Privatizing the Occupation: The Political Economy of an Oslo Development Project
During Oslo, a Palestinian industrial estates scheme sponsored by international donors was marketed as a template for the occupied territories’ integration into global markets. This article traces the project’s significance as an encounter between donor agendas, development discourses, and the nexus of Israeli security prerogatives and Palestinian clientele politics that shaped Oslo’s political economy. It argues that in addition to dubious economics, the scheme provided rent-seeking opportunities to Israeli middlemen arbitrating between Israeli security apparatuses and Palestinian economic elites, both rehearsing a wider tendency of development projects to obscure issues of power and control, and ultimately itself reinvesting a local, colonial genealogy of development as control.
Peter Lagerquist is a writer and freelance journalist based in the Palestinian territories and Israel. The following article is based on his MPhil thesis, St. Antony’s College, University of Oxford. Thanks are due to Philip Robins and Yezid Sayigh for their support and comments, and belatedly, to Joel Beinin and Richard Roberts for being the first among many who made this research possible.