The Ramallah bubble: Prosperity under occupation?

By Lia Tarachansky and Max Blumenthal

From street level in downtown Ramallah the economy seems to be thriving. Gleaming storefronts display an array of brand-name products, American fast food restaurants are sprouting up and the city is host to a bustling nightlife that could rival Tel Aviv. For years Israeli officials have pointed to economic growth in the West Bank, arguing the occupation is not as detrimental as many argue. Israeli Public Diplomacy and Diaspora Affairs Minister Yuli Edelstein and Eitan Dogat, head of the branch of the Israeli government in charge of the occupation (COGAT), have quoted figures showing annual growth as high as 9.6 percent in the West Bank.

These figures, promoted also by Palestinian Authority officials, come from World Bank reports, but as Palestinian economist Ibrahim Shikaki points out, behind this veneer of prosperity is an uncomfortable reality.

In September, the West Bank was rocked by anti-austerity protests, directed against Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, the chief architect of the Palestinian economy since the Oslo Accords. By signing the Paris Protocols, part of Oslo, the Palestinian Authority agreed to a forced dependency on the Israeli economy. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu termed the situation “Peace through Prosperity.” The Real News’ Lia Tarachansky and independent journalist Max Blumenthal look at what lies behind this policy.