Disrupting Development, Reclaiming Solidarity: The Anti-Politics of Humanitarianism
Originally developed for the Center for Development Studies at Birzeit University in 2011, this paper examines the humanitarian assistance that flooded the occupied Palestinian territories after the beginning of the second intifada (2000–2005). It provides a critical analysis of the international development aid that was directed at Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, where the Oslo process was territorialized, to the exclusion of the vast majority of the Palestinian people. Today, Palestinians are challenging the dominant development discourse and neoliberal economic model set in place by the Oslo Accords, wherein development recast Israeli settler colonialism as an externality, which the putative Palestinian state-building project would transcend. Returning to Yusif Sayigh's view that development cannot occur under settler colonialism, Palestinians are articulating alternatives to the Oslo post-conflict paradigm that emphasize self-reliance and resistance. The discussion that follows situates itself as a contribution to this process by interrogating the anti-political bias of humanitarianism and charting how indigenous Palestinians are building alternatives to food aid.