Book Review: How Aid Hurt Palestine

October 29, 2009

Reprinted from Electronic Intifada. To support the WP Palestine solidarity campaign, click here.

From 1994 — shortly after the Oslo Declaration of Principles was signed — to 2006, when Hamas won Palestinian legislative elections in the occupied Gaza Strip and West Bank, international donors gave $8 billion in aid to the Palestinians, making them one of the most subsidized people on Earth. This aid ostensibly had three purposes: to support the peace process leading to a two-state solution, to foster economic and social development, and to promote institution-building. Yet, many years and billions of dollars later, Palestinians are poorer and further from statehood than ever before, and their dysfunctional national institutions face an unprecedented crisis of legitimacy.

In her first monograph, international relations specialist Anne Le More seeks to answer a straightforward question that ought to be of profound import to scholars, activists and decision makers: how and why did this happen? Along the way, International Assistance to the Palestinians after Oslo, the first in Routledge’s Studies on the Arab-Israeli Conflict series, provides an important critique of the belief that reconstruction, development and humanitarian aid form essential counterparts to political processes aimed at resolving longstanding violent conflicts. Le More’s study focuses solely on the Occupied Palestinian Territories; the questions it poses, however, could offer a template for exploring the extent to which “aid” has become the means to repackage Western military occupation and dependency as “state-building” and ”independence” in Iraq, Afghanistan, or Kosovo.

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