Conference Sessions

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Conference Sessions

Photo: Christian Sterzing

The conference "The Transformation of Palestine – Palestine and the Palestinians 60 Years after the 'Nakba'" is divided into five thematic sessions. If you are looking for a printable version, please download the Session paper as PDF.

1. Diversity in Unity? Fragmentation of the Palestinian People and the Fight for Unity

Guiding Questions:

The geographic and social fragmentation of the Palestinian people is essentially a result of the conflict in the Middle East. Which historical change processes have the Palestinians experienced as a result of urbanization and industrialization, modernization and globalization? To what extent is their social structure affected by the conditions and consequences of the Middle East conflict? How did a wide variety of other change processes – economic, social, gender-specific, political - have affected the societal development of the Palestinians over the last few decades and shape the reality of their fragmented existence? How do the different environments that Palestinians live in affect their political ideas? Millions of Palestinian refugees still live today in refugee camps and insist on their right of return guaranteed under international law. Within the framework of a final status agreement, the goal will not just be to find a viable solution for the people living in the historic region of Mandate Palestine. The right of Palestinian refugees to return has been the subject of numerous UN resolutions. Thus, the extremely different realities of refugees will also be analyzed and their prospects for the future discussed. What is the social reality of Palestinian refugees in the Arab states? What is the UNRWA – the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East – doing? What are the reasons for the successful/unsuccessful integration of refugees? How did the Nakba shape the Palestinian social, political and cultural life? Is the PLO still today the "legitimate representative of the Palestinian people"?  Does the PLO as a Palestinian umbrella organization still play a role in uniting the Palestinians?

Conference Papers:

Further Links:

2. Domination and Deformation – Living under the Occupation

Guiding Questions:

2.4 million Palestinians have lived for more than 40 years under Israeli occupation in the West Bank, 1.4 million under Israeli siege in the Gaza Strip (since 2006). How did the exodus of 1948 and 1967 change the socio-economic and political structure in the Palestinian territories? How did the reality of the occupation shape the social and political fabric of life in the territories? What role does the occupation policy play in the development of an independent Palestinian economy? Is there a trend in their society toward Islamization and/or pluralization? What role do the traditional family and clan structures play today? How did the relation between ‘inside’ and ‘outside’ leadership change? Do traditional, conservative and religious concepts of society jeopardize the hard-won emancipatory progress against occupation and male domination? What are the effects of Israel's policy of separation?

Conference Papers:

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3. On the Waiting List? Democracy in Palestine

Guiding Questions:

The so called Road Map (2003) is calling for a ‘democratic Palestinian state’, a ‘strong parliamentary democracy’ with ‘free, fair and open elections’ and democratic reform of the institutions. Did the development of a democratic society make any progress after the elections in 2005-2006? What about the democratic developments within the Palestinian movements and factions? What are the difficulties of institution building under occupation? What kind of impact do traditional family and clan structures have on the democratic development? What is the likelihood of the development of democratic and civil structures in the conditions of occupation and political divisions in Palestine? What is the role of civil society organizations in the territories? What are the differences between the First and the Second Intifada from a democratic point of view? Are there differences between a western styled democracy and Palestinian visions of a democratic state? Where are the most urgent needs for democratizing the Palestinian society? What about the role of women and women’s organizations in the democratic process? Do Palestinians envisage a multiparty democracy for the future as mentioned in the Roadmap? International organizations are  supporting the development of democratic structures in the territories. Did the external democracy promotion help to make progress?

Conference Papers:

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4. Fighting in and for the Holy Land? Secularism and Religion in Palestine

Guiding Questions:

Did Islam play a role in the Palestinian liberation movement? Since years we are witnessing a growing influence of Islam and Islamist movements in the Arab world. Is there a trend in the Palestinian society toward Islamization as well? Does Islamization and/or pluralization shape the future of the Palestinian society? What are the reasons for the rise of Hamas and how does the future look for inner-Palestinian conflicts? Is Hamas primarily a national resistance movement or an Islamic movement? Is the rivalry between Hamas and Fatah a fight between Islamist and secular forces and diverging concepts of a Palestinian state? How does religion and religious debates play into the rivalry and division? How does the Palestinian Basic Law define the relationship between religion and state institutions, secular law and sharia? Is the Charta of Hamas still relevant? Is anti-Semitism an integral part of the Hamas ideology? What does Hamas's record in governing in Gaza tell us about its pursuit of an Islamic agenda? Are there any chances of bridging the diverging views during the process of national dialogue?

Conference Papers:

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5. The Vision of a Palestinian State - Palestine, the Arab States and the International Community

Guiding Questions:

The vision of a Palestinian has changed over the decades. And the international attitude towards building an independent viable Palestinian alongside Israel has changed as well. What is the reason for these changes? What are the prevailing conceptions of a Palestinian state today? Two-state- versus one-state-solution? Who is opposing the vision of a Palestinian state? Who does support this vision? What should be the central elements of a future Palestinian state? How do the Arab states view the Palestinian state? The international community has expressed its support for the two-state-solution many times. What is necessary to implement this solution?

Conference Papers:

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