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A Vision for Palestinian Womens Rights Organizations based on the Global Study on the Implementation of UNSCR 1325
(Ten strategies for tackling issues pertaining to Women, Peace and Security)
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Date posted: March 07, 2018
By MIFTAH

On Tuesday, March 6, the Palestinian Initiative for the Promotion of Global Dialogue and Democracy MIFTAH, organized its annual conference in Ramallah and Gaza via video conference. The conference is supported by the Representative Office of Norway and seeks to discuss the implications of the regional and international developments on the future of the Palestinian cause, as well as propose scenarios and alternatives to the Palestinians from womens and youth perspectives.

The conference convened in the presence and participation of various societal groups and sectors to discuss and propose alternatives to confront the impasse and existential challenges ahead. This requires taking the lead through an inclusive national gathering, where women and youth play a central role in drawing conclusions and recommendations that identify future directions in the Palestinian cause.

The conference was opened by MIFTAH CEO Dr. Lily Feidy in which she reaffirmed that womens rights were an integral part of human rights. Feidy also called for more emphasis to be put on the issue of Jerusalem. Jerusalem is not only about holy sites, it is about its citizens, its institutions and civilization. We must support it and work towards reopening its institutions, first and foremost the Orient House, she said.

Following Feidy, Norwegian representative in Palestine Hilde , Hilde Haraldstad reiterated the support of the Norwegian Representative Office for the rights of Palestinian women and youth, noting her countrys support for the two-state solution and the establishment of a Palestinian state through negotiations.

She commended the role Palestine played in signing the CEDAW agreement and also expressed appreciation for the decisions recently made by the Council of Ministers in amending laws and granting rights to women. She said Norway feels a responsibility towards following up on priorities pertaining to gender and youth and supporting dialogue.

Haraldstad continued that in its capacity as president of the ad hoc liaison committee for donor aid to the Palestinian people (AHLC), Norway was now preparing to hold a donor conference on March 20, which will focus on mechanisms for improving the difficult situation in the Gaza Strip.

In conclusion, Haraldstad said Norway would continue to support Palestinian government and civil institutions.

In the first session, PLO Executive Committee member Dr. Hanan Ashrawi, presented an overview of the nature of regional and international changes and their impact on the Palestinian situation and available options. She pointed out that there was no just political solution in the near future, which therefore required strengthened internal Palestinian steadfastness, an end to the division and confrontation of Israels racist policies and plans.

Ashrawi pointed out that the US bias had developed into complicity with the occupation, calling for more cooperation and networking with American and international institutions and figures opposed to the US Presidents policies towards the Palestinian cause.

She also stressed that the Palestinian leadership has a responsibility to enable its people to remain steadfast and to provide the requirements for good governance so they can confront the challenges facing their legitimate rights.

Dr. Naser Al-Qudweh, member of Fatah Central Committee member, presented proposed and available political scenarios. He said in light of the deadlock in political prospects and reaching a just solution, we must focus efforts on promoting the legal status of the State of Palestine and create irreversible political realities and facts.

He reaffirmed the need to confront Israels colonialist settlement project given that it represents an existential threat to the Palestinian people in their homeland.

He also criticized repeated talk about ending the division and regaining national unity, calling for serious and responsible action to achieve this.

In the final session, Dr. Azmi Shuaibi, consultant to AMANs Board of Directors, pointed to the need to invest in the points of strength in Palestinian society. He called for a formula that would allow the use of this strength in confronting the Zionist project within a clear plan that requires youth to propose a vision that would allow them to confront and ultimately derail this project. This, he maintained, necessitated the restoration of national unity and an end to the division.

Shuaibi called on Palestinian youth to develop a clear and unified vision to promote their role at all levels and not to limit this to demanding proportional representation, explaining that their representation would come from their struggle and from proposing specific visions.

The areas of focus of the conference were presented in two different sessions. The sessions presented womens and youth visions to address political challenges, the impasse in national reconciliation and ending political division from two angles:

First: strengthening the internal front. The attendees noted the absence of broad societal sectors from national reconciliation dialogues, despite the disproportionate impact the political division has on women and youth. This is based on a number of studies and working papers recently completed by MIFTAH, which focused on the absence of a protection and participation system for both groups.

The second angle focused on available scenarios to Palestinians at the international level and the identification of national priorities and alternatives from womens and youth perspectives.

The participants emphasized that confronting internal challenges and regional and international developments, particularly with respect to the positions of the current American administration, requires an expansion beyond the parameters of the Palestinian political determinants. This is through launching a national effort that various Palestinian societal sectors in all places of residency contribute to, with women and youth at the forefront. This includes the building of alliances with international congregations and American civil society organizations to confront the policies of the American administration towards the Palestinian cause.

The attendees emphasized the right of the Palestinian people to establish their independent state on Palestinian territory and enjoy full sovereignty. This is in addition to granting the Palestinian people their right to truly and effectively participate in their self-determination, and emphasizing the refusal to deny the Palestinian people their right to national decision-making in existential issues. This includes leaving any decision or procedure pertaining to national and inalienable rights and positions to the public will through a referendum. This also includes an emphasis on the right of the Palestinian people to choose their representatives through free, fair and transparent elections.

Thus, the conference stressed on the need for a unified national strategy, developed through a participatory approach with all political and social actors in addressing current challenges and adopting national scenarios. This requires refraining from exclusively limiting options to negotiations and armed resistance and claiming new creative forms of struggle that respond to current challenges. Additionally, the conference asserts that the boycott approach is a viable national mechanism and a form of popular and official resistance.

The conference calls for activating and reforming the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO), through resuming the meetings of the preparatory committee of the Palestinian National Council (PNC). This also includes following up on the decisions made in their meeting in Beirut, Lebanon in January, 2017 and identifying a timeframe that does not extend beyond 2018 to conduct comprehensive legislative, presidential and PNC elections. The elections should take place in accordance with full proportional representation, whenever possible, as well as promote political pluralism, build a democratic polity that abides by the rule of law, separation of powers, guarantee public freedoms, and ensure conforming to principles of integrity and transparency in the management of public affairs. This also requires the restoration of the role of youth entities, particularly the General Union of Palestinian Students, taking into consideration the structure and duties of the Higher Council for Youth and Sports. Additionally, this includes encouraging youth unions to convene their conferences and ensure the representation of youth and women in their administrative structures.

The attendants emphasized the need to open a national dialogue to discuss the decisions of the Palestinian Central Council and adopt mechanisms to implement them. This dialogue would also help to develop practical and operational steps towards restoring national unity as a priority to persevere in the struggle to end the occupation, as well as lifting the siege off Gaza, removing obstacles that impede reconciliation efforts, and addressing issues pertaining to the basic humanitarian needs in the Gaza Strip.

The womens movement confirmed the need to create committees to monitor the work of national reconciliation committees. These committees would also declare clear positions on the discussions and decisions taken in reconciliation meetings, as well as blacklisting all those who impeding national reconciliation.

The conference recommends the following:

  • Follow-up on attaining full membership in the United Nations and joining international organizations. In particular, this includes the 22 organizations the PA previously pledged to the American administration that it would not join; pressuring the International Criminal Court to open an investigation into the issue of settlements.

  • Develop a unified national strategy engaging all political and social actors. This should promote the participation of youth, women, unions and national figures within the framework of the PLO in leading the national struggle.

  • Advance the role of the Palestinian people in protecting national achievements and defending the national strategy. This also includes resisting the agenda that seeks to compromise the Palestinian cause, through national mobilization. Possible mechanisms towards this end include revival of political symposia, neighborhood committees and action committees as tools of political mobilization.

  • Improve the relationship with Palestinian delegations abroad, and enhance its role in networking and engaging with their societies. This should contribute to lobbying their governments to support the rights of the Palestinian people, disseminate the Palestinian narrative, stress national inalienable positions, and advance the role of Palestinian embassies and representatives abroad.

  • Examine available alternatives and scenarios by researchers, research centers and politicians to disengage from treaties signed with the occupation authorities, including the Paris Protocol. This includes engaging with international organizations directly in an attempt to open up the Palestinian market and prevent its subordination to the occupation. Therefore initiating dialogue on relevant issues is required, with due consideration to ensuring the representation of women and youth. The dialogue shall examine and propose alternatives and scenarios to the Palestinian people on the exclusive American mediation of the political process.

Arabic ...

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