This article reflects on the body of knowledge that has been constructed around the Palestinian economy. It traces the paradigm shifts between the two most commonly used theoretical frameworks—neoliberalism and colonialism—and assesses their success in analyzing and explaining the determinants of Palestinian economic growth. The Zionist project itself as well as the significant disparities between the various Palestinian communities that exist (inside Israel, in the occupied territories, and in the diaspora) have figured unevenly or not at all in scholarly analyses. The paper argues that as a result, the scholarship on the Palestinian economy has been quite inconsistent. The discussion seeks to demonstrate that this inconsistency has compromised the ability of economists both to explain the failure of Palestinian development and to identify possible remedies.
Leila Farsakh is associate professor of political science at the University of Massachusetts Boston and a research fellow at the Center for Development Studies at Birzeit University. She is the author of, among others, Palestinian Labour Migration to Israel: Labour, Land and Occupation, 2nd ed. (London: Routledge, 2012).