Palestinian Studies

2014 Workshop

Shir Hever

Economic Researcher, Alternative Information Center

Privatization of the Occupation: The Core Masked as the Periphery

Following the 1973 war and especially in the wake of the 1987 intifada, the occupation of the OPT evolved into the central task of the Israeli military and security forces. This fact is rarely acknowledged by Israeli decision-makers. The economic burden imposed by Israel’s security expenditure has given rise to internal pressure to reduce expenditures. Consequentially, the Israeli Ministry of Defense pursued the privatization of peripheral functions of the security forces. Privatization (especially outsourcing) has been prevalent in functions related to the occupation, because those were defined as peripheral. The privatization of checkpoints in the West Bank and around the Gaza Strip, the reliance on UAVs supplied and maintained by private companies and the use of surveillance equipment and databases operated by private companies has given rise to a private security sector. Israel’s prominence in the “homeland security” market can be traced to the attempts of senior Israeli officers and ministers to reduce the involvement of Israel’s military and police in the occupation. Those attempts were not successful, but they have prompted the development of specialized equipment, training services and security services which are in demand in regions of high inequality, in which repression of protest is of special importance. The ties between the government-owned and privately-owned security companies in Israel and the economic and political elite contribute to a reciprocal relations, in which business interests play an increasingly role in the formulation of Israeli policies regarding the control of the OPT, and in which such decisions influence the economic results of the security companies. This paper will demonstrate the interaction between neoliberal economic policies and control and surveillance technologies which has developed in the process of privatization of security by the Israeli government.

Shir Hever is an economic researcher in the Alternative Information Center, a Palestinian-Israeli organization active in Jerusalem and Beit-Sahour. Hever researches the economic aspect of the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territory, some of his research topics include the international aid to the Palestinians and to Israel, the effects of the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories on the Israeli economy, and the boycott, divestment and sanctions campaigns against Israel. His work also includes giving lectures and presentations on the economy of the occupation. He is a graduate student at the Freie Universität in Berlin, and researches the privatization of security in Israel. His first book: Political Economy of Israel’s Occupation: Repression Beyond Exploitation, was published by Pluto Press.