"International Aid: A “Necessary Evil” for Development in Palestine?"


The workshop opened with the speech of Dr. Asem Khalil, Director of IALIIS, who welcomed the audience and participants, and pointed to the importance of the suggested workshop. He also talked about the series of workshops the Institute is organizing, while emphasizing the reasons behind conducting this particular workshop.  He also thanked everyone who has contributed in making this workshop possible, from speakers to donors.

The second session was chaired by Professor Elieen Kuttab, Assistant Professor at the Institute of Women’s Studies at Birzeit University, and included the intervention of Alaa Tartir, Researcher, who presented his paper on “Aid and Development in Palestine: Anything, but Linear Relationship. Can Aid Contribute to Development?”. Through his paper, Mr. Alaa sought to answer an important question that is how, if at all, can aid contribute to development in Palestine, and what will be the impacts on the viability of the Palestinian economy and state? In order to answer these questions he Relied on  one basic premise and two lines of argumentation. The main premise is: the role of aid in the development process is dependent in the first place on the adopted development paradigm and approach. While the first line of argumentation looks at the so-far impact of aid on development; the second line of argumentation tries to spell out few conditions and prerequisites so aid can work better in the Palestinian context.

The third session was entitled “Salam Fayyad’s Plan to Reduce Dependency on International Aid” and the chair person of which was Dr. Yousef Daoud, Professor of Economics at Birzeit University. The speaker of this session was Dr. Naser Abdel Karim, Professor of Economics at Birzeit University, he presented his paper on “The Future of International Aid and the plausible options to achieve financial sustainability of the Palestinian National Authority.” In which he referred to the importance of aid and its prominence in the Palestinian context. He also mentioned that aid is political by privilege and aims at funding the peace process, it is not expected to be developmental; because neither its nature nor Israeli limits allow so. He indicated that these aids are indispensible, due to the huge deficit which can be surmounted in two ways: The first is through loans (which is not possible in the Palestinian case) and the second is through international aid. Moreover Dr. Naser claimed that the Palestinian Authority does not have any effective plan, and even if there was one, the finical dimension isn’t enough to solve the crisis, because the political dimension is the main problem. He explained that the entry to income taxes should be corrected through: redistributing income in the Palestinian society, to have an effective stimulation of the economic and agriculture sector.


On the other hand, the fourth and final session was entitled “Development Programs and the Anti- Colonial Struggle”, in which Nithya Nagrajan, visiting scholar at the development Studies center, presented her paper on “Development under Colonialism?” She sought to study the idea of pursuing “development” as framed by current development orthodoxy in a settler-colonial context. Based on two primary arguments: First, a historical de-construction of international assistance to Palestine shows that, ever since Oslo, development programs in occupied Palestinian territory have had a very political agenda. Whereas the second argument, is that: with the aim of feigning a total erasure of politics from the developmental imaginary, developmental actors sustain a technical discourse – allegedly “objective” and “neutral” – which represents their problematic in an approach that is largely devoid of recognition of the colonial fact.  In so doing, donors have shifted the gaze from Palestinian political aspirations (condition sine qua non for any meaningful developmental plan) to a neoliberal substitute.

Both Dr. Mandy Turner and Sam Bahour commented on the second session, whereas Ismat Quzmar and Dr. Mahmoud El-jafari commented on the third session. In the fourth session, both Khalil Nakleh and Dr. Husam Zumlot commentated on this session, that is before opening the floor for discussion with the audience. The workshop was concluded by Dr. Lourdes Habash,  who presented concluding remarks and recommendations. 

Tuesday, February 28, 2012 - 12