Amira Hass on Vichy Palestine

Back to a corrupt occupation:

Under the auspices of what is called "the peace process" between 1994 and 2001, and under the mantra of "strengthening the Palestinian economy will advance peace," many of the senior Fatah people and their circles hastened to make their personal fortunes. This might have been legitimate, of course, had the economic situation of a considerable part of the inhabitants of the occupied territories not become worse because of the Israeli restrictions on movement and had it not been a matter of money found for them in the coffers of Arafat and the Palestine Liberation Organization, or in shadier ways.

All too often there was a direct correlation between the newly rich Palestinian's ties to members of a Palestinian security force and the latter's ties to the Israeli Shin Bet security service or senior people in Israel. Closeness of this kind (to senior Fatah members and the Shin Bet) provided movement permits, ensured "family reunification," and so on. These and other kinds of occupation-dependent protectionism led the Palestinians to make a connection between "the peace process" and corruption.

The failures of 2006 and 2007 have not produced any proof, yet, that Fatah has learned the lesson. It has not distanced itself from protectionism and the system by which those close to the right people have convenient opportunities to get richer - in a sea of impoverishment.
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Issandr El Amrani

Issandr El Amrani is a Cairo-based writer and consultant. His reporting and commentary on the Middle East and North Africa has appeared in The Economist, London Review of Books, Financial Times, The National, The Guardian, Time and other publications. He also publishes one of the longest-running blog in the region, www.arabist.net.