Neo-liberalism for Development and Statehood in Palestine:Fayyadism, Aid Dependency and State Building

In post-Arafat era, the Palestinian polity, governance systems, and the socio-economic conditions witnessed dramatic changes. ‘Fayyadism’ and ‘state-building program’ became the two ‘magical’ paradigms and the only game in town. They acquired unprecedented levels of international aid and western ‘political’ support as an investment in building a Palestinian state by September 2011, through implementing neo-liberal and good governance reforms to prepare the Palestinian Authority’s institutions for statehood, despite the Israeli occupation. This paper aims to explore and analyze various aspects of Fayyadism and state-building program and their intertwine with the aid dependency status and its impacts on the Palestinian national aspirations. It will raises the questions: What kind of ‘powers’ and ‘politics of change’ had emerged in Palestine, under Fayyadism, that alter the historical equation ‘liberation before state’ to become ‘state before liberation’? How come the good governance and institutions building (Dawlat Al-Mo’sasat) has been elevated ‘to the status of a national goal in and of itself’? Do Palestinians need a ‘state’ or ‘homeland’ (Dawlah or Watan)? And what is a papier-mâché Palestinian state worth? Additionally, how could a technocrat who lacks constitutional legitimacy, political constitute and the traditional national trappings of leader redefines national priorities and provide technical prescriptions for political problems? Why Fayyad is viewed both as a Palestinian Messiah and as a traitor to the Cause? In nutshell, this paper acknowledges that Fayyadism is not only a strategy but also an outcome; it is a ‘home-grown’ phenomenon but externally funded and sponsored; and surely it achieved various ‘successes’ at the Palestinian Authority’s institutional level and some of the socio-economic indicators in the West Bank. However, since it is presented as the only and best approach to achieve the Palestinian aspirations, how much it is risky that this kind of forcing and convincing may be very problematic, and can shift it to be another authoritarian approach but galvanized with modernity packages?

Paper presented at BRISMES Annual Conference 2012, “Revolution and Revolt: Understanding the Forms and Causes of Change”, 26-28 March 2012, London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE). Click here for additional information.

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