The Hithabrut-Tarabut movement calls for the immediate annulment of the Paris Protocol and the establishment of an independent Palestinian economy, an economy that will not be beholden to the needs of the economy of the occupying power. On August 1st, the Israeli and Palestinian public discovered that the Palestinian Authority and the State of Israel signed a secret agreement revising the Paris Protocol, a key document that determines the economic relations between the two entities. To this very day, the public has not been presented with all of the information concerning this revision.

The Protocol is the economic addendum to the Oslo Agreements, which formalizes economic relations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority by placing both entities within the same customs and currency sphere.

Seventeen years after its signing, what was supposed to be a temporary document has become a means of subjugating the Palestinian market to the interests of Israeli and international corporations and of maintaining a constant state of underdevelopment. The consequences for the Palestinian economy and for Palestinian national aspirations have been disastrous.

Palestinian workers at the Tul Karem checkpoint.

Palestinian workers at the Tul Karem checkpoint. Photo: ActiveStills/Yotam Ronen.

The principles of reciprocity and freedom of movement between the Authority and Israel, on which the original agreement was based, were never fully actualized. The importation of cheap labor from Turkey, Roumania and East Asia has made Palestinian workers superfluous, and their ability to enter Israel has been severely reduced by use of an arbitrary and oppressive permit regime. In parallel, Israeli corporations and goods operate freely in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. The checkpoints, the separation wall, the ongoing siege and a long list of procedures and laws block the entrance of Palestinian goods into Israel almost completely, and are presented to the Israeli public and the world as “quality control,” or “security measures.” The Palestinian economy, unable to develop local production, is a captive consumer market for Israeli corporations and manufacturers.

The Protocol disconnected the Palestinian economy from the Arab world, a market which comprises the most immediate and natural destination for Palestinian exports and imports. The Protocol imposed the Israeli shekel on the Palestinian economy as well as total dependence on the Bank of Israel and the Israeli monetary system. As a result, the Palestinian public has no ability to democratically influence the fiscal policies of the Palestinian Authority.

And that’s not all. The Protocol granted Israel the authority to collect all export and import taxes from Palestinians. Throughout the years, Israel did not hesitate to use these funds, which comprise an essential income for the Authority, as a means of blackmail, to create political pressure by delaying the transfer of the funds and causing economic strangulation.

Economic independence is the first step in achieving Palestinian sovereignty. No sovereignty is possible under the Protocol, which maintains the underdevelopment and dependence of the Palestinian economy. Therefore, we object to continued Israeli economic control of the occupied Palestinian territories and call for the immediate annulment of the Paris Protocol.