Foreign Aid Should Be Used to Help the Palestinian Economy, Not to Line Pockets

May 17, 2017 | Shimon Shapira and Jacques Neriah
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The Palestinian Authority (PA) receives billions of dollars in foreign aid every year, much of it from the United States. Yet economic conditions in Gaza and the West Bank have been steadily deteriorating. Blaming the PA’s “corruption, inefficiency, and lack of transparency” for the fact that these funds have done little to improve the lives of Palestinians, Shimon Shapira and Jacques Neriah call on the U.S. to see to it that its money be used more wisely, and suggest a number of ways this can be accomplished:

[T]he PA suffers from underdevelopment, virulent poverty, pandemic housing problems, unemployment, lack of adequate medical care, inadequate educational institutions, a catastrophic infrastructure, and ecological and environmental hazards stemming from the pollution of water sources and aquifers—all of which became ammunition for radical Islamic organizations, which have taken advantage of the plight of much of the population to incite against Israel, the Jews, and foreign powers associated with the Jewish state, mainly the United States. . . .

[I]t is of the utmost importance that the U.S. propose an improved economic recovery plan to the Palestinians that will generate a situation in which Palestinians will not allow the extremists to rule their lives. The recovery must not be another cash handout to the Palestinians, but rather a program aimed at improving Palestinian infrastructure. . . . [To this end], the U.S. will have to present a package deal to be disbursed over the next few years to create growth, employment, prosperity, and recovery. All projects would be implemented by U.S. firms working with local sub-contractors. . . .

[For instance], Palestinian cities are a city planner’s nightmare. Reorganizing the cities/refugee camps to best serve their citizens should be a priority. The Gaza Strip is one of the densest areas in the world. The only way to survive the demographic outburst is . . . by dismantling the existing refugee camps and building instead a modern complex of high-rise towers together with the required infrastructure (kindergartens, schools, playgrounds, clinics/hospitals, and municipal services). In the new political situation, it is inconceivable that a condition can be allowed to exist in which a Palestinian refugee living in his own state will still be considered a refugee.

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