Sami Abdel-Shafi, senior fellow for the Middle East and North Africa program at UK think tank Chatham House, urged the EU to change its current approach towards ways of boosting Palestinian economic development being ultimately hindered by ‘dysfunctional peace process’ as he explained in a new research paper he recently published.
This, he said, will help improve the quality of life of Palestinian citizens in Gaza and the West Bank and therefore, restore Palestinian dignity through separating Palestinian economic development from the peace process.
"Economic development is not a substitute for political rights. As an educated and entrepreneurial people, Palestinians are capable of creating a viable economy that would support a sovereign state unreliant on foreign aid”, Abdel-Shafi stated.
He clarified that "the majority of EU funding has been dedicated to supporting the Palestinian Authority (PA) through an unsustainable economic situation and to supporting the humanitarian needs of Palestinians instead of their development."
Correspondingly, Abdel-Shafi elaborates on the role of current policies constrained by political relations with Israel in undermining the Palestinian Authority’s attempts for ‘economic self-reliance’ while causing high rates of poverty and unemployment.
He believes that altering EU policy towards Palestinian economics will, in fact, enhance the security aspirations of both sides of the conflicts encouraging them to observe international standards.
"This includes addressing Israel's occupation and its 'layering' of measures under the name of security that undermine Palestinian economic development. A crippled Palestinian economy does not make Israel safer, but it meanwhile diminishes Palestinian dignity and hope for the future."
In his research, Abdel-Shafi referred to a widespread letter by the European Eminent Persons Group (EEPG) for the High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice-President of the European Commission, Federica Mogherini, that urged the adoption of a new approach to EU attempts of resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
The letter included a number of recommendations such as resuming peace negotiations with a mandatory deadline and recognition of equality of parties involved as well as close and proactive involvement in the process of encouraging Palestinian reconciliation as a precondition of the final conflict resolution.
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