72 Percent Of Aid To Palestine Ends Up ‘In Israeli Hands’

by Kit O’Connell, MintPress News, March 14, 2016

According to the
report’s author, the study has ‘tremendous moral implications’ which suggest
that donors to Palestine may become unwitting ‘accomplices to Israel’s crimes.’ 

Palestinian children play in fallen rain in front of their home following a rainstorm, in Beit Lahiya, northern Gaza Strip, Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2015. Sewage and other critical infrastructure has been rendered virtually unusable following decades of Israeli bombing campaigns. (AP Photo/Adel Hana)
money to Palestine ends up benefiting the Israeli economy, and may even help
perpetuate the occupation, according to an analysis published last year.
Published by Aid Watch Palestine, a
Palestinian NGO that scrutinizes the spending of foreign relief money,
September 2015 study by Shir Hever
that at least 72 percent of foreign aid actually ends up back in Israeli hands.
Palestine’s economy
is dependent on foreign aid
, although foreign
nations sometimes pledge more than they actually give. The 
Bank reported
 that of $3.5 billion pledged to
Palestine in 2015, “only 35 percent has been disbursed, $881 million less than
what was supposed to be disbursed so far” by September.
“[D]espite over two decades of sustained
aid, the occupation has not come to an end and Palestinians are not yet
sovereign in their own country,” Hever noted in the report. “The question that
arises is not only whether aid is effective, but whether it also causes harm.”

Rather than offering long-term relief, the
report revealed that most aid is either “diverted,” meaning it never reaches
its destination because of “taxes, transportation fees, etc,” or it’s
“subverted,” meaning that, even though it ends up in the hands of the
Palestinian Authority, it’s spent in such a way that ultimately benefits
Israel, including purchases of Israeli goods to fund repair efforts and to
rebuild infrastructure.
In an email on Tuesday, Hever told
MintPress News he was not calling on donor countries to halt their aid to
Palestine. Rather, he said the purpose of the report was to help readers
“understand that it is not possible to separate aid from politics.” Donors
should “take responsibility for their projects” and how their money is spent.
“I think we should all look at the Freedom
Flotilla movement, which is sending aid to Gaza based on the needs of the
population there, without going through Israeli customs, without using Israeli
currency and most importantly — while making a strong and clear political
message,” he said. “The big donor agencies cannot use the same methods as the
Freedom Flotilla, but they have much to learn from that movement.”
In the report, Hever admitted that exact
figures for how much aid is diverted or subverted are unavailable, so he
produced his estimate by comparing the Israeli and Palestinian economies.
“The prolonged trade imbalance between
Israel and OPT [Occupied Palestinian Territories] is a testament to the
economic dependency of Palestinians on the Israeli economy, but it also poses
an economic puzzle,” he wrote. After eliminating typical causes of trade
imbalances, such as debt or foreign investment, he concludes:
argument presented here is that international aid can explain the origin of the
funding of the trade deficit and of the balance of payments. Aid enables a
consistent trade imbalance, which has a substantial impact on both the
Palestinian and the Israeli economies.”
Due to years of attacks on Palestinian infrastructure and
ongoing blockade on crucial tools and
, Hever reported “many of the goods and
services required for aid projects are simply unavailable in the Palestinian
market and must be sourced from Israeli companies,” resulting in the subversion
of substantial quantities of aid.
Because foreign aid turns Palestine into
“an effective export sector for the Israeli economy,” Hever suggests that aid
money could actually prolong the occupation of Palestine. “International aid
efforts ultimately reinforce the Israeli economy and subsidize the Israeli
government in financing the occupation.”
In an
October 2015 response
 to Hever’s report also published by
Aid Watch Palestine, Peter Falk, an international law scholar who has written
extensively about Palestine, suggested that “donors should be encouraged to be
more vigilant and aware of these realities.”
The benefits of aid to a needy population
must be weighed carefully against the way they also aid Israel’s bottom line,
he said, adding that “[p]ressure exerted through exposure of Israeli practices
in the media” could also benefit Palestinians.
In his report, though, Hever wondered:
“The question arises of whether the Israeli government would end the occupation
if aid ceased? … Or would they remain indifferent to a mass humanitarian
disaster that could cost the lives of thousands of Palestinians?”
And he warned that his analysis places
considerable moral responsibility on donors
are not themselves the occupiers of the Palestinians … but decades of
acquiescing to Israeli demands and conditions on the disbursement of aid have
turned them into accomplices to Israel’s crimes.”