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Money can't 'fix' Palestine's occupied economy

15 110 0

This week the much-awaited Bahrain workshop is to take place in Manama, with various Arab and Western officials in attendance. The event is supposed to present the new economic plan for the occupied Palestinian territories, besieged Gaza and the wider region, which will allegedly get the Palestinian economy "going the right way".

While we shouldn't be surprised that a rich white man, such as President Donald Trump, wants to throw money at a problem to make it go away, it is quite disappointing to see that there are some who are buying into the narrative that a simple economic plan can be a solution to the decades-old "Palestinian issue".

It should be obvious to all that an occupied economy cannot "go the right way" even if billions are poured into its sectors. An occupation stunts economic development by default and no proposed financial "fixes" would ever work until it is fully lifted.

The economy of historic Palestine, once a thriving region, sharply deteriorated after the foundation of the Israeli state in 1948 and the subsequent occupation of Palestinian land. A series of "peace" agreements made in the early 1990s as part of the Oslo Accords brought Palestine under complete economic subjugation.

The 1994 Paris Protocol was particularly damaging. It imposed an unequal customs union, granting Israeli businesses direct access to the Palestinian market but restricting Palestinian goods' entry into the Israeli one; it gave the Israeli state control over tax collection; and it further entrenched the use of the shekel in the occupied Palestinian territories, leaving the newly formed Palestinian Authority with no means to impose fiscal control or adopt macroeconomic policies.

This in effect means that today Israel has full direct and indirect control over the levers of the Palestinian economy. The military occupation complements it by allowing the Israeli state to exercise physical control over the Palestinians' everyday economic activity and expand the colonisation of Palestinian land. What does this look like on the ground?

In Gaza, 35 percent of the farmland falls within the so-called "buffer zone" designated and enforced as such by the Israeli army. Farming this land leaves people at risk of coming under live fire. Other farmland in Gaza has been periodically aerially sprayed with........

© Al Jazeera