On Saturday 27th January, Nadia Hijab, Executive Director of Al-Shabaka: The Palestinian Policy Network, joined PSC members at the Annual General Meeting. Below is the transcript of her talk.
It’s an honor to be speaking to the group that’s made it on to Israel’s top 20!
In my talk today I want to focus on three things:
1) How to get our framing right in terms of what we’re fighting against;
2) How to put forward a compelling vision of what we’re fighting for; and
3) How to stay strategic in growing all our sources of power so we can achieve our goals.
This may all sound pretty basic but there’s a lot of confusion both among Palestinians and among Palestine solidarity activists. And the reason for confusion is that we don’t have a fully representative leadership that is providing clear direction – and that’s putting it mildly.
So first, the question of what we’re fighting against. There’s a lot of debate, particularly in academic circles about the framework of analysis we should apply to the Palestinians. Is it settler colonialism? Or ethnic cleansing? Or racial discrimination? Or apartheid? In fact you could make a case for any one of those and more.
But what we need is a common framing to make it crystal clear not only what we are fighting against – but also what we are fighting for. And we need that framing so we can be clear about the strategies we need to succeed. My Al-Shabaka colleague Ingrid Jaradat and I reviewed all these frameworks in a recent policy paper. We identified apartheid as the most strategic framework – in other words, as the one most useful in our struggle.
For example, although the settler colonial framework is strategic in many ways it was not expressly prohibited by international law at the time Israel was established. That means it would only be applicable to Israel’s settler colonial enterprise in the OPT. Thus, it could not be used to address the rights of the refugees or equality for Palestinian citizens of Israel. In addition, although it was prohibited, it was not criminalized.
By contrast, apartheid has been treated as a serious violation under customary law at least since the end of the Second World War. It was prohibited and criminalized in the Anti-Apartheid Convention of 1973 and was incorporated into the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (2002) as one of the most serious crime against humanity after genocide.
In the case of Palestine, apartheid began when the Zionist settler colonial society transformed into the state of Israel. That’s when the ideology of Jewish superiority and policy of ethnic cleansing were incorporated into the laws and institutions of the state. So Israel bears legal responsibility for acts of apartheid against all Palestinians, including the refugees, the citizens of Israel, and those under occupation.
It should be noted that individual criminal responsibility also applies to those who carry out, aid, or abet the crime of apartheid. All states and the UN are responsible for ensuring that those who are guilty are brought to justice. And they have a legal obligation to cooperate and adopt measures, including sanctions, to bring apartheid to an end and ensure reparations. There is much more on this in the UN report by Richard Falk and Virginia Tilley that was withdrawn under pressure. There’s also more discussion in our Al-Shabaka paper.
Based on the above, if we can establish the apartheid framing as our common framing that would be a major source of power for our movement.
Now if that’s what we are fighting against, what are we fighting for? This is where the discussion often slips into an argument of 1-state vs 2-states. But let’s think about that for a moment. In terms of achieving Palestinian rights, what would a 1-state political outcome achieve that 2-states would not?
The vision of a secular democratic state in all of Palestine as set out by the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) in 1968, has always been more compelling for Palestinians than that of two states. Through a single state Palestinians would exercise their right to self-determination by returning to and living in the entirety of the land that had been Palestine, alongside the Jews living there, with equal rights for all.
As for the vision of 2 states, it’s important to distinguish between the one set out in 1988, when the Palestinian National Council adopted it, and the disaster that was the Oslo accords. When it was adopted in 1988, the 2-state solution was seen as a pragmatic, doable recognition of reality. Palestinians would exercise the right to self-determination through a sovereign state that would secure the equal rights of its citizens.
Such a state would enable Palestine to join the community of nations. Further, the 1988 PNC resolution upheld the UN resolutions regarding the rights of the Palestinian refugees. And the struggle for two states does not mean foresaking the vital struggle for equality of the Palestinian citizens of Israel.
Oslo doomed a rights-based state project from the start. The Palestinian leadership was willing to sacrifice refugee rights. As for the Israelis, even the so-called great peace-maker Yitzhak Rabin made it clear that Palestinians would have an entity that was “less than a state” with Israel’s security border located in the Jordan Valley.
Yet, had we built up enough power to ensure that the 2-state solution stayed faithful to its original framing, then it could have fulfilled Palestinian rights to self-determination and return, just as the 1-state would have done. In fact an end to apartheid does not necessarily mean a “one-state solution” in the entire territory that is controlled by an apartheid system. It can be a two-state solution. In Namibia, the people achieved self-determination through independence with their struggle against the South African apartheid regime.
I would argue that either state outcome could be made to achieve Palestinian rights – ifwe have the power to do so. Plus – and this is very important – fulfilling Palestinian rights needs some of the sources of power that are associated with the state system.
For example, the fact that Israeli sovereignty is not recognized in either occupied East Jerusalem – or indeed in West Jerusalem – under international law is a source of power we should not give up easily. The fact that the settlements are considered illegal under the law and by the vast majority of states is a source of power we should not give up until we achieve our goals.
Imagine the different situation today if the PLO had – back in 2004 – “activated” the International Court of Justice ruling on Israel’s illegal wall. Although it was an advisory opinion, it made a clear call on all states not to “recognize the illegal situation resulting from the construction of the wall” and not to provide any aid that could maintain that situation. The PLO could have used this to ensure that rules-conscious European countries acted much more decisively to make sure that their relations with Israel did not support the illegal Israeli settlements. The PLO did not do so.
These and others are important sources of power if we use them – if we really push for them through our movement and if we push the Palestinian leadership to push for them.
The reality is that today the Palestinian people have very little power to achieve either 1 state or 2 in the foreseeable future or to impose Palestinians right on Israel or on the international community. No one is going to give us anything so why let go of any of our sources of power? If we are determined to end apartheid we must not let go of any of our sources of power.
One can work for 1-state or 2-state outcomes so long as each fulfills Palestinian rights. This was the smart, strategic approach by the founders of the BDS movement. Given the disarray of the national movement and the lack of consensus around political goals, they focused instead on rights. The BDS call is for the realization of self-determination through freedom from occupation, equality for the Palestinian citizens of Israel, and justice for the Palestinian refugees in fulfilling their right of return. Freedom, justice and equality. This is how they reached the broadest spectrum of Palestinian society & international solidarity activists – and built a considerable source of power. And these rights can be achieved in 1 state or 2.
Now there is one source of power we have not yet tapped: That of the narrative. Israel continues to dominate the narrative in the West despite the inroads we have made. And we must tap this source of power soon – we are facing a time of great danger and of fiercer attacks both within Palestine and against all efforts at real solidarity.
We badly need a positive, forward-looking narrative of what we are for, a narrative that unifies us and communicates the power of our vision. A narrative that provides a direction for the movement until the time comes for a political outcome. A narrative that overcomes the barriers that Israel’s physical fragmentation of the Palestinian people has created. A narrative that challenges Israel and prevents it from being able to paint us as anti-everything.
That unifying Palestinian narrative already exists: It’s Freedom. It’s Justice. It’s Equality. These are the goals identified by the BDS movement. They are also goals all human beings can aspire to and they speak to the reality of each segment of the Palestinian people, under occupation, in Israel and in refugee camps and exile.
We have that narrative, but we don’t use it. We say that we are anti-apartheid and that we support BDS against Israel. What we must make very clear is that we support BDS because we want to achieve freedom, justice, and equality. We are against apartheid because we want to achieve freedom, justice, and equality.
These goals need to be placed front and center of our movement as soon as possible: They are an uplifting and positive vision that can quickly occupy the high ground. And they can be achieved in 1-state or 2.
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Qatari Labor Minister Leads Fruitful Labor Conference With Key Recommendations
The 111th session of the International Labor Conference successfully concluded under the leadership of Ali bin Sameegh Al-Marri, the Minister of Labor from Qatar. The conference received international praise from representatives of governments, employers, and workers within the International Labor Organization for its achievements in promoting social justice and creating decent job opportunities.
Ali Al-Marri was unanimously elected as the President of the International Labor Conference during its 111th session. This marks the first time an Arab minister has held this prestigious position since the organization’s establishment in 1919. Qatar’s election as the conference’s chair recognizes the country’s significant contributions to labor and development, leading to a safe and healthy work environment.
During his closing speech at the conference, Chairman Ali Al-Marri emphasized that Qatar’s presidency reaffirmed its commitment to supporting collaborative efforts and multilateral cooperation in achieving sustainable development goals. He expressed gratitude to the member states for entrusting Qatar with the conference’s leadership.
Al-Marri highlighted the conference as a crucial platform for governments and social partners to engage in dialogue and joint action concerning contemporary labor issues. Despite facing some challenges, the 111th session successfully fulfilled its ambitious agenda thanks to the collective efforts of all participants.
The conference and its committees produced important outcomes that will contribute to the organization’s efforts, as well as member states, in improving the world of work. The Committee on Apprenticeships, in particular, showcased the power of social dialogue and achieved significant results through vibrant negotiations, cooperation, and the exchange of experiences.
— وكالة الأنباء القطرية (@QatarNewsAgency) June 16, 2023
Recognizing the importance of quality apprenticeships in addressing the evolving world of work, Al-Marri stressed their role in promoting social justice, decent living conditions, and poverty eradication. The conference’s discussions emphasized the significance of protecting workers and their essential contribution to gender equality, social justice, and the reduction of inequalities. Furthermore, such protection leads to sustainable enterprises, productivity gains, and economic development.
Al-Marri commended the International Labor Organization’s guidelines for a just transition toward environmentally sustainable economies and societies for all, considering them as a fundamental reference for policy-making and actionable steps.
The conference’s approval of the organization’s program and budget for the 2024/2025 period was met with praise. Al-Marri lauded the spirit of cooperation and flexibility that facilitated a consensual solution, demonstrating the ILO’s commitment to constructive dialogue.
Al-Marri also commended the World of Work Summit, themed “Social Justice for All,” which took place alongside the conference. The summit saw the participation of 16 heads of state, government officials, ministers, representatives from international organizations, and social partners from various regions. It discussed various issues related to social justice, including the proposal to form a global coalition for social justice by the organization’s Director-General.
During the closing session, representatives acknowledged the challenges posed by recent global crises and emphasized the significance of the equal apprenticeship recommendation in advancing the just transition of economies.
The conference’s final session featured speeches from Gilbert Hongbo, the Director-General of the International Labor Organization, Henrik Montai, Vice-President of the Conference representing the Employers’ Team, Mohamed Zuhour, Vice-President of the Conference representing the Workers’ Team, and Corina Ajdar, Vice-President of the Conference representing the governments. They expressed their gratitude and appreciation to Minister of Labor Ali bin Smaikh Al-Marri for his effective leadership and successful attainment of the conference’s objectives.
Strategic Twinning of Rabat And Madrid: A Defense Against Mediterranean Tension
Rabat – The writer-journalist, Abdelhamid Jmahri believes that the wish today of Morocco and Spain, after the clarification of the foundations of their cooperation, is to establish a geostrategic twinning that goes beyond the limits of close cooperation and privileged partnership, thus blocking the way to maneuvers aimed at exacerbating tensions in the Mediterranean region.
Al Itihad Al Ichtiraki”
In an editorial to appear in the Saturday edition of the Arabic-language daily “Al Itihad Al Ichtiraki”, he notes that this ambition is clearly displayed through the will of HM King Mohammed VI in His call to inaugurate “a new unprecedented stage ” and also that of King Felipe VI of Spain calling for weaving partnership relations for the 21st century.
He maintains that the High Level Meeting (RHN) held last Thursday in Rabat is the bearer of strategic partnerships specific to countries concerned with a perfect understanding of their common interests and also sharing the same conception of the interactions of international action, at the present time. as in the future.
While emphasizing that the two Kingdoms have set a living example on the priority nature of the conciliatory diplomatic approach and its supremacy in the settlement of disputes, he observes that the agreements signed during this High Level Meeting relate to key sectors targeted , in support of a common understanding of priorities.
This article is originally published on msn.com
Spain-Morocco Reconnection: Post-Crisis Efforts
After a deep diplomatic crisis, Spain and Morocco cemented their reconciliation on Thursday in Rabat, despite criticism in Madrid over too many concessions from Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez.
Mr. Sanchez, accompanied by a dozen ministers, co-chaired a “high-level meeting” (RHN) with his counterpart Aziz Akhannouch, the first since 2015.
“Today we are consolidating the new stage in relations between Morocco and Spain that we have opened,” he said, praising “the enormous unexplored potential of this relationship”.
Before his arrival in Rabat on Wednesday, the Socialist Prime Minister spoke by telephone with King Mohammad VI who invited him to return “very soon” to Morocco for an official visit “in order to reinforce this positive dynamic”, according to the royal cabinet.
Mr. Sanchez ended last March a year of diplomatic estrangement with Morocco by agreeing to support Moroccan positions on Western Sahara.
The crisis erupted in April 2021 after the hospitalization in Spain – under a false identity according to Rabat – of the leader of the Sahrawi separatists of the Polisario Front, Brahim Ghali, sworn enemy of Morocco.
The Rabat-Madrid honeymoon comes as France – another historical partner of Rabat – is pilloried by Moroccan politicians and media who accuse it of having “orchestrated” a European Parliament resolution worrying about freedom of the press in Morocco and allegations of corruption of MEPs in Brussels.
But this idyll is not to everyone’s taste in Spain. The radical left formation Podemos, member of the government coalition, did not wish to be on the trip to Rabat, citing its opposition to Mr. Sanchez’s “unilateral” turn on Western Sahara. A turnaround applauded in Rabat.
The fact that Mr. Sanchez was not received by Mohammad VI is seen as a snub in Spain by the right-wing opposition and the press. The Popular Party, the main opposition force, deplored Thursday, through the voice of its general coordinator Elias Bendodo, that “Spain has given an image of weakness”.
“The absence of Mohammad VI spoils the summit”, wrote the daily El Païs (center left) while the newspaper El Mundo (conservative) headlined: “Mohammad VI shows his position of strength with regard to Spain by posing a rabbit to Sanchez”.
New Economic Partnership
Pedro Sanchez said he hoped for the development of “new investment projects accompanying the extraordinary process of development and modernization of Morocco”. “Morocco and Spain wish to establish a new economic partnership at the service of development”, underlined for his part Mr. Akhannouch.
Twenty agreements were signed on Thursday to facilitate Spanish investment in Morocco – Spain is the third largest foreign investor there – in the fields of renewable energies, water desalination, rail transport, tourism , education and culture. To this end, a new financial protocol has been approved which will double – to 800 million euros – aid from the Spanish government for investment projects in Morocco.
Also in the pipeline is an agreement to “completely normalize the passage of people and goods” through sea and land borders. The opening of land crossings concern the Spanish enclaves of Melilla and Ceuta, in northern Morocco.
Without forgetting the files of illegal immigration and the fight against terrorism. Madrid highlighted the drop of more than 25% in illegal immigration in 2022 thanks to its police cooperation with Rabat, with 31,219 migrants entering Spain illegally in 2022.
This cooperation, welcomed by Rabat, was however tarnished by the death of at least 23 Sudanese migrants who had tried last June to enter the enclave of Melilla via the Moroccan border town of Nador.
The Minister of the Interior, Fernando Grande-Marlaska, was also to plead with his Moroccan counterpart, Abdelouafi Laftit, to reactivate the channels for the expulsion of irregular migrants and return to levels prior to the Covid-19 pandemic. , according to a source from the Spanish ministry.
Finally, Rabat is considered a key partner in the fight against terrorism. An important subject for Madrid after an attack at the end of January attributed to a young Moroccan in an irregular situation against two churches in Algeciras (South) in which a sexton was killed.
This article is originally published on lorientlejour.com
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