Unwilling to Change, Determined to Fail:Donor Aid in Occupied Palestine in the aftermath of the Arab Uprisings

Since 1993 the international community has invested more than $24 billion into ‘peace and development’ in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt). That aid was meant originally to support the Oslo Peace Process through economic development. However, neither peace nor development has been realised, and both seem increasingly unlikely. While examining donor operations, priorities and the ‘aid-for-peace’ agenda, this paper investigates whether patterns in oPt donor aid have changed following the Arab uprisings of 2011. Building on 28 original interviews with Palestine aid actors where we found that patterns remain unchanged, this paper then argues that donors remain transfixed on a failed ‘Investment in Peace’ framework designed first by the World Bank for economic development in 1993. By comparing these research findings with the literature on Palestine aid, this paper argues that donors are not ready to alter a framework dominated by policy instrumentalists who emphasise pre-determined normative values over actual results, quietly trading financial inducements to Palestinians to forego political rights within a ‘peace dividends’ approach. Meanwhile, critics of the existing aid framework remain largely ignored with little influence over aid policy, in spite of two decades of failure to produce peace or economic growth on the existing model.

Paper presented at the International Studies Association Annual Convention “Spaces and Places: Geopolitics in an Era of Globalization”, 26-29 March 2014, Toronto, Canada

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