‘Adel Samara, The Political Economy of the West Bank 1967-1987 ‒ From Peripheralization to Development, published by Khamsln, 184pp.
This is one of very few published analyses of the structural relationship between the Zionist state and the territories it has occupied since 1987. ‘Adel Samara provides a review of the various forms of settler colonialism, demonstrating the uniqueness of that imposed upon the West Bank. This he does by examining theoretical models in the light of the historical development of Zionism and its relation to the imperialist centres, including the evolution of the Israeli economy and its dependence on the US.
This done, Samara embarks on a detailed empirical study of the methods used to peripheralize the primarily agricultural economy of the West Bank. Drawing on numerous sources, he depicts the breadth and depth of the disarticulation of a Palestinian capitalism already stunted under Hashemite rule. Particularly interesting is his examination of the Military Orders, a principal tool used in separating the Palestinians from their land and workshops. He convincingly demonstrates the importance of the occupying army in achieving the economic aims of the occupation and not merely policing the subject population. But The Political Economy of the West Bank is not simply a nationalist text. The author explains the role of the Palestinian merchants, large landowners and compradors as tools of Jordan and then of the Zionist occupation, and so as agents of the peripheralization process, whether by marketing imported produce or by mediating in the export of labour.
With the intifada putting Palestinian national rights near the top of the international agenda, Samara’s indication of the dangers inherent in “modernization” and “welfarist” options for the West Bank is timely. He takes a critical look at the attempts, external and internal, to orient the vestiges (and seeds) of Palestinian production towards Europe and the US, rejecting these as further variants of peripheralization. Finally, he begins the urgent task of sketching a model for micro-economic development which will orient the economic efforts of Palestinians under occupation towards the goal of post-liberation development.
The Political Economy of the West Bank not only develops and stimulates a number of important debates, it also constitutes a useful compilation of data, rendering it a valuable read for those concerned with the Palestine of today and the Palestine of tomorrow.
[see also Adel Samara’s article, under the same title, that was published in Khamsin no. 14, 1989]