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Palestine, Israel and the Middle East: The Economics of Peace

by Janet McMahon
The Washington Report on Middle East Affairs ()
  • ISSN: 87554917

Abstract

The World Bank official described the Middle East's current economic situation as a "productivity crisis, not a problem of money." He urged the region's governments to increase the rate of private investment, give priority to investment in human capital (e.g., education and training), and to "get into the world economy," since "regional integration follows integration in the world economy, not the other way around." With regard to a Middle East development bank, Dr. [John Page] supported it as a "repository of thinking," ideas and policy--what he termed the "software" of economic development--rather than as a source of financing. Dr. Samir Abdullah, director of the Department of Economic Policy and Project Selection at PECDAR (Palestinian Economic Council for Development and Reconstruction), discussed the region's economics from the Palestinian perspective. Calling Palestine's economy the region's smallest and most disadvantaged, he enumerated its three positive aspects: a dynamic private sector--"the hope for the Palestinian economy in the future"--that had survived in "a constrained, hostile, oppressive environment"; a strategic location; and a "good base of human resources," both within Palestine and throughout the diaspora. The question to be asked in regard to the Olso accords, the economist argued, is "peace at what expense?" He said that the agreement did nothing to alter the "prevailing context of dependence between Palestine and Israel," with additional dollars and benefits going to Israel and thus perpetuating "the kind of rentierism that is the problem in the Arab world." Control of resources is the first priority, he agreed: "How can you give me money when I don't have water?"

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