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Ibrahim Abu Lughod Institute is hosting a group of international researchers - News

August 9, 2011
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Ibrahim Abu-Lughod Institute of International Studies (IALIIS), as part of the activities of the 2nd week, 11-15 June 2011, of its summer course, hosted two guest speakers addressing issues concerning Palestinian refugees, and the opportunities that might emerge for the benefits of Palestinians due to the Arab revolutions.  

Dr. Rashid Khalidi was hosted in three lectures, one lecture was part of Peace Studies and Conflict Resolutions course, the second was part of Psychological, Social and Existential Dimensions of Refugee Life course. In addition, (IALIIS) organized a roundtable discussion headed by Dr. Khalidi addressing the Arab revolutions and its impact on the Palestinian cause.  

Dr. Khalidi discussed the current Arab revolutions, which represent a new era of the Arab political life, and constituted new possibilities Arabs have not witnessed for a very long time. Led to the overthrown of the dictatorial regimes in Arab countries.  

However, and as Dr. Khalidi emphasized, the most difficult phase is yet to come, with demands of freedom, dignity, social justice, economical prosperity, rule of law, accountability and democracy.  

What happened so far in Tunisia and Egypt should bring new possibilities for the entire Arab countries, this is what Dr. Khalidi believes in, however, he points out that it is impossible to arbitrarily apply what happened in Egypt and Tunisia in other Arab states, as each country has its own nature that should be considered. For example, there are civil society organizations in Egypt in addition to long legacy of the independent judicial system. While in Tunisia, there are very strong unions, which are not available for many other Arab states.  

Dr. Khalidi said that the interest of the Arab leaders led them to brutally react towards such revolutions as those leaders are so keen to maintain the status quo, to amass more wealth and gain more interests. In order to overturn such revolutions, the dictatorial regimes accentuate the Sunni and Shiie’ divisions, bringing up the Iranian interest in the region and therefore its threat to widespread the Shiie’.

Talking about opportunities that such revolutions might bring to Palestinians; Dr. Khalidi pointed out that there are some positive signals such revolutions brought, the most prominent is the change in the Egyptian foreign policy, especially towards Iran, as the latter is no more seen or perceived as an enemy. Some changes already happened towards  the Palestinian cause, through supporting the reconciliation and its serious effort to reconcile the Palestinian division.

Moreover, Dr. Khalidi said that the Egyptian revolution opened up new independent political horizons for Arabs. The new improvement in the Arab revolutions is the public movement that was absent for long time, which also paved the way for youth to play greater roles in forming their democratic systems and the overall regimes of their countries.            

In the roundtable discussion; Dr. Khalidi, talked about the possibility of utilizing the Arab revolutions, especially the Egyptian one, to break the deadlock in the Palestinian cause. The new regime in Egypt is important for that cause, since the Egyptian regime is the guarantee for the continuation of the Israeli hegemony in the region. This comes through the role Egypt plays in guarding the Israeli borders. He also referred the failure of the Palestinians reconciliation to the x-Egyptian government, since one of its main  goals was to maintain two divided authorities in the West bank and Gaza Strip.  

Dr. Khalidi talked about the refugees issue as a negotiation topic within a rational political solution. In his view, the appeal for the right of return that happens now, is a legal appeal for the resolution number 194, and not an appeal for the natural and moral right. Therefore, in case of applying this resolution, refugees should return to live peacefully with their Israeli neighbors, and to abide by Israeli law and sovereignty.          

He also mentioned that the Palestinian negotiators should be clear in terms of the concept of return. Does it mean to return to the forthcoming Palestinian state within 1967 borders, or return to their villages and cities of origin, the majority of which had been completely destroyed? Dr. Khalidi mentioned that the Israeli community is becoming more and more extremist, which affects the right of return. In the same vein, Dr. Khalidi believes that the Palestinian negotiator so far made enormous mistakes in negotiation, and it is time to reconsider such mistakes for better achievements. Particularly the Palestinian concessions that exceed the Israeli ones. Finally, Dr. Kahlidi strongly recommended that Palestinian negotiation delegation should be equipped with experts in international law.          

Dr. Abbas Shiblak, discussed with the students of the same course “Psychological, social and existential dimensions of refugee life”, the topic of statelessness of Palestinians. As a matter of fact, as he said, the Palestinians considered the largest stateless people in the world. Mentioning the impact of statelessness on their life, since nationality is the key to life inside or outside one’s country, which allows “citizens” to enjoy the  services countries deliver.      

While Arab countries impose restrictions and complicated regulations in terms of nationality. He explained three ways of getting nationality, through the father, being born in the territory, or through nationalizing. While there are two kinds of statelessness, de jure and de facto.       

Finally, Dr. Shiblak presented the phases of development of the Palestinian nationality due to the successive governing regimes, starting from the Ottoman era 1860, ending up with the Palestinian Authority. He pointed out that some countries use the issue of nationality as a political tool by granting it for some refugees under the condition of depositing huge amount of money in the banks of the hosting country for long periods of time without withdrawing it.     




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