Charlotte Silver writes:
“Israel besieges us, puts us in cantons — in cages — and the international community is feeding us in these cages. It’s anything but developmental and it’s helping Israel’s colonization, ethnic cleansing and dispossession,” Dr. Samia Botmeh said, as she sat in her office in the Center for Development Studies (CDS) at Birzeit University near Ramallah in the occupied West Bank.
Despite the massive amounts of development aid that have been poured into the West Bank, the productive capacity of the Palestinian economy — measured by examining the agricultural and manufacturing sectors — is half that of 1994, and accounts for no more than 12 percent of employment. While the World Bank and Palestinian Authority boast an 8 percent growth in gross domestic product (GDP), real per capita income is still 8.4 percent lower than what it was in 1999, signifying that the GDP growth is not reflective of income growth for the average Palestinian.
Egypt provides an elucidative comparison. Two decades of serious neo-liberal reforms produced a GDP growth in Egypt that was similarly applauded by the International Monetary Fund (IMF): between 2006 and 2008, GDP grew 7 percent and there was a 4.6 percent spike in 2009 alone. However, as was made stunningly clear at the end of January, the country’s GDP growth had not trickled down to the majority of the people: unemployment had actually increased and 40 percent of the population lived on less than two dollars per day.