International Aid to Palestinians: A Cursed Gift

Over $30 billion has been spent since 1993 by international donors as aid for Palestinians living in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip (OECD 2016). This “investment” in peace and development has made Palestinians one of the highest per capita recipients of nonmilitary aid in the world. In spite of those sums, however, peace and development remain elusive, and this aid has failed to achieve its three main objectives: lasting peace, effective and accountable Palestinian institutions, and sustainable socioeconomic development. Instead, Palestinians are forced to live in an aid-development paradox: increased amounts of aid are associated with major declines in socioeconomic and development indicators.

This aid has failed the Palestinian people miserably. It has failed to make them feel more secure, it has failed to reverse the cycles of de-development, it has entrenched the status of a captive Palestinian economy that is unproductive and aid-reliant, it has created structural deficiencies in the governance realm, and it has sustained and subsidized the Israeli military occupation. It also sustains the Palestinian National Authority (PNA), which is a heavy burden on the Palestinian people, and has resulted in major negative transformations in the Palestinian civil society, creating an “NGO republic” in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Around 10% of aid is received by the highly aid-reliant Palestinian NGOs (DeVoir and Tartir 2009).

Tartir, Alaa. (2017) ‘International Aid to Palestinians: A Cursed Gift’, Current Anthropology, A Commentary on ‘Contemporary gifts. Solidarity, Compassion, Equality, Sacrifice and Reciprocity from NGO perspective’, Vol. 58, No. 3, p. 317-339., DOI:

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