Closed for Business: Movement and Economies in Hebron

By Padraigin O'Flynn
Submitted to Session S5055 (Undergraduate Research Poster Session, 2017 Annual Meeting
Pol Science
19th-21st Centuries; Arab-Israeli Conflict; Colonialism; Political Economy;
This paper evaluates the economic struggles of Hebron, one of the most contentious cities in the West Bank, through a historical lens. The city center was once a thriving center of the Hebron’s economy as well as the greater Palestinian economy, but settlements, curfews, and IDF-imposed movement restrictions have turned the historic part of the city into a “ghost town” because it has closed over 1800 Palestinian businesses. Consequently, this suffocated the economic production of the city as a whole. Periods of sizable economic growth and decline have followed key historical events in the city, and this paper analyzes each separately in an attempt to connect the effects of these events on Hebron’s economic conditions. Critical years analyzed include before and after the Ibrahimi Mosque massacre in 1994, the implementation of the Hebron Protocol in 1997, and after the outbreak of the Second Intifada in 2000.

The paper aims to achieve two goals. First, it provides a historical background of the situation in Hebron. Second, it references data from Labor Force Surveys conducted by the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics between 1995 and 2005 to quantitatively analyze the economic effects of movement restrictions implemented following these critical junctures. It also draws on data collected from my field visit to the city as well as from an original report by B’Tselem. In doing so, this paper illuminates the severe consequences of movement restrictions and draws conclusions that show what steps could be taken to revitalize Hebron’s economy by reversing such restrictions.