Western donors have spent more than $50bn in foreign aid in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT) since the Oslo I Accord was signed in 1993, hoping to foster economic and institutional development and pave the way for peace between Israel and the Palestinians. But instead of achieving these goals, this aid has been used to enable and sustain Israel’s colonial occupation and oppression of the Palestinians, according to a Palestinian scholar.
Alaa Tartir, a program director of Al-Shabaka, a Palestinian think tank, argues in an op-ed for Middle East Eye that the western development model that was adopted after Oslo was flawed and failed to address the root causes of the Palestinian plight. He says that the model ignored the colonial nature of Israel’s rule, which deprives Palestinians of their basic rights, resources and land, and imposes a system of apartheid, segregation and discrimination on them.
Tartir also says that the western aid has been used as a tool to discipline, silence and control Palestinians, rather than empower them. He cites several examples of how aid has been used to undermine Palestinian resistance, co-opt Palestinian elites, fund Israeli security apparatus, subsidize Israeli settlements, legitimize Israeli policies, and create dependency and fragmentation among Palestinians.
Palestinian Authority role
Tartir also criticizes the role of the Palestinian Authority (PA), which was established as a result of the Oslo process and has received most of the western aid. He says that the PA has become a subcontractor of the occupation, serving Israel’s security interests and suppressing popular dissent. He also says that the PA has failed to deliver basic services and good governance to its people, and has lost its legitimacy and credibility.
Tartir calls for a radical rethink of the western development model and aid policies in Palestine. He says that Palestinians should view western donor aid with deep suspicion given the West’s long track record of favoring Israel’s perceived interests at the expense of Palestinians. He says that Palestinians should reject western donors who refuse to be transparent or to do no harm in occupied Palestine. He also says that Palestinians should demand accountability and reparations from Israel and its allies for their colonial crimes.
Tartir concludes that western aid cannot bring peace or justice to Palestine as long as Israel’s colonial occupation continues. He says that Palestinians need to pursue their own vision of liberation and self-determination, based on their rights, dignity and resistance.