It’s time to rethink the structure of Palestinian aid
Since the Oslo I Accord was signed in 1993, more than $40bn has been spent by international donors as foreign aid for Palestinians living in the occupied West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip.
As long-time analysts, we have grown tired of adding this (ever-growing) number to the beginning of so many of our journal articles, op-eds and reports. Yet, we find we cannot avoid this, because of how clearly it underlines the failure of the western donor-driven development model, the moribund Oslo "peace process" it is meant to support, and the significant sums of aid funding that end up going into Israel's economy.
That sum ($40bn+) has also consistently made Palestinians one of the highest per capita recipients of non-military aid in the world (though it is far less than the overall sum of aid Israelis receive). And yet, both peace and development remain elusive, as this aid has failed to achieve progress on three main objectives: a lasting peace between Palestinians and Israelis; effective, accountable and democratic Palestinian institutions; and sustainable social and economic development.
Instead, Palestinians have been forced to live in an aid-development paradox. While large amounts of donor aid have entered the economy of the occupied territories, there has been a downward spiral in Palestinian economic and human development indicators. That has been accompanied by a hollowing out and de-development of the Palestinian economy.