Wanted Alternative: Challenging Oslo Economic Neo-liberalism and Advancing Resistance Economy

Since the establishment of the Palestinian Authority two decades ago after signing the Oslo Peace Accords, the nascent Palestinian governing body adopted a neoliberal economic agenda and aimed to transform Palestine into Singapore according to the official narrative. The adoption of the post-Washington Consensus prescriptions was part of the peace package, international aid conditionality and the hegemony paradigm. However, in the post-Arafat era, dramatic changes took place in the Palestinian polity and systems of governance. These transformations have created a new style of governance and state-building in the West Bank that came to be known as Fayyadism. This home-grown even though externally sponsored style of governance has been deeply influenced by donor’s prescriptions and funds and became the magical paradigm (Khalidi and Samour 2011). It is aimed at establishing a Weberian style of monopoly of violence and a neo-liberal economic agenda; as two fundamental pillars for the Palestinian state despite the existence of the Israeli military occupation and the intra-Palestinian fragmentation (Leech 2012).

The last five years witnessed an entrancement and an aggressive expansion of the neo-liberal economic agenda with their Palestinian flavour (Bisan 2013), and consequently they were accused of triggering activism in the streets-despite limited-, deepening the crisis of legitimacy, sustaining the de-development process and directly and indirectly entrenching the Israeli military occupation and the colonial condition. This paper aims to analyse the consequences of these policies utilizing primary empirical evidence gathered from different localities in the West Bank. This paper also aims to provide an alternative framework that proposes the resistance and steadfastness economy as an alternative and viable option and strategy for the economy of the ‘state of Palestine’. The contribution of this paper will build on the existing attempts (Al-Shabaka 2012; Abdelnour et at. 2012); however it will differ through employing a political economy theoretical framework and analyse the economic governance in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt) through a hybridity lenses and conceptual framework (Boege et al. 2009; Börzel and Risse 2010; IDS 2010; Luckham et al. 2011). The paper, through this hybridity perspective, will illustrate various dynamics and trajectories of economic governance particularly under the Fayyadism era and argues for an alternative development thinking in an attempt to move the debate beyond its current limitations.

Paper presented at the MESA 47th Annual Meeting, New Orleans, 13 October 2013.

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