Palestine Under Occupation III: Mapping Israel’s Policies and Practices and Their Economic Repercussions in the Occupied Palestinian Territory – Occupied Palestinian Territory


Key messages

• Israel’s policies and practices constitute a matrix of control and domination: control of the land and domination of the people.

• Israel’s matrix of control and domination has undermined the Palestinian economy, leading to its gutting, as well as an asymmetrical dependence on Israel.

• The establishment of a Palestinian state and the achievement of the SDGs have become almost impossible.

• Israel’s matrix of control and domination results in serious violations of international law and deprives Palestinians of their fundamental right to self-determination.

• A rights-based approach to the question of Palestine, grounded in international law and human rights, has become vital.

• The international community has a responsibility to help the Palestinian people reduce their economic dependence on Israel, improve their resilience and achieve sustainable development.

• Peace can only be achieved through the full application of international law and the principles of justice, and the full enjoyment by the peoples of the region of their rights.


Since 1967, Israel’s policies and practices in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT) have destroyed the Palestinian society, economy and environment. They are at the heart of Israel’s overall strategy to fragment the Palestinian people, to maintain its domination over them and to prevent and anticipate any questioning of the “Jewish character” of the State of Israel. By maintaining a military occupation and preventing the establishment of a viable Palestinian State in accordance with international law, these policies and practices and their repercussions blatantly deny the equal rights of Israelis and Palestinians. This study shows in some detail that they constitute a matrix of control and domination:

Control the land. The administrative, political and physical fragmentation of the OPT has been instrumental in entrenching Israeli control over Palestinian lands and resources: the West Bank is divided into three areas A, B and C; East Jerusalem is totally separate from the rest of the OPT; and the Gaza Strip is blocked off and isolated from the West Bank. Measures used by Israel for direct acquisition and control of land include formal annexation, declaration of land as state land, closure of large areas as military zones, seizure of “absentee property”, confiscation for apparent public needs and the declaration of private land as unregistered public land. Furthermore, Israel exclusively controls and exploits natural resources, including aquifers and water sources, the Dead Sea and its minerals, and Gaza’s maritime areas, while denying the Palestinians the ability to exploit the gas field. of Gaza and restricting the fishing zone off Gaza. Meanwhile, Israeli settlements in the West Bank serve as a means to control resources, limit movement and retard Palestinian development.

dominate the people. To maintain its dominance over the Palestinians under its occupation, Israel employs a two-pronged approach: population control and suppression of all forms of resistance. Israel’s control of the population register allows it to impose demographic fragmentation and control, using various residency status regulations. This is accompanied by the imposition of movement restrictions between the OPT and Israel and within the OPT. A clear manifestation of this is the revocation of the residency status of Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem, which amounts to de facto expulsion, while in the rest of the West Bank, Israel’s strict regime for movement permits, residency and construction for Palestinians is compounded by violence and intimidation and has created a coercive environment that seeks to displace people in Area C of the West Bank. Moreover, Israel suppresses all forms of Palestinian resistance to its policies, practices and the occupation in general, including the disproportionate use of force, characterized by recurrent military assaults on the Gaza Strip; military orders controlling the lives of Palestinians in the West Bank; several forms of collective punishment; excessive and arbitrary arrests, detentions and imprisonments amounting to institutionalized ill-treatment and torture. Thus, the system of domination over the Palestinian people includes demographic fragmentation, subjugation, suppression and control of daily life.

These sets of policies complement and interact with each other to form a matrix of control and domination.

The backwardness of economic development is an expected result of Israeli policies of control over land and domination over the people. Furthermore, Israel continues to de-develop the OPT and gut its economy, through a web of measures, including the deliberate destruction of the means of production, primarily in the Gaza Strip; an imposed customs union; a restrictive permit system in Zone C of the Wet Bank; constraints on the use of natural resources; restrictions on the importation of goods through nearly arbitrary dual-use lists; obstacles to banking and financial operations; and barriers to accessing foreign markets.

After 1967, Israel’s strategy regarding the Palestinian economy was based on the subordination and partial integration of Palestinian markets through the free movement of people and goods between Israel and the OPT and by allowing Palestinian workers to enter in the Israeli economy. While labor integration increased income inflows during the period 1967-1973, it weakened Palestinian productive sectors. In the late 1980s, Israel adopted a different strategy, that of movement restrictions and segregation of the Palestinian economy, which led to de-development through a large allocation of resources for settlements, especially after the Oslo Accords.

The study mapped policies, practices and their eviscerating economic repercussions in an input-output matrix, showing how Israeli policies hamper the productivity of each sector of the economy and prevent the expansion of economic activities. Underdevelopment of productive capacity led to a contraction of agriculture and manufacturing, with agriculture’s share of GDP falling from 33.2% in 1972 to 8.1% in 2019, and that of mines, quarries and industry languishing at less than 15%. percent. The process of de-development and the deterioration of the living conditions of the Palestinians have increased their need to work in Israel and to depend on the products supplied by the Israeli markets. Indeed, Israel, through the matrix of control and domination, has eviscerated the Palestinian economy, locked it into a relationship of dependency and subjected it to Israeli dictate.

Based on the mapping of Israeli policies and practices and their economic repercussions, the study offers three sets of policy options for the Palestinian Authority and the international community to mitigate the impact of the Israeli occupation on the economy. Palestinian. These policy options are categorized according to their objectives: improving Palestinian access to their resources and infrastructure; reduce the dependence of the Palestinian economy on Israel; and support the tenacity and resilience of the Palestinian people in the OPT.

However, the effectiveness of any policy remains questionable as Israel continues to violate Palestinian rights to their resources, infrastructure and markets. Israeli strategies and policies towards the OPT have constituted violations of international humanitarian law and international human rights law and persist at the expense of the individual and collective rights of the Palestinian people. Israel has violated the principle of inadmissibility of the annexation of occupied territory.

Furthermore, it is becoming more and more evident that it also violates the law of the occupation; namely, the principle of temporality of a belligerent occupation. Indeed, Israeli policies and practices, including those that eviscerate the Palestinian economy, are incompatible with the Charter of the United Nations and the main concepts of international law: the right of peoples to self-determination and the prohibition on acquiring territories by force.

Thus, an approach to the question of Palestine based on international law and rights has become vital. Such an approach would be based on human rights, including the right to self-determination, the right to development and the right of return of Palestinian refugees, while requiring the international community to take responsibility for impose a rights-based framework by holding Israel accountable, ending its impunity and forcing it to respect international law.

Michael A. Bynum