Saturday, December 8, 2012

World Bank, Gaza and Israeli Occupation

Gaza has been occupied by Israeli military forces and blockaded, under an economic stranglehold, from the rest of the world for decades.  The coast to the Mediterranean is blockaded by Israeli Naval forces to the point where humanitarian assistance from other nation-states can not even come through without Israeli interference.  The illegal Israeli apartheid wall and numerous Israeli military checkpoints have blocked Gaza off from all trade routes and Israel has continued to confiscate land and erect illegal settlements, despite international condemnation.  How can an economy exist if it can not freely export or import?  It is almost like colonialism, only more barbaric. 

There is heavy capitalist exploitation, guised in humanitarian efforts, at work in this area.  How much does it help the Palestinian people though?  Lets look at how the World Bank and private investments play into this situation.  Here is an excerpt from an 2005 article written by the Palestinian Grassroots Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign entitled "'Developing' Israeli Apartheid: The World Bank, International Aid and The Ghettoization of Palestine"

"While Palestinians are imprisoned, facing continued denial of their rights and aspirations, the Bank portrays a golden economic opportunity of a cheap, controlled labour force. The Bank’s blueprint for a new export-based economy, subservient to the strategic needs of Israel and global capital - with Israeli/foreign investment creaming off the profits - merges with the Occupation’s destruction of Palestinian farmland and local markets. Indeed, the Bank's reports hardly refer to agriculture at all, traditionally the core sector of the Palestinian economy. Instead, imposing Israeli-run industrial zones, military checkpoints and Jewish-only road systems onto the West Bank are policies that reflect the Bank’s overall strategy for a Do-It-Yourself Apartheid Guide for the 21st century.

As with any other “Third World” population that the World Bank subjugates into the global economy, the role assigned to the Palestinian people is simple: to cheaply produce goods for export to wealthier countries, strengthening economic dependency on global capitalist systems. The Bank insists that Palestinians must not only be willing to accept brutal military occupation, dispossession and expulsion, but must also sustain their oppressor's economy through primary goods and industrial output. Furthermore, walled-in Palestinians are marked as a captive audience, forced into a system of dependency upon the Occupation for even the most basic needs. Israel has drained Palestine of her natural resources, stealing around 80% of Palestinian natural water outputs on an annual basis. Now, in Gaza, the Bank states Palestinians who have been robbed of their water for decades should enter into trade agreements with Israel whereby they can buy back – “at Israeli commercial rates” – the same water stolen by the Occupation.

The convergence between Zionist actions and World Bank economics is clear, with international investment transforming the destruction and dispossession caused by the Israeli colonization policies into the Bank’s new showcase project: a series of massive Israeli industrial estates built on annexed Palestinian land. The so-called Tulkarem Peace Park, for example, is to be built on farmland stolen from the village of Irtah; land that sustained 50 families for generations and formed an integral part of community and family life. Now their only source of employment will be as an exploited worker on an Israeli industrial estate surrounded by walls, checkpoints and prison gates.

The World Bank ignores the inherent illegality of such estates and instead celebrates that they will employ cheap labour "with a minimum of red tape," i.e. the absence of trade unions, health regulations and other worker's rights. Israel’s most toxic and environmentally destructive forms of industry will be transferred to the West Bank, where Palestinians work for around a quarter of the wages in Israel (though even this is still too high in the opinion of the Bank's reports). They may try and dress these sweatshops up as liberation and independence, but they represent nothing more than a devastating system of racial capital not seen since the days of Apartheid South Africa."

The World Bank transferred 14.3 million to the Palestinian Authority in September 2012 with much of that financing coming from Britain and Australia.  The following link is a list of World Bank operations in Gaza and the West Bank.  When looking at the areas of operation, I attempt to identify job creation, possible importing and exporting (through Israeli occupation), and motives for foreign capitalist investment and profiteering.

Palestinian Grassroots Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign, 'Developing' Israeli Apartheid: The World Bank, International Aid and The Ghettoization of Palestine, May 18, 2005, (Accessed on December 8, 2012 from

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