Included in this issue, among others, is an analysis of the political context on the eve of the Annapolis Meeting and the need for Palestinian and international civil societies to build an anti-apartheid movement, including the Boycott-Divestment-Sanction (BDS) campaign, in order to hold Israel to account for its continued violations of international law. A comparative analysis of the Bosnian and Palestinian peace agreements examines how peace agreements have addressed remedies for the crime of population transfer, while another article discusses the role of refugees in bringing about an 'agreed upon' solution to the refugee question. Based on the concept of a responsibility to protect, an overview is presented of the actions states and international organizations can undertake to end Israel's violations of human rights and humanitarian law. Finally, the emerging principle of universal jurisdiction and its applicability to the Palestinian case is examined.
60 years after India's partition and the failed UN partition plan for Palestine, other articles in this issue explore Israel's manipulative use of the Indian case to justify its discriminatory regime in Palestine, assess the importance of building a Palestine lobby in the US, and report about current forced displacement of Palestinians, as well as recent efforts at building accountability.
Will the US-led Annapolis meeting fail, succeed, or even happen at all? Whatever the answer, one thing is clear: there is again no accountable process based on international law. In other words, the 'best' outcome will be another meaningless peace process, because it fails to take into account international law and best practice.
Veiled in secrecy, the preparations of the US-sponsored international Middle East peace meeting in Annapolis, Maryland, give rise to rumors and conflicting messages. As always, the parties themselves screen optimism, and President Bush has declared the Palestinian state to be a foreign policy interest of the United States. Still, things have apparently not yet fallen into place. While a joint Israeli-PA statement suggests progress towards an agenda that will “address all core issues” (Haaretz, 18 October), it is common knowledge that Israel is unwilling to go for a detailed agreement.
Former special Mid-East adviser to European Union’s Foreign Policy Chief, Javier Solana, and adviser to the International Quartet
Alastair Crooke facilitated various Israeli-Palestinian ceasefires during 2001-2003; he was instrumental in the negotiations leading to the ending of the siege on the Church of Nativity in Bethlehem and mediated in the negotiations leading to the cease fire declared by Hamas and Islamic Jihad in June 2003. He was a staff member of President Clinton’s Fact Finding Committee, led by Senator Mitchell, into the causes of the Second Intifada and has had direct experience of conflict over aperiod of 30 years in Ireland, South Africa, Namibia, Afghanistan and Colombia. He is currently co-director of Conflicts Forum based in Beirut.
In recent years it has become increasingly common to emphasize that any solution to the Palestinian refugee question must be agreed upon. The Arab peace initiative and the Road Map both call for an agreed upon solution. This appears to be a common sense approach to resolving what the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) describesas “[b]y far the most protracted and largest of all refugee problems in the world today.”(1) Solutions that are agreed upon, in contrast to imposed ones, are widely seen to be more durable, not least of which is due to the broad ownership that such approaches tend to generate.(2) The question is: agreed upon by whom? What role, if any, do refugees themselves have?
Already in 1863, the U.S. Civil War-era Lieber Code, which influenced the subsequent Hague Conventions, instructed that, in our modern age, “private citizens are no longer carried off to distant parts.”(1) That claim now appears majestically naïve and tragically premature. At a time when the UN Subcommission on Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities was considering the human rights dimensions of “population transfer,”(2)
"The fundamental idea behind justice is to dignify the memory of our deceased. It is to dignify the children, the women, the elders who were annihilated through genocide, those who were kidnapped, those who were disappeared, those who were tortured."
- Rigoberta Menchú, 1992 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate (1)
Al-Lajjun villagers continue their struggle
Lying at the foot of the plain of Marj ibn Amr, an ancient crossroads where the road from Haifa and Lebanon crosses the Damascus to Cairo thoroughfare, the village of al-Lajjun has a long history of political significance. In 1516 when the Ottomans took the area from Mamluk control, Lajjun was one of five district (liwa) towns in Palestine. During the British Mandate villagers played a significant role in the Arab Revolt–the anti-colonial struggle of 1936-1939. This legacy of resistance is proudly remembered by today’s villagers fighting a legal battle from their position as internally displaced only 6 kilometers down the road.
15 August 2007 marked the 60th anniversary of India's partition. However, little attention was paid by Palestinians this summer to the ways in which governments and people of India, Pakistan and Bangladesh tackled the legacy of "their" partition, a violent event whose repercussions are apparent 60 years on. Having shared similar struggles for decolonization and freedom from the same British imperial power, and traumatic and formative partition experiences, the peoples of pre-1947 India and Palestine have taken little notice of each other's apparently similar historical tragedies.
Palestinian human rights advocates have written off the U.S. Congress as an agent for positive change in the lives of Palestinians. Rightly so, advocates for Palestinian human rights have been disillusioned by the deluge of biased legislation and the incessant waves of military aid provided to Israel. However, dismissing Congress is not an option. Although grassroots, media, and legal activism can tarnish the U.S.’s foreign policy in the Middle East, such admirable efforts cannot change it. To the contrary, Congress can reverse the gains made by advocates in one fell swoop. Harvesting the gains of grassroots, media, and legal advocacy will require a complementary legislative strategy.
Badil Resource Center submitted two statements to the sixth session of the Human Rights Council, held in Geneva between 10-28 September 2007.