Saturday, December 5, 2009

A Palestinian couple stands on the beach at sunset on the last day of the Muslim Eid Al-Adha festival in Gaza City, Monday, Nov. 30, 2009. Eid al-Adha, or the Feast of the Sacrifice, is celebrated to commemorate the prophet Ibrahim's faith in being willing to sacrifice his son.(AP Photo/Tara Todras-Whitehill)

Palestinian fishermen paddle out to sea as sun sets on the last day of the muslim Eid Al-Adha festival in Gaza City, Monday, Nov. 30, 2009. Eid al-Adha, or the Feast of the Sacrifice, is celebrated to commemorate the prophet Ibrahim's faith in being willing to sacrifice his son.(AP Photo/Tara Todras-Whitehill)

A demonstrator waves a Palestinian flag during a protest against the controversial Israeli barrier in the West Bank village of Nilin December 4, 2009. Israeli soldiers used tear gas canisters, stun grenades and small-bore calibre live rounds to disperse some 150 Palestinian protesters. A Palestinian demonstrator was moderately wounded after being shot by Israeli soldiers. REUTERS/Yannis Behrakis (WEST BANK POLITICS CONFLICT)

A Palestinian woman watches a Jewish settler carry out the belongings of a Palestinian family from a house in the east Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah, Tuesday, Dec. 1, 2009. In an unrest Tuesday, a Jewish family took over a house in an Arab neighborhood of east Jerusalem, sparking a protest by rock-throwing Palestinians and a few Israeli and foreign activists who joined them, police said. One of the family members was lightly injured in the head when a protester hit him with a metal bar, and police arrested five people. Both sides claim ownership of the building. (AP Photo/Dan Balilty)

Israeli left wing activists walk with a banner during a protest in Jerusalem, Friday, Nov. 27, 2009. The protest was organized by groups supporting Palestinians evicted from their homes in east Jerusalem by Israeli authorities. Hebrew sign reads 'enough with the east Jerusalem settlements' (AP Photo/Sebastian Scheiner)

An Israeli left wing activist holds a sign during a protest in Jerusalem, Friday, Nov. 27, 2009. The protest was organized by groups supporting Palestinians evicted from their homes in east Jerusalem by Israeli authorities.(AP Photo/Sebastian Scheiner)

Muslim pilgrims gather at Mount Arafat. Iranians chanted death to America and Israel on Thursday as some 2.5 million Muslims, drying out after a day of torrential rains, continue their hajj pilgrimage and mass at the site of the prophet Mohammed's last sermon.(AFP/Mahmud Hams)

Palestinian construction workers build are seen at a building site in the West Bank Jewish settlement of Beit Arieh, Wednesday, Dec. 2, 2009. Israeli police arrested the mayor of a West Bank Jewish settlement on Wednesday after protesters blocked security forces from entering the community to enforce a construction freeze. (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)

A Palestinian worker operates a construction vehicle in a construction site at the West Bank Jewish settlement of Maaleh Adumim, near Jerusalem, Thursday, Dec. 3, 2009. Jewish settlers pressed ahead Thursday with their refusal to abide by a government-ordered freeze of new building in West Bank settlements, blocking inspectors from entering one such community to enforce the edict. (AP Photo/ Tara Todras-Whitehill)

A Jewish settler, foreground left, looks on as Palestinian construction workers build a synagogue at the Jewish settlement of Kedumim, in the northern West Bank, Thursday, Dec. 3, 2009. Jewish settlers pressed ahead Thursday with their refusal to abide by a government-ordered freeze of new building in West Bank settlements, blocking inspectors from entering one such community to enforce the edict.(AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)

Palestinians returning from the Hajj pilgrimage hold hands with relatives on the other side of the fence as they cross back from Egypt into Gaza through the Rafah crossing, southern Gaza Strip, Thursday, Dec. 3, 2009. A total of 2.5 million pilgrims attended the hajj this year. (AP Photo/Eyad Baba)

Palestinians walk through a newly built 500 meter-long passage way on their way back to the Gaza Strip through Israel's Erez Crossing December 3, 2009. REUTERS/Yannis Behrakis (GAZA POLITICS)

A Palestinian protester jumps with a Palestinians flag during a demonstration against Israel's separation barrier in the West Bank village of Nilin near Ramallah, Friday, Dec. 4, 2009. (AP Photo/Nasser Ishtayeh)

RNPS IMAGES OF THE YEAR 2009 MEA - Members of the Palestinian Nabhan family live in the remains of their house in eastern Jabalya refugee camp March 14, 2009. Their house was destroyed during Israel's three-week long offensive in Gaza Strip last January. REUTERS/Yannis Behrakis (GAZA CONFLICT DISASTER SOCIETY IMAGE OF THE DAY TOP PICTURE)

RNPS IMAGES OF THE YEAR 2009 MEA - Smoke rises during Israeli's offensive in Gaza January 8, 2009. Palestinians faced even grimmer conditions in the Gaza Strip on Thursday after a U.N. aid agency halted work, saying its staff were at risk from Israeli forces fighting Hamas militants, after two drivers were killed. REUTERS/Mohammed Salem (GAZA)

RNPS IMAGES OF THE YEAR 2009 - A Palestinian man tries to extinguish a fire that started after youths threw a petrol bomb during clashes with Israeli police in Jerusalem's Old City October 25, 2009. Israeli police fired stun grenades at Arab youths who threw rocks at them in the compound of Jerusalem's flashpoint al-Aqsa mosque in the Old City on Sunday, Israeli and Palestinian officials and witnesses said.REUTERS/Yannis Behrakis (JERUSALEM POLITICS CONFLICT)

RNPS IMAGES OF THE YEAR 2009 MEA - A Palestinian demonstrator places a Palestinian flag atop the controversial Israeli barrier during a protest marking the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall in the West Bank village of Nilin November 6, 2009. REUTERS/Yannis Behrakis (WEST BANK POLITICS CONFLICT IMAGES OF THE DAY)

Palestinians wait to receive food aid at the U.N. Relief and Works Agency, (UNRWA), warehouse in Gaza City, Tursday, Dec. 3, 2009. UNRWA has provided food, housing, education and health care for Palestinian refugees in Gaza, the West Bank and neighboring countries since its inception in 1950.(AP Photo/Hatem Moussa)

A Palestinian vendor (not pictured) sprays bubbles towards passing children at a market in the West Bank city of Ramallah November 26, 2009. REUTERS/Mohamad Torokman (WEST BANK SOCIETY)

Palestinian girls have their picture taken with a snake at a park in the West Bank city of Ramallah, November 30, 2009, during the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha. REUTERS/Mohamad Torokman (WEST BANK RELIGION ANIMALS SOCIETY)

A Palestinian child plays near a banner with portraits of prisoners during a demonstration calling for the release of Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli Jails, in Gaza City, Monday, Nov. 30, 2009. The Arabic on the banner reads 'charity'. (AP Photo/ Tara Todras-Whitehill)

The West Bank town of Bethlehem is seen in the background as labourers work on a construction site in Gilo, a Jewish settlement on land Israel captured in 1967 and annexed to its Jerusalem municipality, November 26, 2009. Israel's foreign minister shrugged off on Thursday the Palestinian dismissal of a 10-month moratorium on some building in West Bank settlements, saying winning international support was more important. Palestinians wanted Jerusalem and its surrounding areas included in a freeze.REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun (POLITICS BUSINESS CONSTRUCTION)

RNPS YEAR 2009 - A Palestinian boy climbs through an opening in Israel's controversial barrier in Shuafat in the West Bank near Jerusalem February 17, 2009. REUTERS/Baz Ratner (WEST BANK POLITICS CONFLICT)

Palestinians walk outside the Dome of the Rock Mosque on the first day of Eid al-Adha in Jerusalem's Old City, Friday, Nov. 27, 2009. Eid-al-Adha, or the Feast of the Sacrifice, is celebrated to commemorate the prophet Ibrahim's faith in being willing to sacrifice his son.(AP Photo/Mahfouz Abu Turk)

A Palestinian girl dressed in costume stands on the compound known to Muslims as al-Haram al-Sharif (Noble Sanctuary) and to Jews as Temple Mount after prayers on the first day of the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha in Jerusalem's Old City November 27, 2009. Muslims around the world celebrate Eid al-Adha to mark the end of the haj by slaughtering sheep, goats, cows and camels to commemorate Prophet Abraham's willingness to sacrifice his son Ismail on God's command. REUTERS/Ammar Awad (JERUSALEM POLITICS RELIGION)

Palestinian children play in front of houses, destroyed during the three-week offensive Israel launched last December, on the first day of the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha in the northern Gaza Strip November 27, 2009. Muslims around the world celebrate Eid al-Adha to mark the end of the haj by slaughtering sheep, goats, cows and camels to commemorate Prophet Abraham's willingness to sacrifice his son Ismail on God's command. REUTERS/Ibraheem Abu Mustafa (GAZA POLITICS RELIGION)

A Palestinian labourer is seen at a construction site in the West Bank Jewish settlement of Maale Adumim near Jerusalem, November 25, 2009. REUTERS/Baz Ratner

Palestinian labourers break concrete from the rubble of a house in al-Salam neighborhood in the northern Gaza Strip November 25, 2009, destroyed during the three-week offensive Israel launched last December. Hundreds of Gaza families made homeless during the war still live in tents, the United Nations says. Many more than that are living in the ruins of their houses or with relatives. Picture taken November 25, 2009. REUTERS/Mohammed Salem (GAZA POLITICS CONFLICT SOCIETY)

Jenin shepherd : A Palestinian shepherd stands with his camels on the outskirts of the West Bank city of Jenin ahead of the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha, or the Feast of Sacrifice (AFP/Saif Dahlah)

Voluntary contributions to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA)

Remarks by U.S. Senior Advisor Richard Erdman, at the Ad Hoc Committee of the General Assembly for the announcement of voluntary contributions to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA)

Richard Erdman
United States Senior Advisor
U.S. Mission to the United Nations
New York, NY


I am pleased to represent the United States Government in expressing its support of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). As we acknowledge next week the 60th anniversary of the passage of the resolution that called for establishment of UNRWA, the United States remains committed to supporting the agency's critical mandate.

In 2009, the United States continued to be UNRWA's largest bilateral donor, providing nearly $268 million to support the education, health, relief, social and emergency needs of 4.7 million registered refugees in the region. I would like to take this opportunity to commend the Agency's achievements and steadfast dedication to the welfare of Palestinian refugees. Over the past 60 years, the commitment of UNRWA's staff has helped to better the lives of generations.

The United States remains concerned about the chronic shortfalls facing the organization. UNRWA faces a shortfall of $90 million in 2009. Furthermore, the Agency expects that it will face a deficit of $140 million against its core needs in 2010. UNRWA is confronting increased demands on its services at a time of record financial shortfalls and economic uncertainty. We commend UNRWA on developing a budget that clearly reflects UNRWA's needs and, for the first time, is linked to meeting the organization's medium-term strategic goals.

UNRWA requires adequate funding so that it can continue to provide quality services and meet the pressing needs of Palestinian refugees in the region. Pending the availability of funds, the United States intends to provide an early and significant contribution in 2010 and urges all UN Member States to consider robust contributions to UNRWA's 2010 budget.

Thank you.

Fatah official: UNRWA finance crisis spells human disaster

Fatah official: UNRWA finance crisis spells human disaster
Published today 10:08

Gaza – Ma’an – Reduced services from the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) due to a budgetary shortfall risks political and social consequences if a solution is not found, member of the Fatah Revolutionary Council Mohammad An-Nahal warned on Saturday.

"The UNRWA financial crisis will not only affect the services offered to the more than four million of Palestinian refugees but also the cause of Palestinian refugees," An-Nahal said. "UNRWA is the only body in charge of the well being of the refugees until we can realize UN resolution 194," that calls for a just solution for Palestinian refugees, the official explained.

Last week UNRWA officials in Gaza announced that the organization had a "zero budget" for the new year, noting the financial crisis could mean failure to pay salaries of UNRWA workers and a decrease in the provision of services for refugees across the Middle East. On Thursday, Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al-Nahyan of the UAE ordered the donation of 2.5 million dollars to the agency, marking the donation for Palestine refugees in the Near East.

It is not clear how much UNRWA needs to ensure the regular provision of services.

An-Nahal said he hoped the financial crisis would not be solved by reducing services to refugees, and urged UNRWA and the UN to insist that donor countries follow-through on their pledges so the agency can continue its work.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Fundamentally Flawed

Statement By Majdi Ramadan Counselor Item 31: United Nations ... MORE
Statement By Majdi Ramadan Counselor Item 31: United Nations ...

UNRWA determined not to scale back amid crippling funding crisis

UNRWA determined not to scale back amid crippling funding crisis
By Dalila Mahdawi
Daily Star staff
Saturday, December 05, 2009

BEIRUT: The United Nations agency for Palestinian refugees is struggling with a “dire” financial crisis but will not cut back on its provision of services, its head of operations in Lebanon said Friday. The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) said on Wednesday it was facing its worst budget deficit in history. According to a recent document posted on the agency’s website concerning UNRWA’s financial situation, a shortfall of $79.6 million for 2009 and $125.7 million for 2010 has been projected. It said a continuing lack of funds since 2005 had “resulted in the complete depletion of UNRWA’s working capital.

“UNRWA is faced with a dire financial crisis,” Salvatore Lombardo, director of UNRWA Affairs in Lebanon, told The Daily Star. He said the agency’s operations in Lebanon were facing a $9 million deficit for 2010. “We have been operating with approximately the same budgets for the last [several] years whilst the needs are growing considerably and the cost of services is increasing,” he said. “Our expected budget is 14 percent less than what UNRWA needs to cover the most basic requirements of Palestine refugees.”

The UN official added that although the agency would continue to provide health care, education and relief and social services, the standards of those services would drop. “Whilst UNRWA strives to ensure services are not cut, the overall environment it operates in will deteriorate,” he added.

There are over 422,000 Palestinian refugees registered in Lebanon, most of who live in the country’s 12 squalid refugee camps.

The figure may no longer be accurate, however, as UNRWA does not remove refugees who have moved abroad from its records. There are also an unknown number of nonregistered refugees and an additional 40,000 Palestinians residing in 42 so-called “gatherings,” or ghettoized neighborhoods.

UNRWA has routinely faced funding shortages in the past, but the ongoing international financial crisis and a lack of financial reserves have resulted in a “situation of unprecedented gravity,” the UNRWA website said.

The agency held its annual pledging conference at the United Nations General Assembly on Wednesday, hoping the international community would respond to its financial emergency. “It would be timely, and extremely welcome, if UNRWA was to receive new pledges of support from unexpected quarters or else the announcement of increase in funding from those that have historically underperformed in this respect,” said Andrew Whitley on behalf of UNRWA Commissioner General Karen Abu Zayd ahead of the conference.

“The refugees and our 30,000-strong Palestinian staff, who live in great anxiety these days about the prospect of further reductions in their modest living standards, would be enormously relieved.” UNRWA has warned salary cuts were straining relations with its employees.

But Lambardo said that while pledges were made at the conference, it was “not enough to cover the shortfall for 2010.”

Speaking in September on the occasion of UNRWA’s 60th anniversary, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon acknowledged the agency’s serious funding shortages and appealed to the international community to give generously. “The agency’s work is too important for it to suffer budget crisis after budget crisis,” he said.

UNRWA’s funding shortfall will impact other non-governmental organizations (NGOs) working with Palestinians, said John Viste of ANERA, an American NGO which provides humanitarian relief aid to Palestinian refugees. “It does affect us when UNRWA services are cut back.”

Medicine, normally provided by UNRWA, was a case in point, Viste said. “If they don’t have any medicine available, others have to fill in the gap. If they can’t provide then the Palestinians are forced to buy, which places greater strain on their resources.”

In spite of the financial difficulties, UNRWA is pursuing internal reform that requires no additional funding, Lambardo said. “We are committed to improving the management of our services. We will do so through decentralizing decision-making to the head teachers, medical officers and relief workers that run our schools, clinics and camp officers, communicating better with our beneficiaries and eliminating bureaucracy in our processes.”

Nevertheless, the cutbacks have raised fears that the security situation in the camps could explode. “The consequences of the financial deficit extend beyond the level of quality of services we provide,” Lombardo said. “Instability feeds on poverty and a lack of opportunities. There are very concrete steps that can be taken to push back against such scenario.

“Providing health, education, and relief and social services means not only teaching the young, caring for the sick and fending for the poor. It means creating a platform of stability on which future political progress can rest. UNRWA is part of the solution here in Lebanon,” he said.

Reflections on the Badil “Palestinian Refugees under International Law” Course Written by Nidal Azza

Reflections on the Badil “Palestinian Refugees under International Law” Course

Written by Nidal Azza

Intent on introducing Palestine's future legal cadre to a rights-based approach to the Palestinian refugee question, Badil entered a partnership agreement with al-Quds University in the fall of 2007. Since then, Badil's course on “Palestinian refugees under international law” has been one of the courses offered to law students, with larger numbers enrolling each semester. The target group of the Badil law course is university students, particularly law students interested in human rights. It is expected that law students, as part of the student movement that has historically played a major role in the national struggle, will influence their community and contribute to the right of return movement.

This piece addresses the importance of this law course as part of the broader campaign to defend Palestinian refugee rights. It tries to assess the impact of academic teaching on the right of return movement, specifically how it can strengthen the unity of the refugee return movement and promote self-organized initiatives upholding Palestinian refugee rights.

“… for us, the inclusion of the international law course on Palestinian refugees in the academic program is a distinct step reflecting our duty toward law students, as well as our commitment to Palestine and Palestinian rights. On one hand, it provides students interested in international law and human rights law with new course material. On the other hand, it explores, through the lens of Palestinian refugee rights, the prolonged conflict from a comparative legal perspective.” (Muhammad Shalaldah, Dean of the Al-Quds University Law School, University Press Release, 19 May 2008)
Hamdi Alshaikh, one of the students enrolled in the Fall 2007 semester and himself a refugee, confirmed that he used to see the right of return as one item in a list of “sacred national rights,” together with the right to self- determination, independence and statehood, but never paid attention to the importance of the law underpinning those rights: “When I chose the course, I was expecting a historical and political overview of our plight. I did not imagine that the Palestinian refugee question could be treated legally under so many bodies of law.” For Badil and for the right of return movement, planting and fostering such understanding is essential for building and strengthening the movement promoting solutions that respond to the rights and needs of Palestinian refugees.1
After the Nakba of 1948 which resulted in the largest wave of Palestinian displacement from the homeland, the refugees' right of return was seen by Arab states, political parties and Palestinians themselves as an automatic result of the eventual liberation of Palestine, which was expected to come through the success of the armed struggle. It was then called a national and natural right, one that is inalienable, non-negotiable and one that would be automatically attained upon the liberation of Palestine. Accordingly, there was no perceived need to further explore the legal dimensions of this right, for example, by examining its human rights context or relevant sources in international law. Indeed, the need and benefit of representing the right of return as a human right enshrined in international law have been given priority only in the process of popular mobilization that came in response to the launch of the Oslo process in the early 1990s, a process that was marked by the organization of several refugee popular conferences. (2)2
Since the early 1990s, similar messages and recommendations have been reiterated by all popular conferences: political negotiators are to respect the inalienable right of return when engaging in negotiations on the Palestinian refugee question; awareness must be raised locally and internationally about the rights of Palestinian refugees, and a new generation of Palestinians, especially refugees, must be raised with the capacity and skills required to defend these rights. The Global Right of Return Coalition, which is one of the most important outcomes of the popular conferences, has adopted these same recommendations in its statements and annual action plans. Palestinian parents and students confirm that Badil has succeeded to translate the popular message into a professional agenda of research, legal advocacy and teaching. Abdel Qader Nasser, a Palestinian activist and parent of one of the students enrolled in the Badil law course, said: "the first time I read from Badil that the right of return is an individual and collective right that is legal and possible I felt that this is different from what we heard from officials of the Palestinian Authority. Then I discovered that its meaning is the most accurate expression of my feelings as a refugee.”
The Badil syllabus and course materials
Badil signed the partnership agreement with Al-Quds University less than two months before the start of the Fall semester of 2007, giving us only a few weeks of preparation time. However, the collection of research papers and legal studies already gathered and prepared by Badil on various aspects of the Palestinian refugee issue made it easier to put together the course materials and syllabus. Members of Badil’s Legal Support Network, many of whom teach similar courses at universities abroad, provided valuable input into the design of the the course and contributed to the timely completion of preparations.
The course has been divided into two main parts: the first part explores the concepts and rights related to refugee status, state obligations, and the role of international agencies and mechanisms. Students study the provisions of the 1951 Refugee Convention, documents and recommendations of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, human rights treaty committees and relevant UN guidelines and declarations. Students learn about international standards for the treatment of refugees, and about examples of good and bad state practice. Students also learn how to assess states’ practices in light of the relevant instruments.
The second part of the course examines the genesis of the Palestinian refugee issue, the rights and specific status of Palestinian refugees, and protection gaps resulting from Israel's violation of its legal obligations and the failure of the international community to ensure Israel's respect of international law. In this section students also learn about other cases of displacement and dispossession through specific examples, such as Bosnia-Herzegovina and Apartheid in South Africa.3 They also examine the implementation of relevant provisions of the 1951 Refugee Convention. Such comparative studies enable students to see the protection gap that affects Palestinian refugees, develop their knowledge of other cases and enhance their understanding of the potential of a rights-based approach for solving the Palestinian case, thereby improving their ability to play an active role in defending Palestinian refugee rights.
From a legal perspective, the course is unique in that it combines various bodies of international law, specifically the Law of Nationality in state succession, international human rights law, and international humanitarian law. It goes beyond highlighting the rights and obligations enshrined in international treaties by encouraging students to discover the links between the various bodies of international law and their connections with the realities on ground. The course emphasizes the importance of applying a broad body of international law rules to conflict analysis, treatment of its consequences and formulating the solution.
“I studied International public law, international humanitarian law, the law of international organizations, and international human rights law, but I had not realized the importance of international law for ending the Israeli occupation before I took the course on Palestinian refugees under international law.” (Kifah Froukh, course of fall 2007)
In political terms, the course deals with the root causes of the conflict, its evolution, and proposed solutions. Although these topics are fundamental for any student of the region, they have been largely absent from the Palestinian curriculum at all levels. As such, Palestinian students have for the most part encountered materials dealing with their own history and struggle in a way that has not sufficiently engaged them to form a nuanced perspective of the various historical, political and legal dimensions of the struggle. By examining these dimensions, the course provides what can be considered a new way of looking at the conflict and an attempt to analyze and overcome the deficit in both, the educational curriculum and the common approach to “solutions” debated in the public sphere which look only at the political dimension while ignoring history and law.
“I have never believed that international law and mechanisms might be of any benefit for the rights of the Palestinian people. Even after I had taken three courses in international law, I could not see in international law any more than a tool in the hands of colonial powers. The course on Palestinian refugees under international law opened my eyes to see the possibility of using the same tool for defending our rights.” (Bader al-Tamimi, course of Spring 2009)
In practice, the course has contributed to mobilizing and advocating for a rights-based approach. Suhair Al Weradat, student of the Spring 2009 semester said, “the course opened my eyes to the importance of advocating for our rights, not only because we need to widen the support at the international level, but also because we need to always strengthen our home front.”
In early 2009, students of the Fall 2008 semester decided to organize a photographic exhibition explaining the ongoing Nakba in cooperation with the university's students union. Their initiative was supported by Badil and welcomed by the Law School faculty. It was developed to include a book fair and two seminars, one on refugee rights and the other on the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Campaign. Ahmad Nouba, a student of the Fall 2008 semester, noted that, “the title of the photographic exhibition - ‘Haq Al-Awda Mish Lalbay' (the right of return is not for sale) - which took place in mid March 2009, had a significant impact on the student community at the university. After the exhibition, this title became a slogan that can still be heard in everyday discussions.”
1For more information about the campaign see:
2For more on the evolution of the post-Oslo right of return movement, see Muhammad Jaradat, “Reflections on the Palestine return Movement”, al-Majdal #36-37 (Winter 07-Spring 08).
3Texts used for these examples are Badil's working papers: “The Right to Housing and Property Restitution in Bosnia and Herzegovina: A case Study”, and “Land Restitution in South Africa: Overview of Learned Lessons” accessible at

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Palestine Note: Palestinian refugees learn journalism basics, launch blog

A new blog entitled "Palestinian Youth Writes" has recently been launched as the outcome of a journalism workshop training for Palestinian refugees in Lebanon. The workshop was organized by the British Embassy and Lebanon's Al Hayat newspaper, the Daily Star reported .

According to the newly-launched site:

"The "Palestinian Youth Writes Blog is a media project that creates an additional space for young Palestinians men and women, from all casts and affiliations, to express their views and concerns. They can do so by using the many different multimedia tools provided on the blog, such as texts, images and videos. This project thus aims to attract a wide spectrum of both the Palestinians and the Diaspora, in order to highlight their common concerns and problems, whether they are social, cultural or political in nature.

Joanna Abu Jaoude, the project manager told the Daily Star:

"Palestinian issues are usually covered by non-Palestinians, and the reports tend to focus on the security aspects of the camps. We want to empower Palestinian youths to report on issues of their interest."

According to the daily:

The participants, recruited through NGOs, the Internet and word-of-mouth, were introduced to various techniques of journalistic work, complete with training sessions on how to succeed at investigative reporting, feature-writing or online journalism. Seasoned journalists of Al-Hayat, BBC and NowLeba­non acquainted them with the challenges of the job and the im­portance of objective reporting.

Click here to see the new blog.

Click here to read the full article on the Daily Star.

Peaceful resistance... an EXCELLENT letter in today's Jordan Times

Peaceful resistance

Having read the article “Not learning from failure” (The Jordan Times, December 2, 2009), I would like to express my ideas about the concept of nonviolent resistance.

In our Palestinian struggle, we tried all kinds of violent resistance since the 1960s, and the Palestinians gained nothing other than being named terrorists and losing Western support.

For many nations, nonviolent resistance was the path to freedom: blacks in the US, led by Martin Luther King Jr., blacks in South Africa during the apartheid, led by Nelson Mandela and, of course, the Indians led by Gandhi. These people were able to achieve freedom, justice and a better future.

We need to speak to the West in the language it understands. We cannot tell a European or American about our right to plant bombs in public transport buses.

This does not mean that Israel has the right to commit massacres. But we can talk to the West about our rights, international law, Geneva conventions, which is much more beneficial for our cause and rights.

A demonstration of 100,000 people in the West Bank chanting “We want freedom” is much more effective than 100 bombs in universities and buses.

We need to use the weak points of our enemy, but unfortunately we are making him stronger. The weakness of the enemy is our point of strength, which is our right to freedom, independence and justice, based on human rights and international law. Israel’s strong point is public relation: every time we plant a bomb somewhere in Tel Aviv, they gain more support and we lose ours.

Nonviolent resistance is the only alternative to useless, violent armed resistance, but it does not mean acceptance of the current situation.

Today, Israelis, Westerners and Palestinians are demonstrating against the Israeli wall and settlements. The Westerners take back these stories to their countries, and the circle of support increases week after week. I know this did not end the occupation yet, but it is one step on the long path to freedom.

What did we achieve through suicide bombing and rocket attacks in terms of ending occupation? Simply nothing.

By the way, it is not only Mahmoud Abbas who supports nonviolent resistance. There are many other Palestinians who do, among them the well-respected Mustafa Barghouthi.

Wasseem Al Kury,


4 December 2009

Thursday, December 3, 2009

My letter to The Guardian RE Shattering Israel's image of 'democracy'

RE: Shattering Israel's image of 'democracy'

Dear Sir,

Excellent to see Ben White's enlightening article "
Shattering Israel's image of 'democracy'": May many more voices of reason and compassion speak out clearly to help shape better policies- and better investments for both pubic and private funds.

AND Tempting though it might be to launch into an angry tirade about "Israel" in response, the real point is that bigotry is wrong: Palestinians do not need our rage- they need realistic solutions to end the Israel/Palestine conflict. The Arab Peace Initiative is a good start....

Emanating from the conviction of the Arab countries that a military solution to the conflict will not achieve peace or provide security for the parties, the council:

1. Requests Israel to reconsider its policies and declare that a just peace is its strategic option as well.

2. Further calls upon Israel to affirm:

I- Full Israeli withdrawal from all the territories occupied since 1967, including the Syrian Golan Heights, to the June 4, 1967 lines as well as the remaining occupied Lebanese territories in the south of Lebanon.

II- Achievement of a just solution to the Palestinian refugee problem to be agreed upon in accordance with U.N. General Assembly Resolution 194.

III- The acceptance of the establishment of a sovereign independent Palestinian state on the Palestinian territories occupied since June 4, 1967 in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, with East Jerusalem as its capital.

Furthermore, one does not have to support the Boycott campaign (Palestinian Call for Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS)) to agree with its demands that Israel meets its obligation to recognize the Palestinian people‘s inalienable right to self-determination and fully complies with the precepts of international law by:

1. Ending its occupation and colonization of all Arab lands and dismantling the Wall;

2. Recognizing the fundamental rights of the Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel to full equality; and

3. Respecting, protecting and promoting the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties as stipulated in UN resolution 194 [from 1948].

Anne Selden Annab

RNPS IMAGES OF THE YEAR 2009 - A Palestinian demonstrator uses a tennis racket to return an empty tear gas canister at Israeli soldiers during a protest against the controversial Israeli barrier in the West Bank village of Bilin near Ramallah October 23, 2009. REUTERS/Yannis Behrakis (WEST BANK POLITICS CONFLICT IMAGES OF THE DAY)

My Letter to the New York Times Global Blog 11-2009 RE An Absurd Situation by Daoud Kuttab

RE: An Absurd Situation by Daoud Kuttab

Dear Editor,

THANK YOU for publishing a Palestinian perspective- in particular such an articulate one! Daoud Kuttab sums up so much so perfectly with his statement: "What’s more, it is politically horrifying that Israel is willing to reward radical Hamas with a prisoner exchange instead of honoring the commitments of the Road Map, which call for, among other things, a freeze in settlements in the occupied territories."

I wonder how many other ways has Israel helped empower Hamas and undermine Abbas, systemically sabotaging a secular two state end to the Israel/Palestine conflict.

Anne Selden Annab

FILE - A Palestinian stone thrower faces an Israeli tank, during clashes at the Karni crossing point between Israel and the Gaza Strip, on the outskirts of Gaza City, in this Oct. 29, 2000 file photo. According to Enaam Udah, 41, her son Fares Udah, 13, is the boy in the picture and was shot dead by Israeli gunfire on November 8, 2000. 'We don't send our sons to an easy death, ' said Udah 'But if this is fated by God, then I cannot change that'. (AP Photo/Laurent Rebours, File)

My letter to the Washington Post RE Israel revoked Jerusalem residency of 4,500 Palestinians in 2008

RE: Israel revoked Jerusalem residency of 4,500 Palestinians in 2008

Dear Editor,

Thank you for headlining "Israel revoked Jerusalem residency of 4,500 Palestinians in 2008", rather than ignoring ongoing Israeli efforts to displace the native non-Jewish population of the Holy Land.

According to the Jordan Times December 3 2009 Editorial "East Jerusalem, Israel’s unilateral and unrecognised annexation notwithstanding, is occupied territory (indeed, all of Jerusalem remains, under international law, a corpus separatum). As such, the residents of Jerusalem and their descendants have their right of residency guaranteed under international law." Furthermore: "Israel needs to be held accountable for its racism before it becomes a precedent for other countries to follow."

One obvious reason why it is so very crucial to
understand, respect and fully support the Palestinian refugees inalienable legal and natural right of return to original homes and lands is to help prevent future evictions- and crimes against humanity... This is not only about Israel, but about every country on earth where bigotry and burglary can too easily become public policy, undermining basic human rights and true democracy everywhere.

Anne Selden Annab

Message from the Commissioner-General of UNRWA, Karen Koning AbuZayd, on the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People

Message from the Commissioner-General of UNRWA, Karen Koning AbuZayd, on the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People

Monday, 30 November 2009: Trusteeship Council chamber, United Nations

Delivered by Andrew Whitley, Director, UNRWA Representative Office, New York

Mr. Chairman,
Distinguished Delegates

I regret that I cannot be with you on this important occasion. After nine years of service to UNRWA and the Palestinian refugees, I shall be retiring from my office at the end of the year. Unfortunately, the reason why I cannot join you today is that I am currently on mission in Spain.

This moment - one when hopes of an early breakthrough in the peace process have once again dimmed, and the national polity remains deeply split; one when the blockade of Gaza has persisted with cruel rigour for 28 months, and the inhabitants of Nahr el-Bared along with many other refugees remain homeless - is an appropriate juncture to reflect on the importance of maintaining solidarity with the Palestinian people.

For the most part scattered from their homeland in the refugee camps, villages and cities of the surrounding region, as well as further afield, in all corners of the globe, over the past 62 years Palestinians have shown extraordinary resilience. In the face of considerable adversity they have educated their children and made them vital citizens of the world, without ever losing touch with their collective identity and burning desire for their own national state.

Palestinians’ understandable, and fully justified, search for justice has however been matched with pragmatism. Contrary to an often repeated myth, the refugees have not been a passive, aid-dependant group. Rather, given half an opportunity they have seized it, in the process contributing amply to the societies in which they live.

As the fateful story of the partition of Palestine, and the subsequent flight or expulsion of much of the indigenous population, began here in New York with the United Nations, on this day in 1947, let us not forget how much the Palestinian people look to this august body to live up to its convictions, and the many resolutions it has passed in their favour. Hopes of a just and lasting solution may have been dashed many times, but the refugees have not given up hope that, one day, their time will come.

What keeps spirits alive in low moments such as those they have experienced lately is the realization that the vast majority of member states in this global body share Palestinians' belief in the urgency of the need to bring an end to occupation and to exercise their right to self-determination.

The concept of the two-state solution may be looking a little ragged these days; but the alternative - a unitary state in which Palestinians would struggle for equal civil and political rights - is anathema to Israelis and a distant second-best goal for the vast majority of Palestinians, wherever they may live. Thus we must continue to press ahead with efforts to achieve a viable Palestinian state, while remaining vigilant to those unilateral measures that might ultimately render the goal unachievable.

Attention has lately been focused on a series of steps taken by the occupying power in East Jerusalem and in Area C of the West Bank, which remains under full Israeli control, that have made daily life increasingly difficult for Palestinians - among them the most vulnerable such as Bedouin nomads - and call into question the likelihood of being able to bring about a meaningful state, including East Jerusalem. The refugees, who make up about 40 percent of the population of the occupied Palestinian territory, have suffered in equal measure with their non-refugee counterparts from these negative developments.

Despite improved security coordination between the Palestinian Authority and the Government of Israel, humanitarian access incidents in the West Bank are still running at an unacceptably high level of almost two a day. In the words of the World Bank, the West Bank remains a "shattered economic space," in which its integrity as a viable socio-economic and political unit has been severely compromised.

In Gaza, meanwhile, we meet at a time when hopes are rising that Staff Sergeant Shalit will finally be released, as part of a larger prisoner swap, which will remove yet another pretext for the maintenance of the blockade. Speaking as someone who has lived in Gaza throughout my term with UNRWA, and who has known first-hand the best of its people on so many occasions, the longer the blockade is maintained, the harsher will be the suffering of its people, the deeper will be their grievances, and the more radicalized some will become. Surely that is not an outcome anyone would wish?

Mr. Chairman,

Solidarity with a suffering and wronged people can take many forms. It is expressed through lofty speeches on commemorative days such as this. It is seen through the many idealistic volunteers who travel to the West Bank and Gaza to work alongside Palestinians, to bear witness and offer moral and practical support, much as young Westerners used to flock to the kibbutzim of Israel before and soon after the June 1967 War.

It is also shown through the financial support that donor governments and private individuals give generously to voluntarily-funded organizations such as UNRWA that serve the Palestinian people in many concrete ways, to try and provide them with the services, opportunities and decent living conditions that are theirs by right.

On Wednesday this week, we shall have our annual Pledging Conference in the General Assembly. It would be timely, and extremely welcome, if UNRWA was to receive new pledges of support from unexpected quarters or else the announcement of increase in funding from those that have historically underperformed in this respect. The refugees and our 30,000-strong Palestinian staff, who live in great anxiety these days about the prospect of further reductions in their modest living standards, would be enormously relieved.

In closing, allow me to express my fervent conviction that through collective efforts and shared recognition of the justice of the Palestinian case for their own homeland, one day soon that noble goal will be achieved.

I thank you for your attention.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Letter dated 23 November 2009 from the Permanent Observer of Palestine to the United Nations addressed to the Secretary-General

Letter dated 23 November 2009 from the Permanent Observer of Palestine to the United Nations addressed to the Secretary-General (A/ES-10/470–S/2009/605)

General Assembly
Tenth emergency special session
Agenda item 5 Illegal
Israeli actions in Occupied East Jerusalem
and the rest of the Occupied Palestinian Territory

Security Council
Sixty-fourth year

The situation in the entirety of the Occupied Palestinian Territory in all its aspects remains critical, with conditions deteriorating and tensions rising daily. In this regard, the situation in the Gaza Strip is particularly grave.

It has been over two years since Israel, the occupying Power, began its illegal, inhumane blockade on the Gaza Strip; a blockade that has brought Gaza's economy to a grinding halt and has caused the socio-economic living standards for 1.7 million Palestinian civilians to plummet. The suffering of the civilian population was further deepened by the brutal, merciless military aggression waged on Gaza by the Israeli occupying forces. The wounds, scars and trauma inflicted by the series of Israeli assaults that wreaked human havoc and wanton physical destruction throughout the Gaza Strip continue to be felt to this day as the population remains under siege and reconstruction and recovery continue to be obstructed by the occupying Power. Successive Israeli military attacks, which peaked a year ago during the 22-day aggression, have killed and injured thousands of Palestinian civilians, including hundreds of children and women.

Today, while the memory of the Israeli atrocities in the last aggression are still fresh in our memory, Israel, the occupying Power, is attempting to further raise tensions and reignite the cycle of violence, with the attendant grave consequences.

On Sunday, 22 November 2009, in the early morning hours, Israeli warplanes struck several civilian targets in the Gaza Strip. These attacks injured eight Palestinian civilians and caused widespread trauma to the families living in the area. Israeli warplanes also targeted metal workshops in a densely populated neighbourhood in Jabaliya in the northern Gaza Strip and also struck areas in Nuseirat in central Gaza as well as other areas near the Rafah border in southern Gaza.

These attacks are stark manifestation of recent statements made by the Israeli military Chief of Staff, Gabi Ashkenazi, before high school students on Friday, 13 November 2009, when he clearly stated that war is Israel's response to United Nations General Assembly resolution 64/10 on the United Nations Fact-Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict (Goldstone Report). Ashkenazi said that "the Goldstone report deserves a response", and that Israel "must explain the justice of that war and explain that there is the possibility that we will be forced to act again". Such statements warrant the immediate attention of the international community as they constitute clear threats and indicate the blatant contempt Israeli leaders have towards the United Nations, international law and the lives of the Palestinian civilians under their occupation. Moreover, such statements reaffirm the deplorable mindset of impunity guiding the actions and policies of the occupying Power's political and military leadership.

It is also abundantly clear that Israel's intention is to deflect world attention from its ongoing illegal settlement campaign in the West Bank, particularly in and around Occupied East Jerusalem, by taking such provocative and violent actions in the Gaza Strip. Moreover, Israeli leaders have made it clear that they have not given any serious consideration to the findings and conclusions of the United Nations Fact-Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict, hence the threat of carrying out yet another merciless and destructive military aggression against the besieged and suffering civilian population in Gaza.

Israel is flagrantly rejecting and violating its obligation as a Member State to respect the General Assembly resolution on the Goldstone report by launching investigations into the serious violations of human rights law and grave breaches of international humanitarian law it committed during its military aggression against Gaza between December 2008 and January 2009. The international community must uphold its responsibilities in this regard and act to defend its expressed collective will and the integrity of the international system by ensuring Israeli compliance. Israel's disregard of civilian lives and of international law must be confronted directly, firmly and immediately. Standing idly by while such threats and actions continue can only encourage the occupying Power to add another long list of war crimes to its heavy dossier. Palestinian children in Gaza, who are still suffering trauma from Israel's last war, deserve a principled international position to ensure that they are spared further undue suffering.

This letter is in follow-up to our previous 349 letters to you regarding the ongoing crisis in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, since 28 September 2000. These letters, dated from 29 September 2000 (A/55/432- S/2000/921) to 18 November 2009 (A/ES-10/469-S/2009/598), constitute a basic record of the crimes being committed by Israel, the occupying Power, against the Palestinian people since September 2000. For all of these war crimes, acts of State terrorism and systematic human rights violations committed against the Palestinian people, Israel, the occupying Power, must be held accountable and the perpetrators must be brought to justice.

I should be grateful if you would arrange to have the text of the present letter distributed as a document of the tenth emergency special session of the General Assembly, under agenda item 5, and of the Security Council.

(Signed) Riyad Mansour
Permanent Observer of Palestine to the United Nations

Israel needs to be held accountable for its racism before it becomes a precedent for other countries to follow.

Thursday, December 3rd, 2009,
Ethnic cleansing, pure and simple

Israel stripped over 4,500 Jerusalemite Palestinians of their “residency rights” in 2008.

This marks a huge acceleration of a policy that has been in force since Israel occupied East Jerusalem in 1967. In these 41 years, Israel has now stripped over 12,000 Palestinians of their “permits” to live in Jerusalem, 35 per cent or so of those in 2008 alone.

It also maps out exactly where the current right-wing Israeli government, which has made no secret of its wish to Judaise Jerusalem, a travesty of history if ever there was one, is heading.

The policy shows many things about Israel to anyone who wants to see. One is this: Israel does not even bother to pretend to adhere to any kind of international law or internationally accepted standards for behaviour towards a population under occupation.

East Jerusalem, Israel’s unilateral and unrecognised annexation notwithstanding, is occupied territory (indeed, all of Jerusalem remains, under international law, a corpus separatum). As such, the residents of Jerusalem and their descendants have their right of residency guaranteed under international law.

They cannot be stripped of that right simply because of some arbitrary rule that Israel made up about having to prove your “centre of life” is in Jerusalem and not being absent for too long. After all, what kind of uproar would there be if Jews who live in Israel were similarly stripped of their residency rights in America, Poland, Germany or wherever they are originally from?

But of course, the key here is that the Palestinians of Jerusalem are not Jews. And that is what this is all about. There is no way to sugar coat what Israel is doing here. It is ethnic cleansing, pure and simple. It is not quick and dramatic like in 1948, when many people were forced to flee at the point of a gun. Rather, it is slow and administrative, forced out by the stroke of a pen.

There is no excuse for this kind of behaviour. There is certainly no excuse for international inaction over the issue. Israel will claim that Palestinians in Jerusalem would not face this problem if they accepted Israeli citizenship rather than the “residency permit” the colonising power is issuing the indigenous population. But that is tantamount to forcing Palestinians to accept an illegal occupation of their land.

What next? All visitors to Jerusalem will have to sign a paper acknowledging Israel’s “eternal right to Jerusalem” before being allowed to enter?

Israel needs to be held accountable for its racism before it becomes a precedent for other countries to follow.

3 December 2009