Focus On: International Aid to Palestine

The Trump Administration’s decision to cut aid to the Palestinians and cease USAID operations in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT) must serve as a wake-up call for Palestinian policymakers to lay the Oslo Accords aid model to rest. Neither this model nor the masses of aid funds that have poured into Palestine – more than $35 billion since 1993 – have brought Palestinians closer to freedom, self-determination, or statehood, or provided for sustainable development. In fact, the opposite has been the case: Palestinians are forced to live in an aid-development paradox, with increased amounts of aid associated with major declines in socioeconomic and development indicators.

In this selection of pieces, Al-Shabaka policy analysts examine the effectiveness of international aid to Palestine, problematize its consequences and the harmful ramifications of aid dependency, and suggest ways forward to reform and re-invent Palestinian aid. The analysts argue that development cannot be understood as a mere technocratic, apolitical, and neutral process. Rather, it must be recognized as operating within relations of colonial dominance and rearticulated as linked to the struggle for rights, resistance, and emancipation.

The Failure of Aid

Donor Complicity in Israel’s Violations of Palestinian Rights

By Nora Lester Murad 

Nora Lester Murad elucidates donor practices that violate basic human rights, outlines eight questions that must be asked about aid complicity, and suggests mechanisms for oversight of the aid industry. Read more…

Persistent Failure: World Bank Policies for the Occupied Palestinian Territories

By Alaa Tartir and Jeremy Wildeman 

Alaa Tartir and Jeremy Wildeman assess the World Bank’s irrelevant and sometimes harmful policy recommendations and argue that until the Bank better understands the real conditions of Israeli occupation, it will continue to provide unrealistic recommendations that are based on a long-dead era of Oslo rapprochement. Read more…

Unmasking “Aid” After the Palestine Papers

By Samer Abdelnour

Samer Abdelnour examines the integral role played by the aid industry in ensuring the de-development of the Palestinian economy and argues that in the absence of accountability mechanisms the aid industry will continue to be complicit in the deliberate devastation of the people it claims to serve. Read more…

The Reinvention of Aid 

Can Oslo’s Failed Aid Model Be Laid to Rest?

By Jeremy Wildeman and Alaa Tartir 

Jeremy Wildeman and Alaa Tartir argue that donors are reinforcing failed past patterns associated with the so-called peace dividends model while making only cosmetic changes to their engagement. Read more…

Defeating Dependency, Creating a Resistance Economy

By Alaa Tartir, Sam Bahour, and Samer Abdelnour

Alaa Tartir, Sam Bahour, and Samer Abdelnour point to the need to consider how Palestinians can institutionalize and eventually create a bureaucracy around a democratic people-driven development agenda, and argue that any new Palestinian economic vision must embrace dignity in aid. Read more…

A New Model for Palestinian Development

By Samer Abdelnour

Samer Abdelnour analyzes Oslo-inspired pitfalls of Palestinian development and misguided donor attempts to promote private sector development, and argues that a Sustainable Local Enterprise Networks (SLENs) approach to development and reconstruction can work in the Palestinian context. Read more…

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How will the Joint List fare in Israel’s snap election?

Less than six months since Israelis went to the polls, September 17 will see a fresh national election after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu failed to secure a governing coalition last time around.

For Israel’s myriad political parties, the unusual rerun represents an opportunity to correct strategic errors made during the April vote.

Those hoping to benefit include parliamentarians representing Israel’s Palestinian citizens. Before April’s vote, an electoral alliance of four smaller Palestinian parties had split into two competing pair-ups, leading to a weaker-than-expected showing in the polls as the Hadash-Taal alliance picked up six seats, while the United Arab List-Balad bloc won four.

But legislators from all four parties have reformed the Joint List alliance ahead of next month’s polls in a bid to boost voter turnout in the Palestinian community and secure more seats in the Knesset.

When the same parties combined on a single slate for the 2015 election, the alliance secured 13 seats, making it the third biggest bloc in the Knesset at the time.

Disjointed list

The disintegration of the Joint List began in February when Taal’s Ahmad Tibi announced his party would run independently. Soon afterwards, the rest of the list fragmented.

As well as ideological differences, much of the infighting within the Joint List had centred around the allocation of Knesset seats to the constituent parties. The dismal showing in April, however, convinced the four parties of the need to reunite, which they eventually did.

“It was clear that our people punished us for splitting apart,” Haneen Zoabi, stepped away from national politics this year after a decade in the Knesset with the Balad party, told Al Jazeera.

Amjad Iraqi, a policy analyst at Al-Shabaka think-tank, told Al Jazeera “the parties realised early on that they had made a grave mistake by breaking up the List.”

In the days preceding the April vote, “party members were in panic trying to get Palestinian citizens out to vote”, he said. “Though the two slates managed to scrape past the threshold, the damage was evident,” he added.

But analysts and voters are sceptical as to whether the newly-reconstituted Joint List will repeat the success of 2015.

Ibrahim, from Nazareth, voted for Hadash-Taal in April and says he will vote for the Joint List this time, despite frustrations with recent events.

“I think everyone is disappointed with what happened,” the 33-year-old told Al Jazeera. “They should concentrate on actually representing us, instead of focusing on getting more seats for each party.”

“This is the last chance I will give them,” he said, adding that he did not expect them to get as many votes as in 2015.

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An Artist’s Ode to Al-Shabaka

The Palestinian artist Kamal Boullata has created a work of art dedicated to Al-Shabaka, the global Palestinian think tank. All proceeds of its sale are going to support our mission.

The artist dedicated this limited edition of a silkscreen print to Al-Shabaka because of his belief in our unique role in establishing a platform for solid Palestinian analysis and debate across borders and walls, helping to transform the difficulties of dispersal into an intellectual  force.

Titled Qasida, the print’s geometric components mirror the rhythmic structure of the classical Arabic ode. The silkscreen is hand-printed on acid-free MultiArt Silk, 400 gr. and produced in the studios of Martin Samuel in Berlin in a limited deluxe edition of 50, titled, dated, numbered and signed by the artist with 10 artist’s proofs noted in Roman numerals.  

To acquire a copy of this exclusive print please email [email protected]

About Kamal Boullata

The award-winning Palestinian artist and writer Kamal Boullata was born in Jerusalem. In her review of his book Palestinian Art From 1850 to the Present, the British art critic Jean Fisher wrote, “Kamal Boullata’s magnum opus stands alongside the works of Mahmoud Darwish and Edward Said as a testimony to a Palestinian generation that refused to relinquish its faith in a just and radical humanism.”

Public collections holding Kamal Boullata’s paintings, prints and artist books include the British Museum, London; the Museum of Modern and Contemporary Arab Art, Institut du Monde Arabe, Paris; Patronato de la Alhambra Islamic Museum, Granada; Khalid Shoman Foundation, Amman; New York Public Library, New York; Bibliothèque National de France, Paris; Bibliothèque Louis Notari, Monaco; Barjeel Art Foundation, Sharjah; Zimmerli Art Museum, Rudgers University, New Brunswick, NJ; Birzeit University Museum, Birzeit; Library of Congress, Washington, DC;  Centre Canadien d’Archtecture, Montreal.

About Al-Shabaka

Al-Shabaka: The Palestinian Policy Network was founded in 2009 and is an independent, non-profit 501(c)(3) organization. It draws upon the knowledge and experience of the Palestinian people, whether under occupation, in exile, or in Israel, so as to engage the broadest spectrum of perspectives in debate on policy and strategy to promote freedom, justice, and equality. It communicates its findings and recommendations to policymakers, civil society, and the media worldwide.

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