Palestinian Affairs

WSJ: Initiatives to Boost Palestinian Economy “Slow to Show” Benefits

The Wall Street Journal assessed on Monday that a series of initiatives designed to bolster the Palestinian economy had – per the outlet’s archly written headline – been “slow to show” any benefits.

It’s been more than half a year since U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry announced an ambitious economic plan to channel $4 billion into Palestinian business sectors ranging from agriculture to telecommunications by 2016. But at a conference of the Palestine Information Technology Association on Sunday, businessmen said that the potential for realizing the promised investments was as hazy as the sandstorm that enveloped the gathering at Jericho’s Intercontinental Hotel.

February had seen a wave of analysis linking halting economic progress to endemic Palestinian corruption stretching back literally decades, and Palestinian journalist and activist Daoud Kuttab wrote on Monday that efforts have recently renewed in the Palestinian Legislative Council to pass transparency laws.

While the approval of an access-to-information law in Ramallah will be a huge step forward for transparency, such a law will not be of any use to Palestinians in Gaza at the present time. This will remain the case while Hamas, the de facto power in Gaza, refuses to recognize Palestinian laws passed without the participation of the suspended Palestinian Legislative Council.

Palestinian economic dysfunction has traditionally been identified as one of at least four structural barriers hampering the emergence of anything that might pass for a viable Palestinian state. Analysts and scholars have also focused on Ramallah’s lack of political legitimacy – Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas is in the ninth year of a four-year term – as well as on the persistence of rival Palestinian governments and the existence of multiple armed Palestinian factions. A territorial split between rival governments, with Fatah ruling the West Bank and Hamas ruling the Gaza Strip, or the absence of a monopoly on violence would by definition render a Palestinian state a failed one.

[Photo: proisraeli / Flickr]