Pockets of Privilege: A Historical, Spatial, and Political Economy Analysis of Industrial Zones in Palestine

Rohan Advani

Abstract: This article argues that industrial zones in Palestine do not effectively promote Palestinian economic development. The article rests on a historical, spatial, and economic analysis of the political economy of industrial zones in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. By examining the nature and functionality of these zones through different methodological lenses, it is clear that the industrial zones in Palestine fail on two levels. Firstly, as successful export-processing zones and employment generating programs, the zones are unable to deliver their intended results. On the other hand, even when they do succeed, their performance is limited and does not contribute to a holistic, democratic, and egalitarian notion of economic development. In fact, the benefits accrued are often channeled to Palestinian elites and foreign capital, at the expense of popular Palestinian economic needs such as viable employment, healthcare, housing, food security, and domestic investment. Moreover, the zones work well within the confines of the Israeli Occupation and seem to entrench aspects of its overarching architecture. Lastly, this article argues that industrial zones in Palestine are elements in a wider political and economic project that is being increasingly defined by political, economic, and spatial fragmentation. The emerging social topography is in fact a spatial effect produced by the convergence of Palestinian capitalist class power, international financial institutions (IFIs), the Israeli Occupation, and the expansion of foreign capital. The effect is a future Palestinian state that is highly undemocratic, corrupt, and rife with inequality.

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