The Other Disengagement (Issue No.20, Winter 2003)
The flurry of activity among diplomats and political figures over the past few months masks a further disengagement from human rights and public participation in peacemaking, says the latest issue of BADIL's quarterly magazine Al-Majdal.
Al-Majdal's editorial "The Other 'Disengagement'-Human Rights, Popular Democracy and a Just Peace" points out that these elements are critical for a just and durable peace but are missing from recent proposals. If such efforts are pursued, neither Palestinians nor Israelis will have the kind of long-term solution they deserve.
This issue also reports on a meeting at BADIL with a Jewish Israeli organization working on Palestinian-Israeli reconciliation; the 4th annual Right of Return conference in London; a BADIL-sponsored tour of Palestinian refugee to study land restitution and public participation in peacemaking in South Africa; and BADIL's expert forum on housing and property restitution for Palestinian refugees.
Refugee protection issues covered include an update on Palestinians from Iraq, housing demolition in Rafah, and the impact of Israel's "Apartheid Wall" on registered refugees. This issue also looks UNRWA's difficulties in raising money for its emergency programs and its work in rebuilding Jenin camp (West Bank) and rehabilitating housing in Neirab camp (Syria.(In addition, the new Al-Majdal issue presents guest authors Jaber Suleiman on the Burj al-Shemali Massacre and Omar Barghouti on the obstacle to a secular democratic solution for the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.
Human Rights, Popular Democracy, and a Just Peace
There are three critical factors for a comprehensive and durable solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. First, it should be consistent with international law and relevant UN resolutions. Secondly, the process must allow for broad public participation. And finally, based on the above, a comprehensive and durable solution must respect refugee rights while the process itself must include refugees.
Unfortunately, the flurry of official and unofficial political activity among many international diplomats, and Israeli and Palestinian political figures over the past several months signals a further disengagement from human rights and popular democracy and a setback in the search for a just peace. In terms of end results, there is not a lot of distance between Ariel Sharon’s recent talk of ‘unilateral disengagement’ from the Palestinians and many of the high-profile alternative efforts to find a solution to the conflict.
Given the moribund state of the so-called Road Map, which is still viewed as ‘the only game in town’, many international actors have thrown their political support behind alternative initiatives, including the so-called 'Geneva Understandings' that were released in a glitzy ceremony in the Swiss capital in December 2003. Those who drafted the initiative in the relative seclusion of Dead Sea resorts and the luxurious trappings of Lake Geneva argue that the initiative is meant to prove, first and foremost, that it is possible to reach a “fair and executable agreement” between the two sides.
Survey of Palestinian Refugees and IDPs Given Official Launch in UK
The first edition (2002) of the annual Survey of Palestinian Refugees and Internally Displaced Persons, produced by BADIL, was launched in the British House of Commons in London on 6 November 2002, at an event organized by al-Awda, the Palestine Right to Return Coalition UK, and the Joint Parliamentary Middle East Councils in Britain.
In November 2003 organized a fact finding mission to South Africa that aimed to provide an opportunity for Palestinian refugee activists to learn more about the process of land restitution and public participation in peacemaking. A first mission visited Bosnia-Herzegovina in June 2002. BADIL staff member Nihad Boqai and refugee activist and researcher Mahmoud Issa (Denmark) report on the trip.
Some 40 Israeli activists, most of them young people, followed the invitation of Zochrot for an in-depth study day dedicated to two aspects of the Palestinian refugee issue: international law and internally displaced Palestinians. Three guest-speakers speakers were invited: Ingrid Jaradat Gassner (BADIL) and Israeli attorney Michael Sfard as respondent, and Muhammad Kayal, on behalf of the Association for the Defense of the Rights of the Internally Displaced in Israel.
Fifteen Years after the June 1982 War: Testimonies on the Battle of Burj al-Shamali Refugee Camp and Israel's Massacres and Air Raids (excerpts)
In Burj ash-Shamali refugee camp in Lebanon, there is a small area reserved for collective memory. In the eastern side of the camp, the ruins of al-Hulah Club and its shelter, site of the Israeli Air Force’s horrific massacre, still remain.
The shelter has become a collective tomb. The residential areas around the site have now expanded, and with the exception of a few square meters on which a very modest memorial monument has been erected, houses today take up much of the area and its surroundings. Shaded beneath a majestic cedar, several layers of cement blocks make up this memorial, which carries no engravings or testimonials.
Conquest may be fraught with evil or with good for mankind, according to the comparative worth of the conquering and conquered peoples.’(1) Theodore Roosevelt From the scandalous Nusseibeh-Ayalon agreement to the irreparably flawed Geneva Accords, the last true Zionists -- with the crucial help of acquiescent Palestinian officials -- have tried their best to resuscitate the two-state solution with the declared intention of saving Zionism. But it is arguably too little, too late.
UNRWA’s Role in Housing Reconstruction
UNRWA, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees, is currently involved in two major, but very different, housing projects in Palestinian refugee camps.
For more than 50 years UNRWA has been helping to provide housing for Palestinian refugees. In the early days of their flight, UNRWA and other organizations such as the ICRC and the Quakers provided tents that were gradually replaced with more durable shelters in the 1950s. Again in 1967 after the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, tents were needed to house fleeing refugees in Jordan and Syria. UNRWA also completely rebuilt refugee camps in Lebanon after the 1982 Israeli invasion and the “camps war” in the mid-1980s.
List of 111 Palestinian victims of Israeli violence between 28 September 2003 and 31 December 2003. In total 26 of those killed were 18 and under. (JMCC) Between 29 September 2000 and 31 December 2003, 2,536 Palestinians, including 23 inside Israel, have been killed by Israeli security forces. (PRCS)
Between 29 September 2000 and 18 December 2003, 575 Israeli civilians and 255 members of the Israeli security forces were killed. (B’tselem)
New BADIL Publications
Survey of Palestinian Refugees and Internally Displaced Palestinians 2002
This new publication by BADIL provides basic historical and current information on Palestinian refugees and internally displaced persons.
The Survey includes 6 chapters covering the historical circumstances of Palestinian displacement, population, legal status, socio-economic profile, international protection and assistance, and durable solutions. The Survey will be published annually by BADIL Resource Center. Available in English and Arabic. 200 pages. ISSN 1728-1679.