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The Paris Protocol and the impoverishment of the Palestinian people

21 11 1

In 1994, still rejoicing in the apparent success of the Oslo Accords of the previous year, Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) embarked upon another set of deals in an effort to aid the contentious peace process. In May, both sides signed the Gaza-Jericho Agreement, remembered largely for its establishment of the Palestinian Authority (PA) as the legitimate body to govern the civil and security affairs of the Palestinians living under Israeli occupation. Five days earlier, an agreement of equal significance was signed, the Paris Protocol, designed to regulate all economic interaction between Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories.

Presented as a temporary measure, the final status of the economic integration between the two states was to be resolved alongside a future peace deal within five years; such a deal has never been agreed. Some 24 years later, Palestinian statehood remains unrecognised, leaving it without independent gates to the world economy. Instead, the regulations enforced as part of the Paris Protocol have led to widespread economic stagnation in the occupied territories.

Today, with nearly one in five Palestinians unemployed in the West Bank and more than 40 per cent of the population in the Gaza Strip without work, dependence on humanitarian assistance has become the norm for hundreds of thousands of Palestinians under occupation. The Israeli-led blockade on Gaza since 2007 has further debilitated the local economy, stripping basic necessities from the territory, with limited types and quantities of goods allowed in for its two million residents. Heavily reliant on aid, the myth of a functioning Palestinian economy has allowed Israel to exert its control over the lives of millions of people with international impunity; its actions are legitimised by Paris.

Tariffs and taxes

The Paris Protocol, also known as the Protocol on Economic Relations, was hailed as a landmark achievement following the Oslo Accords signed seven months earlier. The agreement stipulated that the Palestinian economy would be merged into that of Israel’s through a customs union, with Israel in control of all borders. The PLO had originally requested a free trade area to give the Palestinians greater autonomy, but the........

© Middle East Monitor