Aid in the Palestinian Territories: Turning Off the Life Support

The 3.6 million people who live in the Occupied Palestinian Territories are heavily dependent on international aid life support and yet such is the frustration of those who deliver the aid that some have wondered whether this assistance should be suspended. This extraordinary move would probably result in a calamitous humanitarian crisis and the complete collapse of the Palestinian Authority and economy. Seven billion dollars has been spent since 1993 with limited reward and the enormous sums donated are incapable of doing any more than slow the decline in Palestinian living standards.

The World Today Published 1 July 2005 Updated 15 October 2020 4 minute READ

Robert Lowe

This is because present political conditions, mostly beyond donors’ control, severely hurt the Palestinian economy and people and make development impossible. But donors and their political masters have also made mistakes and have been slow or afraid to recognise that the aid process is failing.

international aid has failed to change facts on the ground in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Annual donor assistance there has doubled to $1 billion since the outbreak of the second intifada in September 2000 – equivalent to over $300 for each Palestinian, a figure unparalleled in aid since the Second World War.

In the same period, the Palestinian economy has suffered one of the worst declines in modern history. Personal incomes have fallen by nearly forty percent and almost half the population now lives below the poverty line. Real Gross Domestic Product per head has decreased by 38 percent since 1999 and last year over half of working age men were unemployed.

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