RAMALLAH, August 3 (JMCC) - Writing in Foreign Policy
, Nadia Hijab lays out
the reasons why donor aid to Palestinians is crippling their society and negatively influencing prospects of peace.
Much has been written about the problems of Israeli-PA security coordination (e.g., Squaring the Circle and Our Man in Palestine), but donors still turn a blind eye. Earlier this month -- just a few days after the assaults -- European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso was proudly escorted by the PA to a college for "police sciences" in the occupied West Bank. He should have taken a moment out of his busy schedule to speak to Mona (not her real name) who told me, "I felt humiliated when I saw the trucks carrying furious police equipped with batons who didn't hesitate to beat us. And angry that the PA is wasting our collective energy instead of fighting the real enemy."
Instead, Barroso signed a $25 million agreement that included eight more police stations and a prison, with some funds thrown in to strengthen civil society's monitoring of the security sector. The question of exactly how civil society would exercise such control remained unanswered.
The support to the Palestinian security services is just one problem in the foreign donor-recipient relationship in the occupied Palestinian territories. Another major issue is the way donor aid relieves Israel of its obligation under international law to ensure the welfare of the population under its occupation. A tragicomic episode best illustrates how useful donor aid to the PA is to Israel. Last year, when pro-Israel members of the U.S. Congress rushed to cut off aid to the PA as punishment for seeking full membership at the United Nations, the Israeli government spoke out strongly in defense of that aid. And earlier this month the Israeli government gave the cash-strapped PA an "advance" on the tax money it collects on the PA's behalf -- an arrangement that is just one way the poorly negotiated Oslo Accords have proved disastrous to Palestinian sovereignty.
Not only do donors end up paying for the Palestinians' basic needs, their funds are often only allowed to go to projects approved by the occupying Israeli forces, actively promoting Israel's colonization plans. For example, USAID-funded roads in no way challenge Israel's system of segregated roads or the vast tracts of land grabbed along the way. Such "facilitation" actually violates international law: The International Court of Justice Advisory Opinion on Israel's Separation Wall, issued eight years ago this month, says that third party states are precluded from accommodating illegalities.
There are ways to help Palestinians stay on their land without doing harm that should be seriously considered. But the bottom line is this: What Palestinians need is the European and American political will to stop Israel's colonization and end discrimination. Without it, they face continued dispossession and exclusion, and no amount of aid will help.