Was Donor’s Conference An Exercise In Wishful Thinking?

The Palestinian Authority is euphoric about having more then $7 billion pledged at the Paris Donor Conference that would be used to rebuild the ravaged economy of the nation. However, there continues to be considerable skepticism as to whether this money alone is sufficient to get the Palestinian economy functioning or to ensure widespread public support for the leadership of President Abbas and Fatah. Economist Adel Samara dismisses hopes for genuine economic recovery while Palestinians live under Israel occupation. “It is akin to trying to breed fish in toxic water,” he noted alluding to restrictions by the Israeli army on free movement of individuals, goods and services within the West Bank and in Gaza. He charges Israel will only allow economic success if the Palestinian Authority agreed to give in on political considerations. Prime Minister Salam Fayyad underscored the grip Israel exerts on Palestinians when he noted; “The Palestinian economy is fully under the Israel occupation’s control. Israel controls all the borders and border crossings of the occupied Palestinian territories. Not a needle can get in or out of the West Bank without an Israeli consent.”

The 650 roadblocks inn the West Bank makes for difficulty in conducting normal economic activity. Money alone is not sufficient to quick start an economy in which goods can not readily get to market. The Israel government continues hoping economic pressure will result in political concessions. It is a Catch-22 situation, if the Palestinian Authority gives in politically to obtain economic freedom, it will lose political power which will only result in growth of Hamas which, in turn, will reduce the desire for political concessions. The other factor in the mix is the well known corruption that is part and parcel of the Fatah movement. At this point in time, Palestinians needs a government run by economists who have both economic and political power to transform the PA into a vibrant economy. Will Israel allow that to occur without first demanding political concessions?