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Abstract: This is a transcript of an event held on 5 October at Chatham House. The panellists, drawn from the Middle East and North Africa Programme's regional experts, examined the latest round of negotiations aimed at resolving the Israel-Palestine conflict.
As the latest round of negotiations aimed at resolving the Israel-Palestine conflict was embarked on in September 2010, the regional ramifications of the much-interrupted peace process have never appeared more important. State actors close to the conflict such as Egypt, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon, and non-state actors such as Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in Gaza, all have a stake in the outcome of the peace talks. Together with the wider Arab League membership and Iran, not all of them wish the process to succeed, or succeed on the terms envisaged by the US and its allies in the European Union.
This panel drawn from the Middle East and North Africa Programme's regional experts will examine what is at stake for the regional neighbours of Israel and the Palestinians. What influence have they had over the initial progress of the negotiations? Are their actions critical in helping or hindering the outcome of the bilateral talks? What alternatives or reactions might they envisage should this latest attempt at peace fail?
Abstract: A popular anecdote in the Middle East, coined by former U.S. Secretary of State
Henry Kissinger in the 1970s, is that ‘no war is possible without Egypt, and no
peace possible without Syria’ - Daoudy, 2008:215 -. This paper will focus mainly
on the prospect of peace between Israel and Syria.
Despite some brief interludes of optimism in the early 1990s, the history of
conflict and mistrust between Israel and Syria, the ongoing occupation of the Golan
Heights, and periodic hostilities mean that a durable peace between them remains
a distant prospect. Throughout the last two decades of official and unofficial peace
talks between Israel and Syria, the position and concerns of each party to reach
peace have become evident. The Syrians insist on a full Israeli withdrawal from the
Golan, captured in 1967, down to the 4 June 1967 line, which would allow Syrian
access to the Sea of Galilee/Lake Tiberias. Israeli leaders have stated their demand
of keeping the Syrians off the water of the Lake and their intention to withdraw along
the international border line of 1923, although it seems at least some of them do
realise that the Syrian pre-condition of full withdrawal has to be fulfilled. Indeed,
the stumbling block obstructing the implementation of an Israeli-Syrian peace deal
is the disputed area between the 1923 international borderline and the 1967 pre-war
- 4 June 1967 - line. Although small in size, this area carries a most significant and
strategic position involving water access, sovereignty and control. This has been
regarded as the sticking point through the two-decade period of negotiations
- Muslih, 1993:613; Renger, 1998:49 -
Recently, the American administration had taken up the idea of creating a
peace park in the Golan Heights as a way of resolving the Israeli-Syrian conflict
particularly in the area between the 1923 and 1967 lines in the north-eastern
sector of Lake Tiberias.
This paper will explore this idea, which in the past has been put forward
by government officials and political analysts alike as a possible means to
accommodate Syrian and Israeli concerns. In order to determine the viability of
this project I shall analyse the literature regarding the utilisation of natural resources
both for conflict propagation and as catalysts for lasting cooperation and conflict
resolution. Then I will present a brief history of the Syrian-Israeli peace process and
describe why previous peace talks have failed. Finally, I shall describe the status
quo in the Golan Heights today and the discourse of environmental peace-building
through the suggested proposal of a peace park along the shores of Lake Tiberias.
I will argue that while a peace park is not the panacea to the conflict
existing today between Israel and Syria, within a context of comprehensive peace
agreements such a project can ameliorate the concerns of both parties and provide
a platform for confidence building and a way to overcome the problem of sovereignty
in this particular area.
Abstract: This paper assesses the United Nations’ role and potential in resolving the
Israeli Palestinian conflict. In its charter, conceived in 1945, the United Nations
set high standards and espoused lofty principles which enshrine its primary
responsibility: to maintain peace and security. Since then the geopolitical situation
has changed enormously. Yet, its performance since its inceptions has been weak,
and the UN has rarely been able to enforce its Charter’s principles into desired
This has been most obvious with respect to the conflict in the Middle East.
The United Nations played a decisive role in the establishment of the state of Israel
and has always had an indirect mediation involvement especially as some of its
Resolutions are the basis for any plausible accord.
To become a credible third party mediator, the United Nations has to amend
parts of its conduct regarding the situation in the Middle East. Israel has long argued
that the United Nations is inherently biased with an anti-Israeli agenda within its
corridors and organs structure. Palestinians however believe that the dominance of
the United States prevents the decision process from being utterly compelling.
Notwithstanding this paper argues that having exhausted previous alternatives
at third party mediation, US, EU, Quartet, the United Nations should undertake a
sincere leading mediation effort by granting Israel incentives such as normalisation
and indisputable international recognitions and to the Palestinians viable statehood
endorsed by the international community, not just as means of politicisation but as a
Abstract: Hamas and Fatah surprised all with their announcement of a reconciliation accord. What had been delayed since Hamas took over Gaza in 2007 and Palestinian Authority (PA) President Abbas asked Salam Fayyad to form a government in the West Bank was done in Cairo in hours. Shock was matched by uncertainty over what had been agreed and the course it would take. Would the factions produce a national strategy and unify fractured institutions? Or would the agreement codify the status quo? Even some of the more pessimistic scenarios were optimistic. Reconciliation stumbled at its first hurdle, naming a prime minister – though that is not the only divisive issue. Neither side wants to admit failure, so the accord is more likely to be frozen than renounced, leaving the door slightly ajar for movement. Palestinian parties but also the U.S. and Europe need to recognise that reconciliation is necessary to both minimise the risk of Israeli-Palestinian violence and help produce a leadership able to reach and implement peace with Israel.
The reconciliation accord signed on 4 May, is several agreements in one: the Egyptian Reconciliation Document, signed by Fatah in October 2009 but rejected by Hamas, which claimed it did not accurately reflect prior discussions; an additional five points, agreed on 27 April – the “Understandings”, which reflect many of Hamas’s reservations about the Egyptian Document; and unwritten, informal understandings, some of which undo provisions of the signed agreements. Taken together, they would alter politics in two ways. First, they provide for a single Palestinian government, with limited functions, of technocrats or independents, charged with unifying institutions and preparing for legislative, presidential and Palestine National Council elections in a year. Secondly, they call for a newly constituted, temporary leadership body operating in ambiguous partnership with the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO). The key was the decision to delay security reform until after the elections.
Abstract: From the beginning of 2005 to the end of 2010, at least 835 Palestinian minors were arrested and tried in military courts in the West Bank on charges of stone throwing. Thirty-four of them were aged 12-13, 255 were 14-15, 546 were 16-17. Only one of the 835 was acquitted; all the rest were found guilty.
Palestinian minors charged with criminal offenses are tried under the military legislation applying in the West Bank, which grants them very few of the special rights relating to persons their age. These protections, such as separation from adults during detention and imprisonment, are not always maintained. The same is true regarding protections prescribed in the military legislation for all suspects that are especially important in the case of minors, such as the right to consult with an attorney. The military legislation dealing with minors does not conform to international and Israeli law, which acknowledge that the minor’s age affects his criminal responsibility and the manner in which he experiences arrest, interrogation, and imprisonment, and which assume that these experiences might harm the minor’s development. Consequently, under international law and Israeli law, suspected offenders who are minors are given special protections, their parents must be allowed to be present during their child’s interrogation, and their arrest and imprisonment are viewed as a last resort.
In November 2009, the Military Youth Court was established in the West Bank. The court was empowered to hear offenses committed by minors under age 16. The military judges, on their own initiative, expanded the jurisdiction of the court to cover all minors, i.e., up to age 18. A few judges expressed, in their judgments, their belief that the military justice system should try minors in accordance with the standard practice in juvenile courts around the world. The president of the Military Court of Appeals added that the military courts must operate in the spirit of the Israeli Youth Law, even though the Youth Law itself is not incorporated in the military legislation. Despite these declarations, institution of the Military Youth Court has brought limited change, and serious infringement of the rights of minors appearing before it continues.
In preparing this report, B'Tselem interviewed 50 minors, who described the events from the moment they were arrested to the time they were released from jail.
Abstract: Barring a diplomatic breakthrough, Palestinian leaders plan to pursue a statehood resolution at the United Nations in September. Yet, the most striking feature of the debate surrounding this development is how little attention is being paid to the context of this initiative and what may happen the day after the UN vote. The UN move is as much a symptom as it is a cause, and unless understood in this way, the policy response is likely to be inadequate. Regardless of the outcome in New York, the downward spiral away from peacemaking seems to be intensifying at an alarming pace. In this Policy Note, former Israeli peace negotiator Tal Becker examines the scenarios most likely to unfold at the UN, the regional and domestic factors that have led the Palestinian leadership to pursue this course, and the various implications of potential UN recognition. The study examines different policy options available to the United States as it seeks a response that best balances conflicting interests and priorities, and best preserves the option of a negotiated solution in a volatile and changing regional environment.
Abstract: The Palestinian Center for Human Rights has prepared this
report for the July 2011 High-Level Segment of UN-ECOSOC. This
session will review the implementation of the education-related
Millennium Development Goals of the United Nations
Development Agenda, which pledged to achieve universal primary
schooling by 2015.
The right to education constitutes one of the most fundamental human
rights. It concerns the progressive development of the individual, both
as a person, and as a responsible citizen. It is one of the main factors
enabling an individual or family to raise their standard of living, and
is central to the progressive economic, social and cultural development
and growth of society. Specifically, with respect to the development
agenda, the 2000 Dakar Framework for Action highlighted that
"quality is at the heart of education", noting that "a quality education
is one that satisfies basic learning needs". Thus, PCHR note that the
education-related MDG can be said to contain a twin focus: on quality,
and universal accessibility.
As is widely acknowledged, the fulfillment of the MDGs is jeopardized
in conflict countries; within the 2000 Dakar Framework for Action,
governments identified conflict as "a major barrier towards attaining
Education for All". This is evident in the occupied Palestinian territory, where the achievement of the MDG on education – as with all
MDGs – is currently proving unattainable as a result of illegal policies
enacted as part of Israel’s longstanding occupation.
It is imperative that ECOSOC address the impact of Israel’s policies
and practices in the oPt – including occupied East Jerusalem – as they
are the core issue preventing the progressive achievement of the MDGs
and the human right to education.
PCHR note that Israel’s actions with regard to the right to education are
inconsistent with its binding obligations under international law. PCHR
asks that the international community take all appropriate measures to
end Israel’s repeated violations of international law which inhibit basic
human rights, including education, and development goals in the oPt.
The rule of international law must be upheld so that it can protect
civilians, and safeguard the rights of future generations.
Abstract: The Combating Terrorism Center is an independent educational and research institution based in the Department of Social Sciences at the United States Military Academy, West Point. The CTC Sentinel harnesses the Center’s global network of scholars and practitioners to understand and confront contemporary threats posed by terrorism and other forms of political violence.
This volume contains the following articles:
- The Death of Usama bin Ladin: Threat Implications for the U.S. Homeland, By Philip Mudd
- Terrorist Tactics in Pakistan Threaten Nuclear Weapons Safety, By Shaun Gregory
- The Syrian Uprising: Evaluating the Opposition, By Mahmud Hasan
- Can Al-Qa`ida Survive Bin Ladin’s Death? Evaluating Leadership Decapitation, By Jenna Jordan
- Hizb Allah’s Position on the Arab Spring, By Benedetta Berti
- Israel, Hizb Allah, and the Shadow of Imad Mughniyyeh, By Bilal Y. Saab
- The Taliban’s Conduct of Intelligence and Counterintelligence, By Ben Brandt
Abstract: This report studies the various means Israel uses to ensure its control of the Jordan Valley
and the northern Dead Sea area: the land, the water sources, the tourist sites, and the
natural resources. Chapter One provides statistics on the area and its residents. Chapters
Two and Three analyze the mechanisms Israel created to control large swaths of land and
the water sources. Chapters Four and Five deal with the restrictions Israel imposes on
Palestinian movement in the area and on building and development of Palestinian
communities. Chapter Six discusses other aspects of economic exploitation – agricultural
development, exploitation of Palestinian labor, control of tourist sites and natural
resources, and placement of Israeli environmental-nuisance disposal facilities in the area.
The last chapter of the report describes the prohibitions established in international
humanitarian law on exploitation of the resources of occupied territory.
Abstract: Women in Chechnya and Palestine do not become suicide bombers because they are Muslim.
Women in Chechnya and Palestine become suicide bombers because human security levels decrease
during long-term conflict and allow rogue collectives to gain power in the absence of authority. This
research explores how the experience of female suicide bombing is constructed as a response to
foreign occupation, how gender and religion are secondary concerns to supporters of violent
resistance, and how the history of human insecurity in Chechnya and Palestine has resulted in an
‘economy of conflict’ that has little stake in peace.
Abstract: The Examples from the Ground are concrete illustrations of ways in which a gender perspective has been integrated in different security sector institutions around the world. They range from measures to counter human trafficking in Kosovo, to women’s organisations’ involvement with security institutions in Nepal, to female parliamentarians’ contribution to post-conflict reconstruction in Rwanda. These examples can help policymakers, trainers and educators better understand and demonstrate the linkages between gender and SSR.
The examples are organised around the following nine themes, for which a short introduction is provided:
• Police Reform and Gender
• Defence Reform and Gender
• Justice Reform and Gender
• Penal Reform and Gender
• Border Management and Gender
• Parliamentary Oversight of the Security Sector and Gender
• National Security Policy-Making and Gender
• Civil Society Oversight of the Security Sector and Gender
• SSR Assessment, Monitoring and Evaluation and Gender
Individual examples can also be downloaded individually, in English or in French, at: http://gssrtraining.ch/index.php?option=com_content&view;=article&id;=4&Itemid;=131〈=en
Abstract: On Friday, I was joined at the White House by Prime Minister Netanyahu, and we reaffirmed -- (applause) -- we reaffirmed that fundamental truth that has guided our presidents and prime ministers for more than 60 years -- that even while we may at times disagree, as friends sometimes will, the bonds between the United States and Israel are unbreakable -- (applause) -- and the commitment of the United States to the security of Israel is ironclad.
A strong and secure Israel is in the national security interest of the United States not simply because we share strategic interests, although we do both seek a region where families and children can live free from the threat of violence. It’s not simply because we face common dangers, although there can be no denying that terrorism and the spread of nuclear weapons are grave threats to both our nations.
America’s commitment to Israel’s security flows from a deeper place -- and that’s the values we share. As two people who struggled to win our freedom against overwhelming odds, we understand that preserving the security for which our forefathers -- and foremothers -- fought must be the work of every generation. As two vibrant democracies, we recognize that the liberties and freedoms we cherish must be constantly nurtured. And as the nation that recognized the State of Israel moments after its independence, we have a profound commitment to its survival as a strong, secure homeland for the Jewish people.
Abstract: The phrase “Cherkessian Factor” usually refers to the influence exerted by the ethnic solidarity of the Cherkessian (Abkhaz-Adyg) peoples, both those located in the Russian Federation and the Cherkessian diaspora in Turkey, Jordan, Israel, Lebanon, and Egypt. This influence is felt on political, social, and cultural processes in the Caucasus and in countries with a large Cherkessian population. It is increasingly likely that this Cherkessian factor will lead to further destabilization in the North Caucasus.
The Carnegie Moscow Center, as part of the Black Sea Peacebuilding Network, hosted a discussion on the Cherkessian factor. Alexander Skakov of the Institute of Oriental Studies, Russian Academy of Sciences, and Nikolay Silaev of the Center for Caucasian Studies, Moscow State Institute of International Relations, spoke on this factor and its potential influence. Carnegie’s Andrei Ryabov moderated.
The speakers concluded by discussing possible avenues for resolving the tensions created by the Cherkessian factor in the North Caucasus, including full-scale privatization of land ownership; implementation of the provisions of federal law for municipalities; and effective action against corruption. They argued that such reforms would “permit a significant portion of the population to return to normal economic activity, which is currently impossible, and would thus automatically reduce the unhealthy interest in politically charged questions of ethnic identity … and in radical Islamism.” However, they warned the Russian government does not seem to recognize the necessity of such reforms to help stem the increasing violence in the region.
Abstract: President Obama: I outlined for the Prime Minister some of the issues that I discussed in my speech yesterday -- how important it was going to be for the United States to support political reform, support human rights, support freedom of speech, religious tolerance and economic development, particularly in Egypt, as the largest Arab country, as well as Tunisia, the country that first started this revolutionary movement that’s taking place throughout the Middle East and North Africa.
We also discussed the situation in Syria, which is obviously of acute concern to Israel, given its shared border. And I gave more details to the Prime Minister about the significant steps that we are taking to try to pressure Syria and the Assad regime to reform, including the sanctions that we placed directly on President Assad.
We continue to share our deep concerns about Iran, not only the threat that it poses to Israel but also the threat that it poses to the region and the world if it were to develop a nuclear weapon.
Prime Minister Netanyahu: Israel wants peace. I want peace. What we all want is a peace that will be genuine, that will hold, that will endure. And I think that the -- we both agree that a peace based on illusions will crash eventually on the rocks of Middle Eastern reality, and that the only peace that will endure is one that is based on reality, on unshakeable facts.
I think for there to be peace, the Palestinians will have to accept some basic realities. The first is that while Israel is prepared to make generous compromises for peace, it cannot go back to the 1967 lines -- because these lines are indefensible; because they don’t take into account certain changes that have taken place on the ground, demographic changes that have taken place over the last 44 years.
Abstract: U.S. President Barack Obama has endorsed a long-standing Palestinian demand that the borders of any future state of Palestine be based on the lines prevailing before the 1967 war, when Israel captured the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu headed for talks with Obama in Washington on Friday saying a Palestinian state configured that way could leave Israel "indefensible."
Obama's stress on 1967 borders went further than before in offering principles for resolving the impasse between Israel and the Palestinians and put the United States formally on record as endorsing the historical borders as a starting point.
But he stopped short of presenting a formal U.S. peace plan or suggesting how talks should resume.
[This website contains] facts touching on the borders bequeathed by the 1948 war surrounding the creation of the Jewish state.
Abstract: The upheavals in the Arab world have brought new dynamics into the Middle East conflict. Israel finds itself increasingly isolated and is under growing pressure to advance the prospects for a two-state solution. The Palestinians have finally managed to seal a reconciliation deal, which marks a potential turning-point on the road to peace. The US and the EU must make some important choices too. A more pragmatic Western approach towards Hamas is indispensable if the peace process is ever to deliver meaningful results.
Abstract: The recent Israel-Hamas escalation returns a spotlight to Gaza and the Islamist movement’s relationship with more militant organisations. Gaza arouses multiple concerns: does Hamas seeks to impose religious law; has its purported Islamisation stimulated growth of Salafi-Jihadi groups; and will al-Qaeda offshoots find a foothold there? Hamas faces competition from more radical Islamist groups, though their numbers are few, organisation poor, achievements against Israel so far minor and chances of threatening Gaza’s government slight. The significance of Gaza’s Salafi-Jihadis is less military capability than constraints they impose on Hamas: they are an ideological challenge; they appeal to members of its military wing, a powerful constituency; through attacks within and from Gaza, they threaten security; by criticising Hamas for not fighting Israel or implementing Sharia, they exert pressure for more militancy and Islamisation. The policy of isolating Gaza and ignoring Hamas exacerbates this problem. As the international community seeks new ways to address political Islam in the Arab upheaval’s wake, Gaza is not the worst place to start.
In the last few years, Hamas has faced new Islamist challengers in Gaza. They are groups of militants, known as Salafi-Jihadis, who adhere to a strict interpretation of Islamic law and see themselves not as liberators of Palestine but as part of a global movement of armed fighters defending Muslims against non-Muslim enemies, a category many of them believe also includes Shiites and Palestinian secularists. Although their current strength is low, these groups – which are responsible for a sizeable proportion of Gaza-based rocket attacks toward Israel – could well trigger an escalation that, as illustrated in the past week, could have serious consequences for Gaza, Israel and the region as a whole.
Abstract: Marsad is the Palestinian security sector observatory. Marsad gathers news items, analyses and reports relevant to Palestinian security sector governance (SSG) and security sector reform (SSR) in Arabic and English language.
Abstract: The objective of this report is to provide a comprehensive, long-term and regional framework for thinking about water in the Middle East, which can be implemented with specific policy decisions, beginning in the immediate future, by individual countries or small groups of countries without waiting for all the countries in the region to move forward.
Such a framework recognises the potential of water to deliver a new form of peace – the blue peace – while presenting long term scenarios of risks of wars and humanitarian crisis.
The report takes a comprehensive view of rivers, tributaries, lakes and underground water bodies. It is based on the recognition of linkages between watercourses. It is not only impossible for any one country to manage a water body in isolation from other riparian countries but it is also impossible to manage a water body without examining its linkages with other watercourses in the region.
The report takes a long-term view. The countries that are friendly today may be antagonistic tomorrow and the ones which are enemies today may be friends tomorrow. The history of merely last ten years in the Middle East demonstrates how quickly the geopolitical scene changes. The political equations of today cannot be assumed to remain constant during the next decade and beyond. Our vision, therefore, should not be imprisoned by the current context. We have to anticipate alternative political trajectories for the next couple of decades in order to find solutions that are sustainable in the long run.
The report provides a regional perspective. Since watercourses, both surface and underground, do not understand political boundaries, it would be natural to have a regional approach to water management. The nation centric approach is unnatural and therefore unsustainable.
Abstract: On April 1, 2011, the South African judge Richard Goldstone published an op-ed in The Washington Post qualifying some claims he had made in a controversial UN report on Israel’s conduct during its 2008 Operation Cast Lead in Gaza. His apparent retraction of an important claim in the report -- that Israel had a policy of intentionally targeting civilians -- set off a firestorm of speculation about his motives and the legitimacy of his original report. Several of Goldstone’s co-investigators subsequently spoke out in defense of the report’s original findings, but Israel has called on the United Nations to officially renounce them.
The hubbub over the Goldstone report raises the question of whether the UN is capable of independent human rights investigations. But in truth, governments tend to decry negative reports about their behavior regardless of where they come from. Human Rights Watch, a nongovernmental organization (NGO) known and respected for its investigative reporting, is also regularly accused of bias against Israel and is lambasted by the other countries singled out in its reports. The International Criminal Court’s investigations of human rights abuses in Sudan have also been denounced by Khartoum.
Abstract: On May 4, Palestinian Authority (PA) president Mahmoud Abbas is slated to sign a reconciliation agreement with Hamas leaders in Cairo, a development first announced last week. The move will mark an end to the period of estrangement between the two factions, which began in summer 2007 when Hamas expelled PA security services and Fatah officials from Gaza. Given their acrimonious past, the extent to which the parties will work together going forward is questionable.
Abstract: The number of Palestinian Arabs fleeing their homes during the 1948 war has constituted one of the most intractable bones of contentions of the Arab-Israeli conflict, not least since the Palestinians have insisted on the "right of return" of these individuals and their descendants to territory that has long been part of the state of Israel.
More than a half-century later, these exaggerated initial numbers have swollen still further: as of June 2000, according to UNRWA, the total had climbed close to three and three-quarters million, though it readily admits that the statistics are largely inflated. For its part the PLO set a still higher figure of 5 million refugees, while Israel has unofficially estimated the current number of refugees and their families at closer to 2 million.
Using a wealth of declassified Arab, Israeli, and British documents, this article seeks to provide as comprehensive and accurate an estimate as possible of the actual number of refugees in the wake of the 1948 war.
Abstract: National security is normally seen in terms of military strength and internal security operations against extremists and insurgents. The upheavals that began in Tunis, and now play out from Pakistan to Morocco,. have highlighted the fact that national security is measured in terms of the politics, economics, and social tensions that shape national stability as well. It is all too clear that the wrong kind of internal security efforts, and national security spending that limits the ability to meet popular needs and expectations can do as much to undermine national security over time as outside and extremist threats.
It is equally clear that calls for democracy are at best only the prelude to dealing with critical underlying problems, pressures, and expectations. It is far from certain that even successful regime change can evolve into functional democracies and governance. Countries with no political parties and experienced leaders, with no history of checks and balances in government, with weak structure of governance led by new political figures with no administrative experience, will often descend into chaos, extremism, or a new round of authoritarianism. Even the best governments, however, are unlikely to change an economy and national infrastructure in less than half a decade, and existing demographic pressures will inevitably go on for at least the next decade.