Issue 32-33


Intifada and Resistance versus Oslo and September 11

     By just looking at the machinations of the Arab-Israeli conflict, it can be argued that there are two competing Arab programs with regards to finding a just solution to the Palestinian problem. The first is based on confrontation with the Israeli occupation on the military, political and media levels, including economic sanctions and boycott of the Zionist entity.

     The second is based on finding a political solution and requiring negotiations, which is also dependent on the good deeds and intentions of the Israelis. It requires a political track strategy for the settling of the conflict and the giving up of the military option.

     The political settlement approach dominated Fatah and PLO thinking and began to materialize during the first Intifada that began from 1987 till 1993. These groups made a strategic decision to reach a deal with the Israelis, first unveiled on 31st August 1993 and become known as the Oslo Declaration, and officially signed in Washington on 13 September 1993. The Declaration represented serious political concessions by both the Palestinian and Israeli sides.

     The last five years of the second intifada (2000-2005) revitalized the rivalry between those who wanted a political solution and those who stated Palestinian aims could only be achieved through armed struggle. Hence, the military wings of the Palestinian factions escalated their operations against the occupation forces.

     However, the September 11th 2001 attacks on New York and Washington obstructed the developing dynamics of Palestinian resistance. The Israelis used the new deteriorating international political and security situation to put the Palestinian resistance groups on a terror list that was being formed. And hence the main Palestinian factions were classified as terrorist organizations by the United States and the European Union.

     The other program based on a political settlement breathed freely but heavily during the last five years of the Intifada despite the brutal and terroristic behavior of Israeli soldiers against the Palestinian people and overshadowed the peace overtures of the Palestinian leadership.  The Israelis for instance put the late PLO leader Yasser Arafat under house arrest and struck heavily against the Arab comprehensive initiative that offered peace and normalization. Instead Israel, continued to launch deadly incursions on Palestinian cities and killing and wounding hundreds of innocent people including children and women.

     It was plain for all to see. Arab public opinion concluded that Israel was not nor is willing to have any sort of peace despite the critical concessions made by Arab leaders.

      The normalization process, the signing of peace agreements and the advocating against the military option in the conflict couldn't achieve more important strategic developments in regards to the occupation. However, today many Arab and Palestinian observers believe that had the two intifadas continued for just three more years it would have created enough pressure to force the occupation army to leave the Palestinian territories.



Opening Article  

Intifada and Resistance versus Oslo and September 11

Research & Studies  
 400 Days and out: A strategy for resolving the Iraq Impasse Carl Conitta

The Consequences of US Occupation to Iraq on the Region

fuziyah saber

Reports and Articles  
Arabs to Take Initiative  for Change A. al-Bursan
Reform and Democracy Prospects in Jordan (2005-2010) MESC

The New Palestinian Political Map

ra'ed N'erat

Political Dynamics in Israel… economic, social and security dimensions

Israeli Studies unit

Egyptian Presidential Elections… a Step For Reform Studies & Research Unit
Israeli withdrawal from Gaza Khader Al-Mashayekh
The Reform Project of PLO in Light of Cairo Declaration MESC
Project on human rights, peace culture, and joint international values(Jordanian case) Studies & Research Unit

The Indications  of Putin's visit to the Middle East

Nurhan Al-Shaikh

Peace process in the Israeli press Husam Al-Hurani


Abdul-Hameed Al-Kayali

Research & Studies
400 Days and out: A strategy for resolving the Iraq Impasse

The key to enabling total US troop withdrawal from Iraq within 400 days is achieving a political accord with Sunni leaders at all levels and with Iraq's neighbors - especially Syria and Iran. The proximal aim would be to immediately lower the level of conflict inside Iraq by constricting both active and passive support for the insurgency, inside and outside the country. This would allow the United States to shift resources to the training mission and to adopt other de-escalatory measures - most importantly: a withdrawal time line. The strategic price of this diplomatic initiative would be a return to self-governance in Sunni areas, a guaranteed level of representation for these areas in the national assembly, an end to broad-brush measures of de-Baathification, an amnesty for most indigenous insurgents and for most former Baathists, and a de-escalation of the US confrontation with Syria and Iran regarding a range of issues.

In conjunction with these diplomatic initiatives, the United States would announce a tentative time line for withdrawal of its troops from Iraq -- associated with training milestones. Also: US forces would end major offensive sweeps inside the country, adopt a defensive posture, and shift the emphasis of their activity to training Iraqi security forces. Finally: the Iraqi government would re-activate portions of the old army -- partly as a confidence-building measure, but also in order to (i) rob insurgent organizations of their recruiting base, (ii) augment the power of the new Iraqi security forces, and (iii) produce a better ethnic balance in the new forces (which are currently dominated by Kurds and Shiites). As new forces increase in capacity, US forces would be removed, further reducing a stimulus of insurgent action.

Four hundred days - 57 weeks - is sufficient time to complete several Iraqi training cycles, including field exercises for many units at the battalion and brigade levels. Some division level training also can occur. Given sufficient resources (24,000 training personnel), 100,000 Iraqi security personnel can receive remedial training and another 80,000 new personnel can be trained and exercised during this period. Together with the full provision of all appropriate equipment, this development effort can yield Iraqi security forces that are several times more capable than those it controls in mid-2005.

After thirteen months, the only foreign military assets remaining in Iraq would be a small monitoring and training mission with a security detail: less than 10,000 foreign civilian and military personnel in all. US troops should constitute no more than one-third of the military component -- that is, approximately 2,000 troops. This mission should be conducted under a three-year UN mandate and joint NATO-international command. In addition, the United States might maintain a 25,000-person rapid reaction task force in the region, but outside either Iraq or Saudi Arabia.

Research & Studies
The Consequences of US Occupation to Iraq on the Region

          The US-British-led war on Iraq which resulted in the occupation of the country has created much dangerous consequences in the internal situation of Iraq, on the Arab world and region and is having serious political, strategic and security implications for the international community. In the Middle East the war and occupation has raised the issue of ethics and morality in international relations, and is establishing a new stage in the international system which the United States began to shape after the end of the cold war and the dismantlement of the old Soviet Union.

This research raises central questions regarding the reasons which made the daily and nightly raids on Iraq, and its occupation easy and of the inability of the Arab countries to create a viable regional security system that would check the power of states to go against international norms. But as opposed to this, America wanted to create its own security system in the Gulf by building up its forces there. This meant negating the notion of the regional system and acted against the national security, legal security and strategic needs of the regional states.

The paper states with the US arming itself with notions as the “new empire” and “the new American century”, it is eroding its credibility among the peoples of the Arab region which is sure to be against its global interests.

Reports and Articles
Arabs to Take Initiative  for Change

         Today there is a real crisis on the international, regional and local arenas manifested in deep political, economic and social roots. Internationally, the London bombings on 7 July and repeated again on the 20th of the same month, is creating much anguish despite the tight security by the British police and government. This is having ripple effects in Washington and the other Western capitals who are sounding the alarm bells about the continuation of “terrorism” which should be condemned by all.

            On the regional level, there were the Sharm Al Sheikh explosions on 23 July, and last October in Taba, as well as the other isolated explosions in Cairo. In Yemen recently there were mass demonstrations against rising fuel prices which forced the government to back down for a limited increase.  And in Iraq, the resistance to the U.S., is fuelling, while in Sudan the Darfur crisis is looming despite the formation of a unity government. 

            In Palestine there was the recent dismantlement of Israeli settlements in Gaza, while the impending confrontation between Fatah and Hamas was cut short in favor of political rapprochement to the dismay of the Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and the United States who were pushing the Palestinian Authority for a showdown with Hamas and Al Jihad Al Islami. Lebanon as well is grappling with its own domestic problems,  giving Israel an opportunity to flame another civil war in the country, and target Hizbollah as a symbol of Islamic resistance being the party that forced Israeli to withdraw from southern Lebanon. Besides, there is the issue of Syrian provocation, a country stripped of its strategic depth and was forced to withdraw from Lebanon.

            These regional political ramifications have international dimensions as recently stated by the Mayor of London Ken Livingstone who blamed the policies of the West since the last 80 years for the recent explosions in the British capital. A latest study published by the Royal Institute of International Affairs also, clearly states the participation of the Blair government in the occupation of Iraq and its alliance with George W. Bush is a core reason for what happened in London.

            Today there is increasing criticism of the US president because of what is regarded as his failed policies in Afghanistan and Iraq compounded by his absolute support for Sharon’s indiscriminate policies against the Palestinians which is continuing to put America in a bad light in the Arab world. 

            The failure of Arab governments in their democratic reform process has created much internal difficulties marring their political legitimacy and reflected in the bad economic situation of the man-in-the-street. For them Arab states appear as standing aside while there is unbearable silence among the Arab people that is deep-seated and looking for solutions.

            The United States and Britain are changing the map of the Arab region originally created in 1916 with the Sykes-Picot agreement. Today the agreement is being revamped and we are told the region is in need of new formulations based on different slogans of a bigger democratic Middle East with human rights. But American double standards in the Middle East in the last 50 years have created a “credibility gap” that was enforced by U.S., support for dictatorial regimes and Israel while ignoring the legitimate rights of the Palestinians.  On a larger scale, these developments are inducing much unpredictability and inability to forecast prudently, but nonetheless there will be change in the region, and a new map will appear in the next decade. The important question is:  Will the popular movements in the Arab World be a part of this map? Or will the western powers impose their will and design on any outcome? The truth is that the western project has failed yet again as we see the unfolding of the  American-British occupation of Iraq.

            A confidential report lately out in Britain revealed that London and Washington are considering withdrawal from Iraq is closer to the truth, because history has shown invading forces can not cope with human and economic losses for long. The Israeli withdrawal from Gaza, no matter what its reasons are, can only be interpreted as a victory to the Palestinian resistance movements.

            The next decade represents a new era, where people will lead change in view of the inability of many political systems to seize the initiative, carry out the needed reform and move away from London and Washington. No doubt the Iraqi and Palestinian battles will be decisive, because the people of the region can not stay under occupation, and will not bear lots of defeats. History taught us the challenge represented by external invasions and occupation under difficult economic, social and political circumstances pushes people towards change.

Reports and Articles
Reform and Democracy Prospects in Jordan (2005-2010)

The future of democracy, 2005-2010, was the title of a workshop organized by the Middle East Studies Center (MESC) in early September under the patronage of Prime Minister Adnan Badran and opened by Minister of Political Development Hisham Al Tal. The workshop was attended by politicians, party activists, researchers and journalists and talked about political reform, political development and democracy and future challenges in  the coming next five years.

It was stressed that political reform was essential to create an effective democratic society to respond to the economic needs of the people and set the country on the road to economic development. The workshop was attended by experts and practitioners from across the political spectrum and divide, those with different beliefs and ideas because it was felt that greater variety would be more useful to charting the course of democracy in the next five years.

Director of MESC Jawad Al Hamad says political reform, development and modernization in political, economic and social life is a dynamic and continuing process representing the youthful spirit of society that is able to live with its surrounding changes.

Reports and Articles

The New Palestinian Political Map

            Political changes on the ground are effecting changes in perceptions and offering new perspectives in the Palestinian arena. This research paper offers new insights and developments on the future Palestinian political map in the light of the Oslo agreements and the subsequent Intifada. It argues there is much room for structural political reform with wider political participation as a must in the Palestinian system of government and politics.

The paper says the system of government in the areas run by the Palestinian National Authority are in the process of witnessing change, and it is up to the decision-maker to realize the elements of this change in order to look for the future. What needs to be dwelled upon also, is the nature of the political environment. This would enable the creations of new political affinities, structural modes and the allowance of different political parties to enter and participate in the building of a new Palestinian polity.

These have to be understood within the social and political changes that are happening on the ground by way of the uprising in the West Bank and Gaza, and the new doctrines and thought processes related to the issue of political moderation which is gaining greater weight among major Palestinian factions like Fatah and especially Hamas; the paper argues that the leaders of Hamas have been gaining wider popular support since the start of the Intifada, and it is this that has led them to adopt a more pragmatic approach and capitalize on their strength.

These developments have been underpinned by the external changes, on the Arab, international and Israeli levels and are having a significant effect on internal Palestinian politics and maneuverings. It is argued that the US occupation of Iraqi has forced the Americans to deal with Islamists, especially in Palestine with a more even-handed approach.

The paper implies it is incumbent of those interested in drawing up a “futuristic” viable Palestinian political map to understand the present internal and external inputs of the Palestinian situation and realize that the Islamists, namely Hamas, must be brought in into the system of government.

Reports and Articles

Political Dynamics in Israel… economic, social and security dimensions

         A workshop at the Center for Middle East Studies was held last July to discuss the political impacts of the social, economic and security implications of the Israeli state and entity. The workshop presenting three specialized papers concentrated on the economy, the social and cultural aspects and the security issues and how these interact with the political determinant. For specialists and decision-makers in this part of the world it is crucial to understand how these actually influence each other.

On the economic front it is suggested that the state has taken a back seat to the detriment of the poor classes and increasing the gap between rich and poor since the early 1990s.  This also led to an increase in corruption. But despite the hardship Israelis did not react. The political docility had its economic reasons and discussed at length during the workshops. Some of the reasons lay with the fact that the issue of class consciousness did not materialize, as well as the existence of a siege and military mentality that lead to a feeling of hopelessness.  The Israeli Histadrut has failed to fight for the economic rights of the workers and the sprouting up of different societies to help the poor, a 1000 in the last decade, points to the severity of the situation.

The two other perspectives were also discussed at length. The social-cultural aspect discussed Israeli society in terms of a social formation of immigrants and therefore lacking an identity, and to deflect that, the state has built its existence around the so-called external threat. Experts in the workshop—academics from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, institutes in the West Bank and academics from Jordan—analyzed Israeli society in terms of its multifaceted aspects, discussing the different ideologies, cultures, religious fundamentalism and the sectarianism that make up that polity. Academics suggested that these have direct impacts on the state and have created contradictions in the thought processes especially in the political structure and identity especially between the left and right of the spectrum.

The workshop ends by suggesting that because of these elements, whose extent are recognized by successive Israeli governments, the state tries to forge international agreements and international backings and security alliances to deflect its domestic concerns.

Reports and Articles

Egyptian Presidential Elections… a Step For Reform

Is it democracy in the making? The last Egyptian presidential elections are the first of its kind to allow multi-party candidates to participate in the polls through the changing of Article 76 of the Egyptian Constitution. The report in Arabic provides insight on the presidential elections and the interest it generated by political parties, 10 in number, that put up candidates to compete with existing president Husni Mubarak, who won through a landslide majority.

Although two parties boycotted the elections, and the turn out maybe small, the presidential elections created much interest and reportage in the international media. The report is based on extensive references to serve as a meaningful document to the researcher, and provides pointers for the way forward in terms of future political developments inside the country. Further, it gives a detailed analysis through statistical results on a geographical basis of the voting process in the country.

Reports and Articles

Israeli withdrawal from Gaza

The recent Israeli withdrawal from Gaza is seen as going against the very nature of the Zionist ideology which has been viewed up till now as an expansionist ideology of filling the West Bank and Gaza with settler-colonies, a move that begin after 1967.  The recent withdrawal is being seen also as unprecedented and a success for the Palestinian resistance movement.

The article goes to great lengths at reporting and analyzing the atmosphere that Israel tried to create and project surrounding this withdrawal. Through the invitation of 900 reporters who were invited to cover this event, the Ariel Sharon government tried to make “media capital” out of their withdrawal by portraying themselves as peace-loving and telling their own people to move out of their homes for the sake of peace. The fact that these Israelis had been living in colonial-settlements created on occupied Palestinian were conveniently left out.

Nevertheless, it is argued that many had believed, including ordinary Israeli and Jewish experts, the withdrawal signified a success for the Palestinians, whose resistance had been the motive for Israel to withdraw.  It is pointed out that after 1987, when the first Intifada started, the Israeli occupation of Gaza and the West Bank had become very costly in terms of economics and Israeli lives.

Politically, many are having different views on the withdrawal. While the Americans and Europeans are praising the move, Israeli commentators having been fearful of what they call as “unilateral” withdrawal from one side, namely the Israeli. The Palestinians argue the withdrawal have to be within a comprehensive framework leading to a Palestinian state. However, the fear now that such a removal of settler-colonies will merely result in the transfer of settlers to those in the West Bank, a view expressed by the Islamic Congress Organization which will merely perpetuate the occupation.

Reports and Articles

The Reform Project of PLO in Light of Cairo Declaration

Three workshops on structural political reform of the Palestine Liberation Organization in the light of the Cairo Declaration were held at the Middle East Studies Center in Amman. Experts and academics discussed important issues related to the centrality of the PLO in Palestinian politics, stressing the organization must take a qualitative leap forward and within a new framework that encapsulates different Palestinian factions on the basis of liberation and return.

The paper stresses that new and positive thinking that reflects the current status of the Palestinian people has to replace the old mentalities of defeat which only serve as an obstacle to building a comprehensive Palestinian framework of action. The paper goes on to discuss the building of a movement based on reconciliation between the secularists and the Islamists and between the Palestinian National Authority and Hamas in the light of the achievements of the Intifada and the resistance.

Reports and Articles

Project on human rights, peace culture, and joint international values (Jordanian case)

          This project, supported by UNESCO, and now in the hands of the Ministry of Education in Jordan is about re-introducing new definitions of peace and human rights through school textbooks and curricula to help pupils build a wholesome view of values and understandings during the different stages of their school-year learning.

The definitions are based on international agreements and conventions related to human rights and the rights of women and the child, and in addition to educational books and the experiences of international and local NGOs.

The project is still in the blue-print stage but the Ministry of Education says Jordan will start implementing the new initiative in the next scholastic year which involves a comprehensive plan to reform the school curriculum.

The project is about the introduction of new concepts of human rights, peace culture and the establishment of a dialogue of cultures in the educational process. These would be within the context of the Arab-Islamic traditions.

These concepts are also objectives for the aim is also to create among pupils and students, a culture based on human rights and peace and a dialogue between peoples through the provision of a revamped knowledge system in their educational curricula. 

Reports and Articles

The Indications  of Putin's visit to the Middle East

       This is an analysis of Vladimir Putin’s visit to the Middle East which took place last April. The Russian president’s visit is a historic one, the first ever to Palestine and Israel and the first to Egypt in more than 40 years. Analysts have said the visit represents a new development in Russia’s foreign policy towards the region.

The paper states that having put the Russian house in order, Putin now wants to adopt a more vigorous foreign policy approach to the Middle East. And hence his visit to the Arab League in Cairo has been interpreted by analysts as a master-stroke signaling to all Arab countries that Russia wants to open up a new chapter of relations with the countries of the region and play a new more positive and constructive role.

Having left the area for so long, the Russian president wants to try and build commercial relations with every member of the Arab League while recognizing the traditional role of the U.S., in the region. While, and though Putin believes America has entrenched its position through bilateral relations with countries in the Middle East, and especially on the peace process front, nevertheless, he believes Russia can play a more balancing act especially in its support of the different Arab issues faced in such states like Iraq and Palestine.

His visit to the autonomous areas run by the Palestinian National Authority was designed as a show of support to the government in its negotiations in the peace process and to consolidate existing relations. Likewise his visit to Israel was aimed to register to the government there that Russia wants a peaceful solution in the area, and is prepared to play a more active role to achieve a more stable region.

These points are the jest of the Arabic article, although the analysis also tackles Russia’s traditional support for Syria and its role in Iran, especially as a military supplier, and as a consequence, the tense relations this created with Israel. In this respect also regional power, power politics, balance of power as well as the sense of realism is tackled especially between Russia and Israel.

Reports and Articles

Peace process in the Israeli press
(Apr. 2004) – (Apr. 2005)   

       The peace process in the Israeli press was given a wide coverage. The period under study was the second six months of 2004 till the first half of the year of 2005. The issues include Israel’s dismantlement of colonies in Gaza, opinions of settlers, and the view of the Israeli government.

         The building of the “separation wall” was also tackled as well the international reaction to it, and the Israeli press was particularly interested in the ceasefire with the Palestinians, the post-Arafat situation as well as the Palestinian elections and the participation of Hamas in the local and legislature polls and its effects on the peace process. The Syrian file and the Syrian withdrawal from Lebanon was also given much attention.

The views of Israeli writers are much aired in this section to show how Israelis are looking at events in the light of the continuing Intifada, or in the withdrawal from Gaza.