Politics

PLO/Palestine: Time to Stop Buying Time

Al-Shabaka Commentary
Nadia Hijab,
Diana Buttu

After Gaza, What Price Palestine’s Security Sector?

Al-Shabaka Policy Brief
Sabrien Amrov,
Alaa Tartir

What Forces Shape the Palestinians of Gaza?

Al-Shabaka Commentary
Randa Farah

Drying Palestine: Israel’s Systemic Water War

Al-Shabaka Policy Brief
Muna Dajani

Israel’s targeting of water infrastructure during the latest Gaza onslaught has caught global attention, but much less noticed is the systemic water war that has been waged on Palestinian populations for decades. Tracing its three different battlefronts, Al-Shabaka Member and environmental researcher Muna Dajani looks at how military strikes, security programs, and permit systems have been destroying Palestinian water infrastructure and local resource-management systems, and calls for change.

Honor the Victims: Avoid Past Mistakes in Reconstructing Gaza

Al-Shabaka Policy Brief
Omar Shaban

Israel’s third war on Gaza has been the worst. A greater death toll, the compounded effects of a seven-year-long siege, plus unaddressed damage from previous wars will make it far more difficult to reconstruct. Ahead of the international donors conference planned for September, Policy Advisor Omar Shaban sets out the short- and medium-term needs and argues that an end to the siege of Gaza and the participation of Gaza-based stakeholders is crucial if the reconstruction process is to succeed.

Another Casualty of Israel’s Wars: Palestinians’ Right to Education

Al-Shabaka Commentary
Aimee Shalan,
Samer Abdelnour

Palestinian educational institutions, faculty, and students have not been spared the violence of Israel’s military crackdown across the Occupied Palestinian Territory this summer. Campus raids, the confiscation of student property, and airstrike damage to schools are just some examples of Israel’s recent acts of aggression against education. Al-Shabaka Guest Author Aimee Shalan and Policy Advisor Samer Abdelnour highlight the systematic nature of these attacks and the need to reaffirm Palestinians’ right to education. About the photograph: The attack on Palestinian education is systemic. Portrayed here is a Gaza school hit in a previous Israeli assault.

Israel’s West Bank Operation: Causes & Consequences

Al-Shabaka Commentary
Mouin Rabbani

Many have speculated that Israel’s largest West Bank offensive since the 2nd Intifada had among its aims the provoking of mass unrest at a time when Palestinians remain fragmented and can be more easily beaten down, notes Policy Advisor Mouin Rabbani. He argues that only a dynamic Palestinian strategy that includes internationalization and the rebuilding of national institutions can arrest and reverse Israel’s impunity in its dealings with the Palestinian people.

What's Stopping the 3rd Intifada?

Al-Shabaka Commentary
Jamil Hilal

Israel’s repression of Palestinians has never been as great as it is today. With no political solution in sight, the possibility of a 3rd Intifada in the Occupied Palestinian Territory seems inevitable. However, Al-Shabaka Policy Advisor Jamil Hilal is doubtful and highlights other powerful forces that make a 3rd Intifada unlikely to happen soon.

What Role for Law in the Palestinian Struggle for Liberation?

Al-Shabaka Policy Brief
Noura Erakat

Palestinians are divided over whether law can serve a positive function in their quest for self-determination. Al-Shabaka Policy Advisor Noura Erakat argues that law’s value is wholly contingent on the broader political framework that gives it meaning. She proposes that Palestinians adopt a complementary approach that includes using the law when justice can be served and political avenues when the law itself entrenches unjust outcomes.

Dis-participation as a Palestinian Strategy?

Al-Shabaka Commentary
Haidar Eid

Al-Shabaka Policy Advisor Haidar Eid trenchantly reviews the state of Palestinian political parties on the Right and on the Left. He concludes that the only way to work effectively for Palestinian rights may be to “dis-participate” in these largely illegitimate and ineffective political structures while at the same time working on some of the other alternatives available.

Transforming Our Vision of Palestine Into Reality

Al-Shabaka Commentary
Sam Bahour

A not-so-silent Palestinian majority opposes a peace that brings no justice. This fact underlies Al-Shabaka Policy Advisor Sam Bahour’s trenchant reality check for U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry’s push for a two-state solution. Bahour disposes of the myths still shrouding the failed negotiations and calls for economic investment of the right kind on the path to freedom, justice and equality.

Activating Palestine’s UNESCO Membership

Al-Shabaka Policy Brief
Valentina Azarov,
Nidal Sliman

Palestinian leaders have not activated Palestine’s UNESCO membership despite the costly battle to join and even though it could help rebalance the skewed Israeli-Palestinian power dynamic. Al-Shabaka Guest Author Valentina Azarov and Policy Member Nidal Sliman review the assaults on Palestinian cultural heritage and set out the significant practical advantages of UNESCO membership, including reasserting sovereignty over Palestinian land and sea and obliging third states to hold Israel accountable.

Why is the Egyptian Regime Demonizing Palestinians?

Al-Shabaka Commentary
Haidar Eid

As millions celebrated the end of the month of fasting, the Palestinians of Gaza remained under lockdown, the borders almost completely sealed and the tunnel economy destroyed. Al-Shabaka’s Gaza-based Policy Advisor Haidar Eid examines the way in which successive Egyptian regimes, including the Muslim Brotherhood-backed Morsi government, have used Gaza as a tool to achieve their ends and contributed to its plight.

How to Make International Law Work for Palestinians

Al-Shabaka Commentary
Ingrid Jaradat Gassner

For many Palestinians, international law has a bad name. It has been ignored or subverted to prolong Palestinian oppression and fragmentation since 1948. But, as Al-Shabaka Policy Advisor Ingrid Jaradat argues, drawing on the findings of a major international conference at Birzeit University, the Palestinian people should not turn their back on international law: If used appropriately it is an effective tool for the oppressed.

Trashing Four Generations of Palestinian Inheritance

Al-Shabaka Commentary
Dina Omar

As Palestinians commemorate the 46th anniversary of Israel’s occupation on June 5th, the villagers of Rammun are particularly incensed – but their wrath is targeted primarily at the Palestinian Authority. They suspect it of complicity with the Israeli occupation in confiscating their ancestral lands for a trash landfill, just one outcome of the many decades of rights violations Palestinians everywhere experience. Al-Shabaka Policy Member Dina Omar tackles the issues.

An Open Debate on Palestinian Representation

Al-Shabaka Roundtable
Rana Barakat,
Mouin Rabbani,
Dina Omar,
Fajr Harb,
Hani al-Masri,
As'ad Ghanem,
Yassmine Hamayel,
Aziza Khalidi

Is it better to try to revive the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and its institutions or should Palestinians build a new national movement? The participants in this roundtable debate the pros and cons of starting from square one, as Osamah Khalil suggested in a recent policy brief. Additional roundtable insights: a different articulation of the PLO’s value, and a question mark regarding the usefulness of elections to a national liberation movement.

Beyond South Africa: Understanding Israeli Apartheid

Al-Shabaka Policy Brief
Samer Abdelnour

Israeli apartheid is often compared to South Africa’s but Al-Shabaka Policy Advisor Samer Abdelnour argues that it is a unique brand with specific characteristics. He identifies three inter-locking dimensions of Israeli apartheid – physical, architecture, and ideological – concluding that it is far more sophisticated than the South African brand and suggesting directions for thinking and action to successfully dismantle it.

“Who are You?”: The PLO and the Limits of Representation

Al-Shabaka Policy Brief
Osamah Khalil

Is the Palestine Liberation Organization still the "sole, legitimate representative of the Palestinian people"? In this thought provoking policy brief, Al-Shabaka policy advisor Osamah Khalil argues that attempts to reform the organization will not make it more representative or accountable, but will instead save a leadership that has lost its legitimacy. He asserts that a new representative body must be built in order to achieve Palestinian rights.

How to Reclaim the Palestinian Narrative

Al-Shabaka Roundtable
Ali Abunimah,
Saleh Hijazi,
Ismail Khalidi,
Halla Shoaibi,
Cecilie Surasky,
Mandy Turner

Which comes first: shifting the balance of power or reclaiming the Palestinian narrative? Does the Palestinian Authority education system undermine the Palestinian story? Is there a place for the Israeli in the Palestinian narrative? How badly has the hegemonic narrative on Israel in the U.S. been shaken? These questions and more are thrashed out in this provocative Al-Shabaka roundtable.

Reclaiming the Palestinian Narrative

Will the Palestinians be written out of history? There is a serious danger that this may happen, writes Al-Shabaka Policy Advisor Jamil Hilal, who identifies five major misrepresentations of Palestinian history, geography and identity in the dominant discourse. He also discusses how Palestinians and their supporters must take hold of the way their story is told and reclaim their narrative.

Will the New Palestinians End Security Coordination?

Most Palestinians saw Hamas’ steadfastness and ability to hit back during Israel’s November attack as a victory. But will they put it to good use, asks Al-Shabaka Policy Advisor Haidar Eid, by ending Palestinian security cooperation with Israel – an opportunity missed after Israel’s 2008-09 operation? He argues that no real reconciliation amongst Palestinian factions is possible in the shadow of such collaboration.

Gaza Fallout Weakens Israel, Strengthens Nationalists

Al-Shabaka Commentary
Nadia Hijab

By pursuing military victory at any cost in the short term, Israel sets itself up for political failure in the longer-term, argues Al-Shabaka Director Nadia Hijab. In this compelling analysis, she discusses how Israel’s operation in Gaza has further eroded the political gains it secured from the Camp David and Oslo accords and has boxed in the Fatah-led Palestine Liberation Organization, among other repercussions for Israel’s ability to impose its will on the region.

Palestinians Imposing Agenda on Abbas

Al-Shabaka Policy Brief
Leila Farsakh

As Mahmoud Abbas heads to the United Nations to secure non-member state status for Palestine, he faces a strong and growing movement among Palestinian civil society activists within and outside the occupied Palestinian territory to reframe the Palestinian struggle as fighting against an apartheid Israeli regime and for inalienable Palestinian rights – and not for a state per se. Al-Shabaka Policy Advisor Leila Farsakh discusses Abbas’ attempts to placate this movement while retaining control of his political program.

What’s Really Going On at Rafah?

Al-Shabaka Commentary
Laila el-Haddad

Egypt now has a government more sympathetic to Hamas, the de facto government in the Gaza Strip. But Egyptian policy towards the Rafah Crossing still largely follows the parameters established by Israel for Palestinian passage -- and even when the Crossing is "open" thousands of Palestinians are not allowed through. Al-Shabaka Policy Advisor Laila El-Haddad provides a concise overview of how the Crossing has been managed and its impact on the Palestinian residents of Gaza.

Israel’s Nukes Derail U.S. Nonproliferation Goals

Al-Shabaka Policy Brief
Victor Kattan

According to U.S. and Israeli intelligence, Iran is not building nuclear weapons, but cracking down on the country is a top U.S. policy goal. By contrast, Israel’s longstanding nuclear weapons program is rarely mentioned. In this policy brief produced in collaboration with American Muslims for Palestine, Al-Shabaka Policy Advisor Victor Kattan argues that if the U.S. is really serious about nuclear nonproliferation it must also tackle Israel’s massive nuclear arsenal.

Democratizing the PLO: Five Questions

Al-Shabaka Commentary
Toufic Haddad

There are lively, ongoing discussions amongst Palestinians about democratic representation to which Al-Shabaka policy advisors continue to contribute. In his commentary on democratizing the PLO Toufic Haddad poses some questions arising out of the present political scene and the implications for democratic elections.

Debating Palestine: Representation, Resistance, and Liberation

Al-Shabaka Commentary
Rabab Abdulhadi

Palestinian communities the world over are grappling with the questions of who really speaks in their name and how to craft strategies for resistance and liberation. In this thoughtful essay, Al-Shabaka Policy Advisor Rabab Abdulhadi draws on the history of the Palestinian national movement as well as her own experience as a scholar-activist to provide some answers. She also asks provocative new questions – such as what does it mean to be a Palestinian today and where does that leave Palestinian Arab Jews and Jews that do not identify with Israel’s settler colonialism, and what kind of relations Palestinians should develop with the Arab movements for freedom.

A Reset for U.S. Policy? Not Now, But Watch the Base

Al-Shabaka Commentary
Rashid Khalidi

What can be expected from the final months of the Obama Administration on the Arab-Israeli conflict? Al-Shabaka Policy Advisor Rashid Khalidi is pessimistic about any policy shift in the foreseeable future. Indeed, he describes President Barack Obama's UN speech in September as the worst ever by an American president and AIPAC (the American Israel Public Affairs Committee) as far more effective today than it was in the 1970s and 1980s, partly due to the efforts of Dennis Ross. In this wide-ranging interview with Al-Shabaka Policy Advisor Victor Kattan, Khalidi explains why he sees no hope at present for a just U.S. policy, although this could change if public opinion -- which is much more enlightened than that of U.S. policy makers -- makes itself felt through the media and at the political level.

The Russell Tribunal on Palestine and the Question of Apartheid

Al-Shabaka Policy Brief
Victor Kattan

The third session of the Russell Tribunal on Palestine recently convened in Cape Town, South Africa. Its perhaps most controversial finding was that Israel applies a system of apartheid to the entire Palestinian people, including its own citizens. What is the significance of this finding, and what does it mean for civil society in Palestine and the Diaspora -- and for Israel and its supporters? In this policy brief, Al-Shabaka Policy Advisor Victor Kattan describes what apartheid means under international law, highlights the Tribunal's findings, and explains its significance.

Prisoner Exchange Levels Hamas, Fatah Playing Field

Al-Shabaka Commentary
Mouin Rabbani

Will the threats from Washington and the exposed impotence of the European Union push the newly revived Hamas and the somewhat deflated Fatah into serious reconciliation and the beginnings of a common Palestinian platform? Mouin Rabbani, Al-Shabaka Policy Advisor and Senior Fellow at the Institute for Palestine Studies, dissects the rapidly changing political landscape in the wake of the Israel-Hamas prisoner exchange and the run-up to the Security Council decision on the Palestine Liberation Organization's bid at the United Nations.

Statehood Stalled: Next Steps for the Palestinian People

Al-Shabaka Commentary
Nadia Hijab

Palestine Liberation Organization Chairman Mahmoud Abbas' decision to submit the application for membership to the UN Security Council rather than the General Assembly last week enabled him – and the Obama administration – to take a step back from confrontation. Al-Shabaka Director Nadia Hijab examines the several unintended consequences of the statehood bid and argues that the Palestinian people should use this time to redouble efforts to save the land of Palestine, press for accountability, demand representation, and exploit the legal approaches offered by the Advisory Opinion of the International Court of Justice, calling for state sanctions against Israel alongside the highly successful boycott and divestment movement.

September and Beyond: Who Speaks in My Name?

Al-Shabaka Commentary
Samah Sabawi

As the UN vote on recognition of the state of Palestine approaches later this month, Al-Shabaka policy advisor Samah Sabawi argues in this commentary that the controversy surrounding the bid obscures the larger question of whether the Palestine Liberation Organization and the Palestinian Authority are legitimate representatives of the Palestinian people.

Achieving a Palestinian Spring

Al-Shabaka Roundtable
Ali Abunimah,
Rana Barakat,
Beshara Doumani,
Toufic Haddad,
Jamil Hilal,
Hani al-Masri,
Mezna Qato,
Will Youmans

In this Al-Shabaka roundtable, a cross-section of policy advisors reflects on Jamil Hilal’s policy brief, “Palestinian Answers in the Arab Spring.” They discuss the state of Palestinian politics and society, the future of the Palestinian national movement, and how to achieve a Palestinian Spring.

A State of Palestine: The Case for UN Recognition and Membership

Al-Shabaka Policy Brief
Victor Kattan

In this policy brief, Al-Shabaka Policy Advisor Victor Kattan examines the Palestinian Authority's strategy to achieve UN recognition and membership in September. He argues that if the initiative is successful, a State of Palestine would be a strategic asset to the Palestinian struggle for self-determination.

Palestinian Answers in the Arab Spring

Al-Shabaka Policy Brief
Jamil Hilal

In this policy brief, Al-Shabaka Policy Advisor Jamil Hilal examines the conditions necessary for Palestinians to join the democratic movements sweeping the region. He identifies some of the key principles necessary for a "Palestinian spring," including a reunified body politic with representative mechanisms and political and intellectual pluralism.

Declaring an Independent Bantustan

Al-Shabaka Commentary
Haidar Eid

The Palestinian Authority is attempting to achieve UN recognition of the state of Palestine in September. In this Al-Shabaka commentary, policy advisor Haidar Eid argues that it will be a state in name only, resembling the "independent homelands," or bantustans, created by South Africa's apartheid regime.

Debating Forms of Resistance

Al-Shabaka Roundtable
Sam Bahour,
Rana Barakat,
Mary Nazzal-Batayneh,
Oroub el-Abed,
Nadia Hijab,
Victor Kashkoush,
Anis Kassim,
Osamah Khalil,
Mouin Rabbani,

The latest Al-Shabaka roundtable examines the effectiveness of different forms of resistance in achieving Palestinian rights. The participants discussed a range of issues from the implications of armed struggle to the potential and limitations of the boycott, divestment, and sanctions movement.

The “Palestine Papers”: An Alternative Analysis for Action

Al-Shabaka Commentary
Nadia Hijab

Since they were leaked in late January by Al-Jazeera, the “Palestine Papers” have sparked outrage and condemnation of the Palestinian Authority. Al-Shabaka Co-Director Nadia Hijab examines how Palestinians can ensure that their rights are achieved in spite of the concessions at the negotiating table.

Unmet Potential: The UN Committee on Palestine

Al-Shabaka Policy Brief
Noura Erakat

In 1975, the UN General Assembly established the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People. In this policy brief, Al-Shabaka Policy Advisor Noura Erakat examines the role of the Committee and the failure of the Palestine Liberation Organization to effectively utilize it to achieve Palestinian rights. She also discusses how the Committee has shunned the participation of civil society organizations since the Oslo Accords were signed.

The Myth of American Pressure

Al-Shabaka Policy Brief
Osamah Khalil

Recent reports that the Obama administration offered Israel unprecedented incentives to continue its limited 10-month moratorium on settlement construction for an additional 60 days have sparked an outcry among Palestinians and their supporters. However, in this policy brief Al-Shabaka Co-Director Osamah Khalil argues that the administration’s actions fit into a much broader historical pattern of public American pressure on Israel and private concessions.

Gaza: The Enduring Siege

Al-Shabaka Commentary
Haidar Eid

Writing from Gaza, Al-Shabaka Policy Advisor Haidar Eid challenges Israel's claim that it has eased its siege. Eid compares Israel's policies with those of Apartheid South Africa and argues that the anti-apartheid struggle offers valuable lessons for Palestinians on how to overcome the siege and revitalize their national movement.

Reclaiming Self-Determination

Al-Shabaka Policy Brief
Ali Abunimah

Will a Palestinian state, no matter how sovereign, fulfill the Palestinian right to self-determination? Al-Shabaka Policy Advisor Ali Abunimah argues that in order to achieve true sovereignty, self-determination must return to the center of the Palestinian struggle.