The Transformation of Palestine

The Transformation of Palestine

The Transformation of Palestine

The Temple Mount in Jerusalem (Photo: Christian Sterzing)
The Temple Mount in Jerusalem (Photo: Christian Sterzing)

Conference and Dossier

Palestine and the Palestinians 60 Years after the "Nakba"

The historic event of the formation of Israel had, however, far-reaching consequences not only for the Jewish people and the yishuv, the Jewish community in the British mandate territory of Palestine, but also for the Arab-Palestinian people. Around 800,000 Palestinians had to leave their home during the 1948-49 war either because they were driven out or forced to flee. 170,000 stayed in Israel, became citizens of Israel and, with approx. 1.3 million, have become a minority in the Jewish state over the last 60 years. Since then, the refugees of the Nakba ("catastrophe") and their children have lived in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, in the Arab states of the Middle East and scattered throughout the entire world. Their numbers are estimated to be at least 4 to 5 million. Their day-to-day realities could hardly be more different. 2.4 million have lived for more than 40 years under Israeli occupation in the West Bank, 1.4 million under Israeli siege in the Gaza Strip, millions more live in the countries of Jordan, Lebanon and Syria next to Israel. In 2008, the UNRWA counted a total of roughly 4.6 million Palestinian refugees (this figure was 914,000 in 1950). Only a small percentage has managed to integrate. Others have started new lives, most of them in the Arab Gulf states, in Europe and North and Latin America.

The geographic and social fragmentation of the Palestinian people is essentially a result of the conflict in the Middle East. But 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. Because the political-diplomatic efforts for a peaceful solution to the Middle East conflict are still dominated by the decades-long debate over a two-state solution which also finds its legitimacy under international law in the 1947 UN partition plan, it is time to take a closer look at the Palestinian people and their development, which is characterized by many contradictions, development over the last 60 years. 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 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.

In our dossier you find the conference papers of the invited experts. Furthermore, we offer a few links to publications of the invited experts in our description of the conference sessions.

Gallery

Conference Papers

Opening remarks

The Transformation of Palestine

- March 8, 2010 - In the coming two days, this international symposium in the Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung will take a close look at the Palestinian history and it significance for today’s politics and life conditions of its people. A distinguished group of Palestinian political representatives, international officials, Palestinian and international researchers, will contribute to an analytical debate of the complexity of historic and current Palestinian existence.  Opening remarks by Barbara Unmüßig more»

Conference Paper

The Two Palestinian National Movements today: The process of converging of the “secular” Fateh and the “religious” Hamas

- March 12, 2010 - The perception is widely held that Fateh represents secularism, enlightened and modern secularism, open to the West, reformist, capable for democratic transformation and Hamas represents fundamentalism, backward, traditional (if looked at positively), anti-Western, pro-Iran, authoritarian, incapable for democratic transformation, simply using democratic slogans in order to reach power. By Helga Baumgarten more»

Conference Paper

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

- March 12, 2010 - Diversity, Unity, and Fragmentation are three terms that have been dominating the Palestinian political discourse since the emergence of the Palestinian National Movement in the twentieth century. The internal Palestinian division since June 2007 has given more intensity to the discussion about Diversity, Unity, and Fragmentation. By Salah Abdel Shafi more»

Conference Paper

Islam versus Secularism in Palestine: Hamas vs. Fatah

- March 12, 2010 - The clash between secularism and Islam in Palestine dates back to the beginning of the Palestinian Israeli conflict more than sixty years ago. The current split between the PA and Hamas will not be resolved in the foreseeable future, and a national unity government reunifying the West Bank and Gaza is not within sight. By Mkhaimar Abusada more»

Conference Paper

Occupied Palestine between Neo-Patrimonialism (Fateh), Technocratic State-Building (Salam Fay-yad), the Rule of Political Islam (Hamas), and Rents from the West and the East

- March 11, 2010 - There is and there cannot be any democracy or the development of a democratic system under occupation. It follows, therefore, that in our discussion today we can only pose the question about the amount of freedom needed to end occupation and build a free society and, perhaps eventually, achieve the “dream” of a democratic state in Palestine. By Helga Baumgarten more»

Conference Paper

Palestinian Economy – From Asymmetrical Dependency to Regional Cooperation?

- March 8, 2010 - State-building as an indigenous process in entities emerging from violent conflicts is a growing issue not only in conflict studies, but in Development policy and in Development Economics. There are a growing number of studies related to post-conflict scenarios. The situation in Palestinian West Bank and Gaza Strip (WBGS) is hardly a “post-conflict” situation with a conflict sensitive economy and economic development. By Dr. Sabine Hofmann more»

Conference paper

Predicament of a Different Order: Palestine Refugees under Occupation

- March 3, 2010 - Refugees under occupation - nowhere else in the world are these three words combined to describe the living reality of nearly two million people. But for Palestine refugees in the occupied Palestinian territory, these words have for more than 40 years captured the essence of a doubly deprived existence caught in a political im-passe, denied basic human rights, and largely removed from the international agenda. By John Ging more»

Conference paper

The Transformation of Palestine

- March 3, 2010 - The Palestinian-Israeli conflict was born at the end of last century as a result of "incompatible national aspirations" between the indigenous population of Palestine (the Palestinians) and the Zionist movement over the land of Palestine. By Dr. Samir Awad more»

Conference paper

Religion and Politics in Palestine: Debates about Islam and the Hamas-Fatah Schism

- March 3, 2010 - The Palestinian schism is often referred to as a deep one that pits a secular nationalist movement (centered around Fatah) against a religious movement (centered around Hamas). In his paper, Nathan J. Brown suggests by contrast that the division is not as deep as is often assumed but it is exceedingly wide. By Nathan J. Brown more»

Conference paper

Ideology and Practice in the Legal System in Gaza under Hamas

- March 3, 2010 - Nicolas Pelham concludes, that an end to western, Palestinian and Israeli isolation of Gaza and an improvement in Gaza’s lot generally, is likely to empower groups with external connections, and impede rather than accelerate Gaza’s Islamisation. By contrast, the alternative - of maintaining the closure - is likely to hasten the application of Sharia norms. By Nicolas Pelham more»

Conference paper

The Palestinians, the Arab States and Israel

- March 3, 2010 - The struggle for Palestine first emerged as a significant issue in the neighboring Arab countries and the wider Arab world in the second half of the 1930s, largely as a consequence of the 1936-1939 Palestinian Arab revolt against the Zionist project and British colonial rule which protected and fostered it. By Zachary Lockman more»

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