Middle East Monitor / March 4, 2021
Short-term funding initiatives for Palestinians provided without addressing Israel’s colonialism and military occupation have been proven to be a recipe for long-term failure. They simply do not address the decades of deprivation imposed upon the people of Palestine. With Trump at America’s helm, the failing Palestinian economy was partly blamed upon the withdrawal of US aid, a narrative that altered when the coronavirus pandemic became the focal point of all that is wrong with Palestine and the Palestinians.
On Monday, the World Bank approved a grant of $11 million for job creation in Palestine, in response to the economic impact of Covid-19. The investment will target the private sector and offer support to vulnerable workers, while also seeking to create more working opportunities for women.
“One of the key principles underlying this intervention is that creating jobs, especially in times of crisis and economic slowdown, will generate benefits that go beyond the individual gains that result from increased earnings,” said the bank.
Statements such as these do not take into consideration decades of deprivation as a result of Israel’s colonisation. The 1994 Paris Protocol, remember, basically tied the Palestinian economy to Israel’s. The more that the economic catastrophe in Palestine is dissociated from its roots, including the occupation, the less opportunity there is for Palestinians to truly become autonomous.
The pandemic has exacerbated economic concerns worldwide, but the inequalities in Palestine stem from the systematic expulsion of the Palestinian people from their land, as well as the international community’s disparity in how it deals with Israel and the Palestinian Authority. Each time a crisis looms, the international community offers short-term solutions that do nothing to address how Israel’s encroachment on Palestinian land has a hugely damaging effect on the local economy.
In February, Kanthan Shankar, the World Bank Country Director for the West Bank and Gaza, called for increased cooperation between the PA and Israel in order to ensure economic recovery and a comprehensive vaccination programme. “The Palestinian health sector faces significant challenges, and in times of Covid-19, improved coordination between the West Bank and Gaza, as well as between the Palestinian Authority and Israel, would serve as a regional public good in combatting the virus and ensuring recovery of the economy. It is also in the benefit of all to ensure high vaccination coverage rates,” he stated.
The Palestinian people are lost to Israel’s oppression, the PA’s corruption and the international community’s refusal to address the situation in Palestine through a settler-colonial lens. The pandemic is a temporary pressing concern, albeit one with no end yet in sight, and the international community prefers short-term fixes, even if these do not alter the overall plight of the Palestinian people.
What can the World Bank’s $11 million accomplish when the billions of dollars spent on funding the PA have not really benefited the Palestinian people, due to corruption as well as Israel’s military occupation and the multitude of restrictions that they face daily? If there is increasing poverty in Palestine and therefore heavier reliance upon humanitarian aid, is the World Bank simply attempting to alter perceptions of Palestine with another grant that will not address the results of decades of Israel’s settler-colonial oppression?
Ramona Wadi is an independent researcher, freelance journalist, book reviewer and blogger; her writing covers a range of themes in relation to Palestine, Chile and Latin America