Friday, January 14, 2011

Are the Palestinians building a State or the Appearance thereof?

A new Ynet article (sorry, only in Hebrew for now) brings forth some very interesting research that confirms what many informed Middle East Watchers have known for quite some time.

For several years now we have been constantly informed that Prime Minister Salam Fayyad is the Palestinian David Ben Gurion. That he is quietly building a modern state, with effective institutions and a functioning infrastructure. Heck, the Palestinians are also building the new city of Rawabi, largely modeled on the nearby Israeli city of Modi'in.

What the media (western and Israeli alike) usually fails to point out that 60% of Palestinian GDP is completely reliant on Western donations. 

Donations can be fine... I mean where would Israel be if it wasn't for our good old Uncle from America, right? The real question is: are these donations used to build a viable national infrastructure and to create a solid private sector to sustain a viable modern, industrial state?

The answer is a resounding NO!

The money is mostly used to create a large bureaucracy and to line the Swiss bank accounts of the PLO Numenklatura. The Palestinians go a long with this... This new bureaucracy can provide them with a comfy office job where they are mostly expected to drink coffee (delicious one, I am sure) sit in an office and push papers around.

Unfortunately, this arrangement only benefits said office dwellers and the good Hummous joints of Ramallah for the short term. The real outcome is that a private sector, that was the driver of Palestinian economy during the days of Israeli occupation has been replaced with a class of useless bureaucrats that only provide the appearance of a functioning state. Meanwhile, employers cannot compete with the state over salaries. 

This brings me to the next question: is the talk about an approaching unilateral deceleration of a Palestinian state serious?

My gut feeling is no. Too many people are being fed well by the current arrangement. Moreover, the declaration of a state would force the PLO to become the Government of the State of Palestine and to accept the responsibility of a sovereign state. Do they want that? I don't think so... It's much too convenient to play the victim card in order to get western money.

However, I may be wrong. The Palestinians may really declare a state in the coming months/years! This is something that I am sincerely worried about. A Facebook state cannot be sustainable. When the flow of cash slows, this project will explode with major security implications for Israel and the rest of the world.

- QP, JA11

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