A deep dive into the realities, prospects of the social market model in the Palestinian economy

Institute of Law symposium draws legal and economic experts, analyzes the Palestinian free market model

Economic and legal experts explored the legislative and economic realities of a social market concept within the Palestinian market in a symposium entitled “Legal and Economic Opportunities and Challenges of the Social Market in Palestine.” 

Part of the “Economy and the Law” project funded by the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung, the symposium, held on May 9-10, 2018, was organized by the Institute of Law at Birzeit University. 

The event featured Dr. Marcus Marktanner, an associate professor of Economics at Kennsaw State University; Dr. Nasser Abdelkarim, a Palestinian economic expert; Marc Frings, head of the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung’s Palestinian office, and a number of legal scholars and researchers. 

Jamil Salem, an academic researcher at the Institute of Law, delivered the institute’s welcoming remarks, noting that the symposium discusses a number of themes that relate to the Palestinian economy from economic and legal viewpoints, such as the historical context of the social market economy, challenges to the Palestinian economy, and the development and realities of economic regulations on a social market economy in Palestine. 

The first day of the symposium saw three keynote addresses. The first, by Marktanner, revolved around the historical context of the social market, and the developments that happened in the 1930s that altered economic thought. 

“The social market,” explained Marktanner, “is harmonizing the needs of social development with the concept of free market. A social market can be incentivized by focusing on three main concepts, that of the human, justice, and the role of the state.” 

Abdelkarim highlighted the challenges that beset the Palestinian economy, saying that there were two kinds of challenges: external and internal. The external challenges, he said, were the continuous deficit in the Palestinian Authority’s budget, the reliance on the Israeli Occupation, and the dependence on foreign aid. 

“The internal challenges are the influence of the Palestinian Authority on the market. The adopted model for the Palestinian economy is that of the free market, which should entail economic justice and growth. This, however, hasn’t been the case, and there have been no studies done on the results of adopting a free market approach,” noted Abdelkarim. 

Mahmoud Alawna and Alaa Hamad, two legal researchers at the Institute of Law, reviewed the development of economic-social regulations in Palestine. The two researchers gave a historical overview of the economic regulations in the Palestinian legal system, the economic reforms undertaken by the Palestinian Authority, the Palestinian National Policy Agenda 2017-2022, and the chasm in legislative action after the Palestinian divide. 

The second day of the symposium featured a keynote address by Marktanner on the principles of economic policy, the most important of which, he commented, were the distribution of duties, competition in the market, independent decision-making organizations, and a separation between the legal and economic leaderships.