American-Palestinian businessman Sam Bahour, living in Ramallah, writes in Haaretz today another version of his recent analysis criticizing “feel-good plans” to solve the Middle East morass by providing jobs (primarily factory assembly-line jobs) to Palestinians in the West Bank to invest them into salaries, pensions (and, ultimately, even mortagages — something previously unheard-of in Palestinian areas) as a way to make impossible, for financial considerations, any further resistance to the continued effects of occupation, and continued denial of human and political rights.
Sam notes that “These mega-employment projects present a serious challenge to those who are striving to build an independent and viable economic foundation for a future Palestinian state. Because the zones will be dependent on Israeli cooperation to function, and because they will exist within an Israeli-designed economic system that ensures Palestinian dependence on Israel, they cannot form the basis of a sovereign economy. Relying on them will perpetuate the status quo of dependency and risks further entrenching Israel’s occupation, albeit possibly under another name, like statehood … Although the sectorial theme of each zone, assuming it has already been decided, has not been made public, if existing zones (such as the maquiladoras in Mexico, or those in Jamaica ) are any indication, the zones in Palestine will host “dirty” businesses – those that are pollution-prone and sweatshop-oriented. Jordan’s Qualified Industrial Zones provide a regional example. Like many others around the world, they are notorious for their exploitative labor practices. According to two consultants to the Israeli government, the West Bank zones, several of which are already under construction, are planned to employ 150,000-200,000 Palestinians, nearly the same number that used to travel daily to Israel for work before the second intifada”.
His analysis in Haaretz can be read in full here.