Monday, September 18, 2006

Stability a must in Gaza Strip

The dire poverty of the Gaza Strip that has resulted from the suspension of funds to the Palestinian government by Israel, the United States, and European Union exemplifies the importance of having the infrastructure of a legitimately recognized state in economic development. The lack of such institutions renders the Palestinian Authority virtually ineffective without the financial assistance of outside states.

During the years prior to the first Intifada (meaning ‘uprising’ in Arabic) in 1987, Palestinian society experienced social transformations that facilitated the development of embryonic municipal and national institutions. The resistance movement during this time was largely non-violent and centered on the creation of grassroots organizations, for exampling farming cooperatives and health care committees, which were intended to break the Palestinians reliance upon Israel for livelihood.

Initial success was met with euphoria as the holy grail of the movement, attaining an autonomous state, seemed at the time, a dawning reality. The new leadership created the entire infrastructure, albeit in infancy, of a fully functioning municipality.  Ultimately though, the political underpinnings of these social programs caused them to fragment. The new elite that had constructed the diffuse network of institutions did not possess the ability to consolidate them into a force capable of maintaining power and building a state. 

The lack of effective institutions creates frustration at the lack of bargaining power, vis-à-vis states like Israel and the US and makes security a nearly insurmountable hurdle. The cycle of violence which results, has proved difficult to interrupt. So long as infrastructure development is lacking, the prospect of a successful settlement remains gloomy.

Lydia Pfaff
DI columnist

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