Political economy is concerned with institutions, relations of power, and social conflict and struggle. A key task of political economy is to historicize and (re)politicize economics, as politics and economics are deeply inter-related and reside in (and emerge from) particular social, spatial, and historical locations. Political economy, therefore, aims to denaturalize capitalism in order to obtain a more robust analysis of settler colonialism, racial capitalism, and neoliberalism.
In the case of occupied Palestine, a political economy approach matters when analysing the current situation, as it unveils critical elements of both the material and discursive (visible and invisible) expressions of power. It [a political economy approach] also underscores that an approach to economics that does not consider the political—a de-politicized economics—is inadequate to understanding the situation in occupied Palestine.
In my latest co-edited volume, Political Economy of Palestine: Critical, Interdisciplinary, and Decolonial Perspectives, co-edited with Dr. Tariq Dana and Dr. Timothy Seidel, published in May 2021 by Palgrave Macmillan, and composed of 14 chapters, we offer an in-depth contextualization of the Palestinian political economy, analyse the political economy of integration, fragmentation, and inequality, and explore and problematize multiple sectors and themes of political economy in the absence of sovereignty.
A key aspect that emerged as part of this book and the collective scholarly effort, is related to the utmost need to study the political economy of Palestine through critical, interdisciplinary, and decolonial perspectives. We argue that using critical, interdisciplinary, and decolonial perspectives on political economy sharpens a focus on resistance and aids in the exploration of embodied forms of political subjectivity, especially in neoliberal, settler colonial contexts. Such approach provides a more robust framework to understand the complex dynamics of the development process, and illustrates why, how, and by whom development is denied in Palestine.
Let me explain what do we mean by critical, interdisciplinary, and decolonial perspectives.
A critical approach to political economy challenges prevailing neoliberal logics and structures that reproduce racial capitalism, and explores how the political economy of occupied Palestine is shaped by processes of accumulation by exploitation and dispossession from both Israel and global business, as well as from Palestinian elites.
An interdisciplinary approach to studying political economy helps reveal the subtle and complex dynamics that cannot be simply detected by a single discipline. Indeed, political economy as a critical interdisciplinary method has become of great epistemological, theoretical, empirical, and analytical significance to unpacking the intertwining relationship of colonialism, exploitation, nationalism, and patriarchy within the dynamics and trajectories of capitalism.
A decolonial approach to Palestinian political economy foregrounds struggles against neoliberal and settler colonial policies and institutions, and aids in the de-fragmentation of Palestinian life, land, and political economy whose histories of de-development over all of Palestine can be traced back for over a century. This approach also underscores the need for scholarship that demonstrate an epistemic and political commitment to decolonization.
How would such a political economy approach impact the development process in Palestine, especially in relation to all international aid poured into its economy that totalled over US$40 billion since 1993 but failed the Palestinian people miserably?
It is evident by now that the aid flow, however big it becomes, will never be effective if it continues to be poured into the existing skewed and distorted political and economic frameworks. In fact, more money can lead to more harm when spent in an improper intervention. Similarly, technical solutions alone, regardless of how good they may seem on paper, will always fall short of addressing the real problems Palestinians face, if they avoid addressing the central political realities of the so-called Palestinian-Israeli conflict.
It is therefore inevitable, in line with the proposed political economy approach in our recent book, that a shift should take place in prevailing development thought, from one that considers development as a technocratic, apolitical, and neutral approach to approaches that recognize structures of power and relations of colonial dominance, some of which rearticulate processes of development as linked to the struggle for rights, resistance, and emancipation.
Yet, even if that shift has taken place at a scholarly level, it has not yet translated to change in policy by the international donor community, or even by authorities on the ground in the Occupied Palestinian Territory who receive aid funding. It is past time to adopt a political economy approach that matters, and to dismiss other well-trodden approaches that harm.
 Click Here to check the content of the book Political Economy of Palestine: Critical, Interdisciplinary, and Decolonial Perspectives. Click Here to download the Book’s Introductory Chapter, and Click Here to Download Chapter 10 of the Book. A Summary of the book can be found here.