively high levels of development (Root et al. 2016). Additionally, the purposes of this aid vary, both in terms of the interests of donors (Bicchi 2010;Pellicer and Wegner 2009;Wildeman and Tartir 2014) and in terms of the sectors that aid is allocated toward. ...
A large literature has emerged to explore the relationship between foreign aid and emigration from aid-recipient countries. Scholars suggest that aid affects international migration from these countries through its impacts on economic growth, civil conflict, and political institutions. This chapter builds on this literature with specific attention to the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). The authors review the relevant literatures on aid, development, and international migration, discuss key characteristics of the MENA region, describe the volume and composition of aid to MENA countries, and reflect on how aid is affecting migration patterns. They also offer some preliminary statistical analysis, finding a negative correlation between aid and emigration from the MENA region. After presenting preliminary results, a research agenda is offered for economic development specialists interested in further investigating aid and migration in the MENA context.
... Subsequent wars, dependency on international aid, and failed institutions have been central determinants of lives and livelihoods in all three countries. For decades, trillions of dollars in foreign aid failed to eradicate poverty and foster sustainable development (Wildeman & Tartir, 2014), and the deprivation intensity (the average deprivation score experienced by poor people) on the Mutlidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) of 2019 remained very high; Afghanistan-48.6%, Iraq-37.9%, and Palestine-37.5%. ...
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The impact of Islam upon women’s entrepreneurship in conflict zones is woefully absent from the entrepreneurship literature. This is due to the absence of published scholarship about this context rather than the absence of Muslim women’s entrepreneurship there. To address the gap in the literature, we offer a contextualized analysis and contribution by adopting an Islamic feminism lens and explore how Islamic feminism empowers women entrepreneurs and their entrepreneurial activities and behaviours in conflict zones. We argue that Islamic feminism is a process of ‘ijtihad’ shaping the business ethics of Muslim women entrepreneurs operating in conflict zones and removing the traditional, patriarchal, colonial and other cultural layers with which Islam has been veiled. The findings from the 16 Muslim women entrepreneurs operating in Afghanistan, Iraq and Palestine and participating in our study reveal that Islamic religiousness plays a critical role in shaping the Muslim women’s entrepreneurial behaviour and their ability to endure the hardships of living in a conflict zone. Within all three research contexts, the participants interpreted and practiced their Islamic religiousness in ways consistent with Islamic Feminism principles and that deviated from patriarchal Islam dominating their conflict zones. This paper contributes to the growing research areas on Islamic feminist foundations for business ethics and women’s entrepreneurship in conflict zones by exploring how Islamic feminism empowers women entrepreneurs in Muslim conflict zones.
... The rationale for financially supporting the Palestinians rests on the premise that donors are building and training Palestinian institutions to ready them to run a state of their own (Persson, 2018). Various arguments attempt to situate why this international aid exists and persists; however, at its core it endures primarily to induce Palestinians to "buy into a peace agreement with Israel" (Wildeman & Tartir, 2014). Some argue that international donor assistance, while aimed at state-building, contributed to the fracturing of Palestinian politics and undermined democracy and economic development in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip (Farsakh, 2016;Turner, 2014). ...
Since the 1993 Oslo Accords, international actors such as Canada, the European Union, European member states and the United States have played a leading role in building a Middle East Peace Process (MEPP) meant to drive Israel and the Palestinians towards conflict resolution. However, their efforts appear to have reached an impasse. Western MEPP policy at present represents both an analytical and a policy failure. While Western governments have been able to sustain this failed policy for years, developments in the Israeli-Palestinian arena could shift the nature of the conflict and therefore, shatter conventional Western policy towards the region. This article posits that the MEPP’s failure may be tied to structural-cognitive weaknesses in the international community’s handling of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. These weaknesses, which simultaneously undermine both the Palestinians and Israel, include a failure to confront false and misleading collective assumptions in donor policy, a main contributor to the failure of the MEPP. Meanwhile, changed realities on the ground and a paradigm shift brought on by the apparent demise of the two-state solution present challenges and opportunities for the international community as it struggles to remain relevant in conflict resolution in the Israeli-Palestinian arena in the coming years.
... Subsequent wars, civil wars, aid dependency and failed institutions have been central determinants of lives and livelihoods in those countries. For decades, trillions of dollars in foreign aid to those countries failed to eradicate poverty and foster sustainable development (Wildeman and Tartir 2014). Their cultures are predominantly Muslim, and the women are bound by conservative cultural and religious norms and practices, which limit their role in economic, political and social lives (Ahmed-Ghosh 2003). ...
... But, I go on to argue that with the Gaza Strip's healthcare, sanitation and waste management infrastructure already impoverished due to the siege imposed by Israel and Egypt since 2007, a pandemic would prompt an severe public health crisis among an already vulnerable population. In the end, as is often the case, the donor policy response to the pandemic in Gaza is likely to be devised as dependent on the ebbs and flows of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict (Wildeman & Tartir, 2014). However, I propose that seeing as the pandemic is not a direct consequence of the conflict, it provides us an opportunity to reformulate the (development) policy approach to the Palestinian enclave in a way that it is contingent, not on the trajectory of the conflict, but on the development needs of Gazans. ...
In this article I argue that while the COVID-19 outbreak is at its early stages in the Gaza Strip, the Palestinian coastal enclave is particularly vulnerable to its effects – not least due to the multiplicity of existing development challenges that have resulted from an ongoing Israeli and Egyptian-imposed blockade. With the economy at a standstill, the Palestinian governing authority has limited financial resources to (re)build key sanitation, hygiene, waste treatment and water supply infrastructure. These (infrastructural) inadequacies, while already a public health concern before the onset of the pandemic, now renders Gaza particularly vulnerable to the spread of viruses and diseases. Additionally, the limited movement of goods because of the siege has led to an acute shortage of medical supplies and equipment that are essential for combating a pandemic. Nonetheless, the COVID-19 outbreak is also “unique” in that it presents Gaza with a crisis that has little to do with the hostilities that define the politics of Israel-Palestine. Yet, the potential of a widespread outbreak also lays bare to the development challenges that Gaza faces as a result of the conflict. This, I conclude, provides an opportunity for the donor community to, under pretext of combating the pandemic, remedy some of the consequences of the conflict and siege without having to contend with the (political) stigma of doing so.
This article extends the literature on “ ngo -ization” in the Middle East and Global South to examine “voluntary grassroots organizations” ( vgo s): groups that operate on a voluntary basis and position themselves outside of the formal ngo sector and foreign aid system. Based on nine months of ethnographic research in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, the article examines how vgo s use heritage practices as a two-pronged challenge to the ngo -ization of Palestinian civil society. Whereas ngo -ization depoliticized civil society, vgo s resist depoliticization by mobilizing Palestinians to counter the Israeli occupation. And whereas ngo -ization professionalized civil society, vgo s resist professionalization by building large volunteer bases, emphasizing long-term processes of citizen mobilization rather than short-term outcomes, and remaining grounded in local communities and accountable to local citizens. Their work reflects larger trends around the world in which civic actors turn to informal organizing in an era of growing disenchantment with traditional ngo s.
Este artículo explora la cooperación para el desarrollo de España con Palestina desde los inicios de la década de 1990 hasta 2019, dada la importante relevancia que ha tenido esta región para la política exterior española durante ese periodo. Para ello, en la investigación se ha realizado un exhaustivo análisis de las bases de datos de la cooperación española que ofrece la AECID a través de su portal web Info@OD y de numerosas fuentes documentales primarias procedentes de organizaciones del ámbito de la cooperación, tanto gubernamentales como no gubernamentales. De esta forma, se han definido las principales características de la cooperación española hacia la región y se muestra la evolución de la Ayuda Oficial para el Desarrollo del Estado español con Palestina, tanto en volumen como en modalidad de ayuda y sectores de la cooperación destacados, examinando sus continuidades y discontinuidades a través de las distintas legislaturas de Gobierno. Finalmente, el artículo destaca la utilización de las herramientas de ayuda para la aplicación de políticas de construcción de paz liberal en Palestina e Israel.
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Over US$40 billion has been spent by international donors as foreign aid for Palestinians living in the occupied West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza Strip since the Oslo Accord was signed in 1993. This makes Palestinians one of the highest per capita recipients of non-military aid in the world. That aid was designed as development programming meant to foster conditions that Western donors considered necessary for peacebuilding with Israel. However, their development aid has failed to achieve three main objectives peacemakers envisaged: a lasting peace between Palestinians and Israelis, effective and accountable Palestinian institutions, and sustainable socioeconomic development. This chapter addresses the political economy of the nexus of development aid and the Palestinian de-development process taking place under Israeli colonial rule, by examining the different donor approaches to understand what went wrong. It does this by categorizing and assessing the way policymakers and analysts have approached Palestinian development, based on analysis of key features, underpinning assumptions and arguments. This resulted in four categories—Instrumentalism; Critical Instrumentalism; Critics; and Neocolonialism—some of which are comfortable with the status quo, and some that want to challenge it. The chapter concludes by arguing any political economy driven analysis or framing of the impact of foreign aid in the Palestinian context necessitates recognizing the inherent and embedded structures of power and relations of settler colonial dominance and control in the development paradigm and de-development processes.
This chapter explores the political economy of the Palestinian Authority (PA) through a fiscal sociology approach. It examines the nexus between contemporary and historical fiscal affairs and economic structures of the West Bank and Gaza Strip before and after the establishment of the PA. To understand this relationship, this chapter studies the evolution of public revenues since 1967, investigates recent neoliberal attempts at tax reforms, and identifies the economic consequences of the PA’s fiscal structure. Essential to this discussion is the PA’s fiscal relations with the wider Palestinian economy and its ability to utilize its budget to co-opt or coerce different economic actors. To dissect this case, the detailed workings of the clearance revenue mechanism, PA public debt, and the arrears system are examined. The chapter demonstrates that the Oslo development model/framework provided the PA with public revenues but equipped it with little leverage over controlling or devising fiscal policy. It argues that public revenues in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT) have historically served as agents in an overarching political economy architecture of control. In addition, the PA’s budget reinstated and, at times, innovated new measures of economic and fiscal colonial control in OPT.
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The state formation process in Palestine started after the Oslo agreements between Israel and Palestine in 1994, which established a Palestinian quasi-state. The process came, however, to an almost complete halt with the onset of the second intifada in late 2000 and with the Israeli reoccupation of the West bank and Gaza in 2002. This chapter argues that despite the authoritarian traits and strengths of the Palestinian National Authority, which could have led to a distinct developmentalist state, the same traits pushed the PNA into corrupt, clientelist practices and fragmentation. The obstacles were almost insurmountable. Palestine had an unsettled international status and an open-ended conflict with Israel over territories and resources, and an enclave economy. Some signs were nevertheless very positive. Initially there was a large degree of national pride and willingness to make huge sacrifices for the purpose of nation reconstruction, a large degree of popular support for the PNA, quite a degree of unity and autonomy within the state leadership (based as it was on the PLO), and a display of government capacities to implement some of the basic policies and reforms necessary for development. However, the clientelist and corrupt practices, together with a weak legal foundation and internal resistance to democratisation, hampered the process of democratisation and participation, restricted the institutionalisation of checks and balances, and opened up for massive criticism and weakened legitimacy of the regime. Thus, PNA failed in fulfilling the pressing need for democratic reforms, including room for participation, institutionalisation, and transparency, in order for the Palestinian Authority to gain more legitimacy internally and externally.
The occupied Palestinian territories (oPt) are a major recipient of global aid flows, ostensibly aimed at improving development outcomes for the Palestinian population. This article presents a critical analysis of the ways that development is being conceived and practiced by major actors in the oPt. By analyzing different conceptions of power, the article examines how dominant approaches to development hide the ongoing reality of Israeli settler colonialism by dehistoricizing Zionism and its project; incorporating the structures of Israeli occupation into official Palestinian development strategy; and promoting an economic perspective that views development as an objective and disinterested process operating above (and outside) power relations. After considering some of the ramifications of current approaches to development, the article concludes with brief remarks on how this critique can help to reframe and articulate an alternative strategy. © 2016 by the Institute for Palestine Studies. All rights reserved.
Palestinian Civil Society examines the development of civil society in the Arab Middle East and the impact of western donors, with particular reference to the Palestinian case. Looking at the evolution of Palestinian civil society organizations from sociological, historical, legal, and institutional perspectives, the book sheds light on the involvement of donors in Palestine, and the effect that aid has had on Palestinian civil society at a social, political and ideological level. Drawing on Arabic texts, political theory and a detailed survey of donors and local organizations, this book challenges culturalist views that there cannot be a 'vibrant civil society' in the Arab world and examines the issues of depoliticization of civil society, the rise of the Islamist sector, and the gradual defeat of the left in the Occupied Territories. The author looks at how the interaction between donors and NGOs is not only centred on a western model of civil society, but also evolves around institutional mechanisms and disciplinary discourses, affecting the ability of local NGOs to adapt to the institutional requirements set by international donors. Accessible to non-specialists, this book will be of interest to students and scholars of sociology, Middle Eastern studies and development studies.
Why has the West disbursed vertiginous sums of money to the Palestinians after Oslo? What have been donors' motivations and above all the political consequences of the funds spent? Based on original academic research and first hand evidence, this book examines the interface between diplomacy and international assistance during the Oslo years and the intifada. By exploring the politics of international aid to the Palestinians between the creation of the Palestinian Authority and the death of President Arafat (1994-2004), Anne Le More reveals the reasons why foreign aid was not more beneficial, uncovering a context where funds from the international community was poured into the occupied Palestinian territory as a substitute for its lack of real diplomatic engagement. This book also highlights the perverse effects such huge amounts of money has had on the Palestinian population and territory, on Israeli policies in the occupied Palestinian territory, and not least on the conflict itself, particularly the prospect of its resolution along a two-state paradigm. International Assistance to the Palestinians after Oslo gives a unique narrative chronology that makes this complex story easy to understand. These features make this book a classic read for both scholars and practitioners, with lessons to be learned beyond the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Despite for many years receiving the highest per capita aid worldwide, the economies of the West Bank and Gaza Strip have failed to achieve any lasting developmental outcomes and suffer from major weaknesses which undermine their very survival. This book argues that the dominant, mainstream approach to the study of aid and aid effectiveness is theoretically and empirically inadequate for a comprehensive understanding and analysis of the workings of aid in developing countries, particularly those undergoing conflict. This book examines the nature of donor operations in Palestine, highlighting the political and ideological determinants of aid allocation and effectiveness, and focussing on the role of trade-related donor assistance in Palestine, more commonly known as Aid for Trade. It discusses how such trade-related assistance is only another instance of donors working 'around' the conflict, as opposed to taking it into account; and how aid to Palestine cannot bring about significant improvement as long as the Palestinian economy is fundamentally affected by Israeli occupation, settlements and blockade. It argues that unless restructured and more carefully targeted, aid can only act as a temporary relief mechanism. Furthermore, the book sheds light on critical areas within Palestinian territories that are in need of development and require significant and immediate attention at both national and international level.
This article analyzes employment trends of West Bank and Gaza Palestinians working in Israel during the Oslo years (1993-2000). While significantly reduced from pre-1992 levels, Palestinian labor flows to Israel remained important but changed in form and content, revealing contrasting Israeli policies toward the two territories. In Gaza, labor links with Israel were increasingly severed, reflecting the growing separation of the two economies and the transformation of Gaza into a de facto labor reserve. In the West Bank, where the process of "Bantustanization" is described, workers continued to be employed beyond the Green Line and in the settlements, enhancing the incorporation of parts of the territory into Israel.