Lending and Development Policies in the Occupied Palestinian Territory

Firas Jaber and Imad Sayrafi

The study aims to create dialogue regarding development policies in the Palestinian Territories and focuses on official and unofficial lending and its’ role in development in the current Palestinian reality. As development as a process, could play essential role in supporting the resillience of the Palestinians and their resistance to colonization.

The Palestinian Authority (PA) has produced a variety of development plans. Showing contrariety, the PA development planning approach reflects two key aspects: (1) absolute embracement of liberal economic free market policies in the development process, and (2) full submission to donor prescriptions and conditions. The donor community has essentially sought to adapt social infrastructure to requirements of the “peace process”, and to keep the PA capable of some public service delivery to consolidate its control. This approach has gained more momentum after the second Intifada (uprising) broke out. Western countries provided a full-fledged review of access to funds and project implementation mechanisms to ensure more “discipline” and adjust “content” in confrontation of a society in revolt. As a result, liberal economic patterns have been introduced with a view to “individualise” the development process. Development has transformed into a commodity that is exclusively tradable among a group of private sector influential elites, who are linked to senior PA officials and Israeli commanders. 

This research paper analyses and deconstructs lending policies in the oPt in light of development approaches embraced by Palestinian governments. It assesses how lending policies have consolidated mega corporations and undermined SMEs throughout the West Bank. The study focuses also on the agriculture sector, and the poulty company Aziza and its’ effects on smaller farmers in the North of the West Bank.

PA economic policies are disrupted by relentless Israeli practices, which have deliberately targeted and destroyed Palestinian land and resources. Using all available techniques, the Israeli occupying forces also target agriculture – the forefront sector in confrontation of the Israeli settlement enterprise. Palestinian agricultural activity is impeded by a fierce competition with the Israeli agricultural produce, which is fully backed by the Government of Israel. Arable land is levelled, seized and destroyed by the Israeli occupying forces and settlers. In addition to absent government support, Palestinian economic and financial policies focus more on investment in service sectors, ultimately driven serving interests of mega capitalists. By incorporating companies and installations in the most labour intensive sites, these capitalists compete with simple farmers, effectively limiting their sources of income. A case in point is AZIZA, which competes with farmers in a vital area that has long been renowned for poultry farming. The company further manipulates prices of fodder and hens and sell livestock products in the local marketplace. Beyond doubt, the farmer alone is the losing party. 

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Editorial Board - CDS Birzeit, Palestine

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