A recent Financial Timesprofile of a budding Palestinian brewery noted the difficulties the Sayej brothers of Birzeit confronted when they attempted to launch Palestine’s second beer: “The Palestinians do not control their own borders, and transport is expensive because of the logistical challenges involved in clearing Israeli checkpoints and moving goods through the Israeli port of Ashdod.” In the end, the brothers were able to commence production, but their experience illustrates the structural hurdles and arbitrary nature of Israeli restrictions that Palestinian entrepreneurs must contend with as a result of the occupation. It is also a very clear demonstration of the inextricability of the economic and political challenges before the Palestinians, which collapse into the same channel either to advance or retard progress.
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For our May Special Focus – Political Economy of Palestine, we present a series of our articles from the Journal of Palestine Studies that investigate and recount the trajectory of the Palestinian economy since Oslo. Together, these articles, inter alia, address the privatization of the occupation whereby Israeli middlemen act as arbiters between Israeli security forces and Palestinian economic elites, clearly illustrating where power and control lie; the PA’s deep embrace of neoliberalism, which has given rise to the large economic disparities typical of such regimens; and we include an article on the “Arab Economy” inside Israel. This last article reminds us that Palestinian well-being, and the meaningful self-determination necessary to pursue it, is a common struggle for Palestinians whether in Israel, the West Bank, or Gaza.