Settlement Expansion Update

by Michael Webb
published in MER201

With the recent election of the Netanyahu government, the issue of settlements has again emerged in the media as an issue in the “peace process.” Settlement leaders have proposed spending $4 billion to expand settlements by as many as 120,000 housing units to accommodate an additional 500,000 people by the year 2000. Ariel Sharon recently proposed immediately allowing 100,000 new settlers to settle the West Bank. The new government has already transferred $6.5 million for the construction of bypass roads, and announced the immediate construction of 3,800 new housing units on the West Bank. Netanyahu claims that the Oslo agreement’s wording is loose enough that this in no way violates the final status negotiations.

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Electoral Systems and Democracy

Palestinian and South African Elections Compared

by Hady Amr
published in MER201

This year has witnessed some important electoral developments in the Middle East and surrounding areas, with elections being held in Palestine, Israel, Turkey, Bangladesh and Bosnia. [1] Some of these elections have been especially interesting in terms of what they have revealed about the potential for electoral systems -- the rules by which winners are determined -- to shape public policy, communal identity and how groups -- be they ethnic, religious or political -- interact. The different electoral systems newly instituted in Palestine and South Africa have had a profound impact on shaping electoral outcomes in their respective political systems and, arguably, on social and political policy and communal identity.

Thwarting Palestinian Development

by Jennifer Olmsted
published in MER201

The preamble of the Protocol on Economic Relations between the Government of the State of Israel and the PLO, signed on May 4, 1994, states:

This protocol lays the groundwork for strengthening the economic base of the Palestinian side and for exercising its right of economic decision making in accordance with its own development plan and for exercising its right of economic decision making in accordance with its own development plan and priorities.” [1]

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Palestinian Political Prisoners

by Yifat Susskind
published in MER201

Since the Oslo accords came into effect in May 1994, Israel’s treatment of Palestinian political prisoners has been a litmus test for a viable, just end to the Israeli occupation. Today the prisoners’ crisis continues to reflect an agreement that entrenches Israel’s remote control over Palestinians and commissions Yasser Arafat to deliver local compliance with the new order.

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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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Commodifying Honor in Female Sexuality

Honor Killing in Palestine

by Suzanne Ruggi
published in MER206

Every year, hundreds of women and girls are murdered in the Middle East by male family members. The honor killing -- the execution of a female family member for perceived misuse of her sexuality -- is a thorny social and political issue. Palestinian activists campaigning for equality find it difficult to stop the killings altogether. Legitimacy for such murders stems from a complex code of honor ingrained in the consciousness of some sectors of Palestinian society.

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Rediscovering Palestine

by Ussama Makdisi
published in MER211

Beshara Doumani, Rediscovering Palestine: Merchants and Peasants in Jabal Nablus, 1700-1900 (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1995)

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Palestine at the UN: An Alternative Strategy

by Mouin Rabbani | published November 19, 2010

As Israeli-Palestinian negotiations lurch from crisis to crisis, Palestinian Authority (PA) leaders have been suggesting they may go to the United Nations to seek resolutions confirming the illegality of Israel’s settlements in the Occupied Territories and recognizing a reality of Palestinian statehood.

Economic Prison Zones

by Sam Bahour | published November 19, 2010

When a project mixes the feel-good words of jobs, economic development and Israeli-Palestinian cooperation, how can anyone complain? These things are some of what the international community has been promising to deliver through the construction of industrial free trade zones in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. The free trade zone model has been promoted locally and globally by powerful third parties like the United States, France, Germany, Turkey and Japan for two decades, but none has much to show for the enormous efforts and amounts of money spent to bring these zones to life. Nonetheless, the project’s proponents expect the zones to constitute the economic foundation for a future Palestinian state. They hope that, by bolstering Palestine’s economy, the zones will make Palestinians less prone to social upheaval, less insistent on their national rights and more amenable to the status quo. The idea is that a peace agreement with Israel will ensue.

Economics of Palestinian Return Migration

by Ward Sayre , Jennifer Olmsted
published in MER212

Palestinians living in the West Bank and Gaza have faced a series of economic shocks since the Gulf war. Each shock alone would have been difficult to weather, but combined they have led to a considerable worsening of economic conditions. These shocks included the Gulf war, Israeli closures of the West Bank and Gaza, and the influx of diaspora Palestinians after the Oslo accords. While the first two clearly had negative consequences, the last is more complex. The repatriation of diaspora Palestinians has led to a reversal of the “brain drain,” and an influx of much needed capital. Yet the impact of this spending has been disappointing and widening economic inequality may have resulted.