Documenting Land Ownership in the Palestinian Authority

by Michael R. Fischbach
published in MER202

The Protocol Concerning Civil Affairs, an annex to the Israeli-Palestinian Interim Agreement on the West Bank and the Gaza Strip of September 1995, formalized the process by which Israeli authorities would transfer responsibility over land matters to the Palestinian Authority (PA). The first Oslo agreement had called for the establishment of a “Palestinian Land Authority” that could administer property matters in the areas under Palestinian self-rule. These matters include registration, surveying, and state and “absentee” lands. [1]

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Dis/Solving the "Refugee Problem"

by Rosemary Sayigh
published in MER207

“A displaced person owns nothing but the spot where he is standing, which is always threatened.” -- Murid Barghouti

Israeli power, US backing, Palestinian weakness, Arab complicity -- these are the basic ingredients for a coercive settlement of the “refugee problem” based not on refugees’ rights but on their disappearance. The “new Middle East” must be tidied up; states, citizens and borders must correspond; disruptive anomalies must be removed. Because of their centrality to regional instability, eliminating the Palestinian refugees is essential to a pacified Middle East free to fulfill its designated role in the global economy.

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Fifty Years Through the Eyes of "New Historians" in Israel

by Ilan Pappe
published in MER207

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Burj al-Barajna Dispatch

by Reem Kelani
published in MER210

After making my way through the rubble and squalor of the overcrowded refugee camp near Beirut’s International Airport, I arrived half an hour late for my appointment with Umm Muhammad, a local living repository of Palestinian folk song traditions.

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Memories of Birth

An Excerpt

by Diana Abu-Jaber
published in MER211

I never knew that cold could burn. It was a wild wind and my fingers were numb and clumsy. I fumbled with the sheet of paper, turning the page over and over. It was little more than tatters now, covered in smeared ink. My mother wrote all the instructions for me on this page and I held it in the palm of my hand since the day I had left home. Now it seemed the words had dissolved in the ship’s mist and the heat of my skin. I stood on the pavement, still feeling the pulse of the waves in my legs. I stared at the shell-curves of her Arabic letters, intricate as nautilus chambers.

I had forgotten how to read Arabic.

The Politics of Aid to Iraqi Refugees in Jordan

by Nicholas Seeley
published in MER256

The school in Dahiyat Amir Hasan in East Amman is only half-finished, but even through the rubble and the clouds of concrete dust it is clear that the education there will be very different than in Jordan’s other government-run schools. The classrooms are spacious and positioned around multi-purpose areas that can be used for team teaching or supervised recreation. Downstairs there are science labs equipped with vapor hoods, sinks and Bunsen burners, and set up for students to conduct experiments in groups. There is a gym, an art studio and a music chamber -- none of which facilities are standard in Jordanian public schools. The corresponding subjects, in fact, are often left out of the curriculum.

Dismantling the Matrix of Control

by Jeff Halper | published September 11, 2009

Almost a decade ago I wrote an article describing Israel’s “matrix of control” over the Occupied Palestinian Territories. It consisted then of three interlocking systems: military administration of much of the West Bank and incessant army and air force intrusions elsewhere; a skein of “facts on the ground,” notably settlements in the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem, but also bypass roads connecting the settlements to Israel proper; and administrative measures like house demolitions and deportations. I argued in 2000 that unless this matrix was dismantled, the occupation would not be ended and a two-state solution could not be achieved.

Descent into Disaster?

Afghan Refugees

by Margaret Emery , Hiram Ruiz
published in MER221

On October 19, 2001, Iran agreed to build camps to accommodate new refugees fleeing US bombing and internal chaos in Afghanistan. This was the first piece of good news for relief workers concerned that Operation Enduring Freedom is accelerating the descent of Afghanistan's decades-old refugee crisis into a humanitarian disaster of untold proportions.

Refugees in Their Own Country

by Maggy Zanger
published in MER222

Six bodies uncovered in February during construction on an old Iraqi army base in Iraqi Kurdistan were grim reminders of the Ba'th regime's past genocidal policies towards the Kurds. "The past is ever present in Kurdistan," as one Kurdish journalist says. But little reminder is needed of past atrocities when the present provides an ongoing illustration.

Opening the Debate on the Right of Return

by Sari Hanafi
published in MER222

A decade after Oslo, Palestinian negotiators have reached an impasse in the debate concerning refugee return. The discussion should be opened to creative ideas beyond the sacred positions. New ideas, even those that won’t work, can shake loose new possibilities.