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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: Conflict continues to pose one of the biggest
threats to the survival, development and well being
of a significant number of children across the world.
In the past decade, 2 million children have died
directly as a result of conflict and 6 million have
been permanently disabled or seriously injured.
Explosive weapons were responsible for the death
and injury of thousands of children in a number of
conflicts in 2009, including Operation Cast Lead
in Gaza, the final stage of the war in northern
Sri Lanka, and the intensification of conflicts in
Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen. In these
latter four countries, as well as in the occupied
Palestinian territory and Iraq, the use of explosive
weapons continued through 2010. Children were
often the victims in these conflicts, with too little
attention paid to minimising the risk to them or to
ensuring that their fundamental human rights, such
as the right to life,were not violated.
As well as governments’ use of explosive weapons
in populated areas, recent decades have seen
a rising number of non state actors using more
sophisticated explosive weapons. For instance,
information leaked from Afghanistan indicates that
the Taliban has used shoulder launched surface to
air missiles, which are more technologically
advanced than the rocket propelled grenades they
frequently use. Improvised explosive devices
have also become more sophisticated and more
deadly over the past two decades.
Section 1 of this report describes the impact
of explosive weapons on children and their
communities. Section 2 outlines the international
human rights and legal framework that could
and should be implemented to protect children.
In Section 3, Save the Children proposes three
steps towards minimising the impact of explosive
weapons on children and makes recommendations
to the international community, governments and
Abstract: Palestinian civilians living in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt) continue to
bear the brunt of ongoing conflict and the Israeli occupation. This has resulted in
a protection crisis with serious and negative humanitarian consequences.
In the midst of this ongoing crisis, the Humanitarian Country Team (HCT) and
its partners in the oPt have identified five key protection themes as priorities for
- Accountability and Third State Responsibility
- Life, Liberty and Security
- Forced Displacement and Population Transfer
- Movement and Access
- Humanitarian Space
This report, one of a series that will address these priorities, focuses on the
displacement of Palestinian civilians and communities. Displacement in the oPt
is caused by a combination of factors, including lack of access to and control
of land and resources; restrictive zoning, planning and permit regulations; forced
evictions and house demolitions; restrictions on freedom of movement and access
to services and assistance; violence, intimidation and harassment; and finally,
revocation of civil status.
The displacement and dispossession of hundreds of Palestinian men, women and
children in the oPt each year must be brought to an end and the policies and
practices placing thousands of others at-risk of displacement must change.
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: 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: Valentine M. Moghadam looks at feminist insights into
violence, conflict, peacebuilding, and women’s rights, as well as
developments in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Palestine, to make the case
for the involvement of women and the integration of gender into all
phases of conflict resolution and post-conflict reconstruction and
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: This monthly UN report monitors of situation and changes using humanitarian indicators in sectors such as health, employment and the protection of civilians. Report uses both measurable humanitarian indicators and verified field observations.
Abstract: Protection of Civilians: Casualties Database maintained by United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs occupied Palestinian territory (UN OCHA-oPt) includes data on incident types and location, casualty identities (child/adult, gender, affiliation) and perpetrators. The OCHA office in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt) was established in late 2000. The office was established in response to the deteriorating humanitarian situation in the West Bank and Gaza caused by military incursions and closures - mobility restrictions imposed on the Palestinian civilians, local and international service providers. OCHA-oPt aims to improve the humanitarian situation by enhancing coordination between agencies to ensure effective distribution of humanitarian assistance. It also enhances coordination and decision making through its dissemination of humanitarian information and analysis of facts.
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: The April 2011 Ad Hoc Liaison Committee (AHLC) meeting is the fourth since the release in
August 2009 of the Programme of the Thirteenth Government of the Palestinian Authority
(PA). The plan was welcomed by the AHLC in September 2009 as an important platform for
donor coordination, with the focus on developing a sustainable economy and building robust
state institutions. The Quartet has supported this plan for building the institutions of a
Palestinian state in two years. The April 2011 AHLC meeting is the last expected AHLC
meeting before the September 2011 target date for completion of institutional readiness for
statehood set by the PA and supported by the Quartet. This is therefore a decisive period for
the state-building agenda, and the April meeting is an important moment for taking stock of
the economic and institutional issues before the AHLC.
The report concludes that, in the limited territory under its control and within the constraints on
the ground imposed by unresolved political issues, the PA has accelerated progress in
improving its governmental functions. In six areas1 where the UN is most engaged,
governmental functions are now sufficient for a functioning government of a state.
This reaffirms the World Bank’s assessment in September 2010, noted by the Quartet,
that ‘if the PA maintains its current performance in institution-building and delivery of
public services, it is well positioned for the establishment of a state at any point in the
near future’. This is a significant achievement arising from the commitment of the PA and
strong donor backing. In parallel, Israeli measures to facilitate movement and access have
also supported economic activity.
When released, the Palestinian National Plan (PNP) 2011-2013, will lay the basis for
additional improvements in PA institutions, and the UN looks forward to aligning its future
programming accordingly. A donors’ conference held at the appropriate time in 2011 will
provide an opportunity to reinforce support for the PNP. In addition, it will also be critical to
ensure that the PA’s recurrent external financing needs
Abstract: Security forces of the Palestinian Authority (PA) have arbitrarily detained scores of West
Bank journalists since 2009, and in some cases abused them during interrogation in a
manner that amounted to torture. Like other Palestinian victims of abuse by the PA’s security
services, these journalists confront a virtual wall of impunity when they try to hold their
abusers accountable, leaving the victims feeling vulnerable to further harassment and abuse.
The combination of abuse and impunity has, according to some journalists, produced an
intended “chilling effect” on free expression and led to increasing self-censorship.
This report documents how the PA’s Preventive Security and General Intelligence security
agencies arbitrarily and repeatedly detained journalists, prevented them from seeing
lawyers or family members while in detention, confiscated or damaged their equipment, and
in some cases tortured them. In the seven West Bank cases that Human Rights Watch
investigated, the harassment and abuse of journalists reflected attempts to prevent free
speech and inquiry into matters of public importance, and to punish writers solely because
of their statements critical of the PA or their perceived support of its political rivals.
Abstract: The Portfolio of Mine Action Projects is a resource tool and reference document for donors, policy-makers, advocates, and national and international mine action implementers. The country and territory-specific proposals in the portfolio reflect strategic responses developed in the field to address all aspects of the problem of landmines and explosive remnants of war (ERW). This country and territory-based approach aims to present as comprehensive a picture as possible of the full range of mine action needs in particular countries and thematic issues related to mine action. The portfolio ideally reflects projects developed by mine- and ERW-affected countries and territories based on their priorities and strategies; the approaches are endorsed by national authorities. The portfolio does not automatically entail full-scale direct mine action assistance by the United Nations, but is in essence a tool for collaborative resource mobilization, coordination and planning of mine action activities involving partners and stakeholders. A country portfolio coordinator (CPC) leads each country portfolio team and coordinates the submission of proposals to the portfolio’s headquarters team. While the majority of the CPCs are UN officials, this role is increasingly being assumed by national authorities. The country portfolio teams include representatives from national and local authorities, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), the United Nations and the private sector. Locally based donor representatives are invited to attend preparation meetings. Each portfolio chapter contains a synopsis of the scope of the landmine and ERW problem, a description of how mine action is coordinated, and a snapshot of local mine action strategies. Many of the strategies complement or are integrated into broader development and humanitarian frameworks such as national development plans, the UN development assistance frameworks and national poverty reduction plans. This 14th edition of the annual Portfolio of Mine Action Projects features overviews and project outlines for 29 countries, territories or missions affected by landmines and explosive remnants of war. There are 238 projects in the 2011 portfolio. Africa accounts for the largest number: 92.