First Annual International Conference "Palestine Where To?" Activities Continue at Ramallah Campus

Sunday, June 24, 2018

For the second day in a row

The first annual international conference entitled “In light of local, regional and international changes... Palestine where to?” activities continue in its second consecutive day. It is organized by the Policy and Conflict Resolution Studies Center at the Arab American University Ramallah campus. The activities included three sessions in which 12 local and international political and academic speakers participated.

Part of the second day activities

The University Speech

The President of the Arab American University Prof. Dr. Ali Zidan Abu Zuhri, started the event by thanking all those who contributed in this conference success, on top of them the Head of the University Directors Board Dr. Yousef Asfour for his encouragement and support, the Chairman of the Conference Preparatory Committee and its members for their efforts, and the speakers for their contribution to enriching the debate.

“The evolving of global awareness in the 21st century led to the bias to human rights principle, the rule of international law, rejecting submissiveness to power and imposition of domination and colonialism. We hope the world; public opinion, governments, parliaments, and organizations will fulfill their responsibilities and respond to their political, moral and humanitarian commitments to the Palestinian cause. Which become impossible to resolve over time because of the international community failed in completing those responsibilities, especially accountability of the occupation authority for international law violations and end the occupation, which lasted way too long,” he said.

He added “Israel is trying to control Jerusalem city by changing its features, Judaizing it, enforcing racist laws and promoting it as the Jewish people’s united capital, in parallel with its attempts to abolish the Palestinian people, forcibly evict them and create a nation of Palestinian refugees everywhere, starting with the 1948 Nakba and till today.” Stressing, since the first Nakba of the Palestinian people international resolutions was issued by the UN resolution one after the other in favor of the Palestinian cause, but they remained locked away and the universal human conscience who watched over these years’ historical injustice on our people witnessing the excessive force and imposition of the international law system and our people rights.

Dr. Abu Zuhri pointed; the US administration is sticking to the program of the extreme right in Israel, which calls for destructing the two-state solution and imposition settlements. As Palestinians, we consider the recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital null and void because it violates international legitimacy and international law. He continued “We realize this is only the beginning of a new American phase to impose solutions and dictates on Palestinians and Arabs. The United States believes that anyone seeks peace must accept what they suggest and whoever opposes it will be treated a terrorism and extremism forces that must be fought.”

He pointed, the Palestinian people know how to fail these projects, which he has experienced with skill and ability over the past decades. Today, they continue their legal fight against the occupation in every way, proceeding their legendary steadfastness on his land and his peaceful public movement to get his freedom and guaranteed rights by international covenants and laws.

“After reviewing the recent events, it is clear there are many local, regional and international changes going in the region, which will inevitably lead key political changes on the Palestinian issue. Therefore, the Arab American University and Policy and Conflict Resolution Studies Center held this important conference,” he concluded.


First session

Under the title “International Law and UN Diplomacy” and moderated by the Arab American University VP for International Affairs Dr. Dalal Erekat, where the Permanent Observer of Palestine to the United Nations Dr. Riyad Mansour presented his paper “Palestinian diplomacy in the International Arena.” He said, “the Israeli and American Administration extremism is reflected through aggressive policies towards the State of Palestine, its people, and the region who is in a state of turmoil.”

Mansour pointed “Joining the International Criminal Court gave us the legal capability to prosecute those convicted of committing crimes against the Palestinian people, especially war crimes; continuation of settlement.” Noting that “Palestine can now pursue these bodies through the Criminal Court legal system. So we have defined a strategy through the work of the committee, which the Human Rights Council will soon form in order to confront the attack on our national project, our Palestinian people, and leadership, represented by the PLO, and investigate Israel committed crimes against peaceful civilian demonstrators in Gaza Strip since 30 March 2018.”

“This committee should investigate the killing and wounding of dozens of Palestinian civilians, mostly children, and that efforts are being made to form a committee to report its work,” Mansour said. Pointing, “This effort is not easy with the US and Israel powerful counter campaign.”

Mansour talked about the Security Council and the UN General Assembly work, saying “We have opposed the current US administration unilateral and provocative actions, which defied the law and international resolutions relating to Jerusalem city.” Adding, “We managed to unify 14 of the Security Council members as a majority to defend the Security Council and international law resolutions and confront those policies especially Trump’s declaring Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and transferring the US embassy to it.”

He said, “After this, we went to the General Assembly and gained 128 votes in our favor while 9 where against us. After the massacre in Gaza, we headed back to the Security Council asking them to fulfill their responsibilities and make the call to protect Palestinian civilians living under Israeli occupation.”

“International humanitarian law, specifically the Fourth Geneva Convention, defines the occupying authority responsibility and the rights of citizens living under occupation regarding protection, as it stated that the occupying authority is responsible for protecting civilians living under it in all circumstances. Moreover, when it starts killing and committing massacres against those whom they supposed to be protecting, then they are evading their responsibilities; therefore the responsibility is transferred to the international community to provide such protection,” he added.

He added, “Under this legal understanding, we headed to the Security Council to seek protection for our people to got 10 votes in favor of the draft resolution we submitted, but it failed because of the United States’ veto. So we submitted it to the UN General Assembly.”

So the PLO legal adviser to the project to support the Palestinian negotiations Tamara Sayad presented her paper “Reducing Israeli practices against the Palestinians” in which she spoke about the differences between the International Court of Justice and the International Criminal Court. The first investigates crimes committed by individuals, while the latter specializes in States’ responsibilities on specific issues.

She indicated the other differences between the ICC and the International Court of Justice were that Israel and the US could not reject the International Court of Justice legitimacy unlike their challenging to the legitimacy of the International Criminal Court by not signing the Rome Treaty, also, the possibility of the US rejecting the International Court of Justice legitimacy would put it in an embarrassing situation.

Regarding the international protection issue, Sayad explained that this issue has five dimensions; deployment of international protection forces, deployment of a monitoring force, direct government interference, economic and political sanctions, and surveillance through international organizations.

The Assistant of the Minister of Foreign and Multilateral Relations Ammar Hijazi in his paper “Palestinian Question in the UN” addressed the importance of the treaties and agreements signed by the State of Palestine, reviewed the Palestinian diplomacy efforts and the obstacles it faced in reaching to this stage.

Hijazi explained that these treaties are relevant because they include binding orders that require the countries of the world to implement them and hold accountable those who violate these laws. Stressing, Palestine has become a force in law-making after joining these treaties.

Chairman of the International Relations Committee in the joint list the member of Keenest Dr. Yousef Jabareen presented a paper entitled “Internationalization the Palestinian Question: Prospects and Challenges”, in which he talked about the tension between the standards of international law and international system and the political forces balance in reality. “There are many of the international law decisions spoke about our people rights, such as recognition the Palestinian refugees’ right to return to their homes, but in fact, we see denial for such decisions,” he said.

He referred to the international laws that announce Jerusalem as international area, which determines its position in final solution negotiations, “But in reality, Israel and America have surpassed them by annexing Jerusalem and declaring it Israel’s capital.” Stressing the need to expose this racism and support Palestinian diplomacy by supporting its movements on the ground and bring the Palestinian issue back to the fore.


The second session

It was entitled “Social Media and Conflict Resolution” and moderated by Dr. Iyad Yaqoub from the Arab American University, where the public diplomacy professor at the University of Kyoto, Japan, Dr. Nancy Snow talked about “Social Media: Facebook Diplomacy, Twitter: A New Transformation,” she mentioned that she’s from the US and lives in the Japanese capital Tokyo and she did not hear about the Palestinian issue until she visited Palestine and mingled with its people. Pointing, the reason behind this is that Palestinian media does not use social media which become the new and stronger media against the traditional one whom not interested in the full story. Also, she gave tips for social media and new media users on the need to use them to address the world, deliver their message and attract the audience.

Media lecturer at Birzeit University and Director of the Researches and Media Policies Unit at the Media Development Center Mr. Saleh Masharqa presented his paper “Digital Diplomacy and its Place in Palestinians Foreign Affairs.” In which he emphasized the importance of the digital diplomacy in conveying the Palestinian cause to the world, enhancing foreign relations, and clarifying the situation to face the obstacles. He pointed, the Media Development Center has researched on this subject, to show that new media has revolutionized and made everyone move from traditional diplomacy to digital. Mentioning digital diplomacy experiences such as France who made a positive impact addressing the world in eight languages, while Israeli Foreign Ministry uses five, referring to models of Israeli propaganda that uses lies in digital diplomacy, he also made remarks about the Palestinian Foreign Ministry digital diplomacy who only uses two languages, most of its texts are news pieces, not articles, and their English page does not contain all the information the Arabic one has.

The representative of the International Solidarity Movement with the Palestinian people Lili Yousef presented a paper entitled “Social Media” in which she referred to the mechanism of conveying the movement message through the social media. She called the Palestinians to tell their story through these modern means to reach more significant numbers in the world and not to wait for the traditional media to convey their message.

As for the Dean of the Media Faculty at Al-Quds University Dr. Nadir Salha, he presented a paper titled “Digital Democracy: The Art of Image Industry,” pointing to the way it handles information based on the image, indicating that processing visual information is faster than processing information through text.

He stressed the importance of multimedia and its impact on emotions and ideas through the present method. He pointed to the importance of employing images in digital diplomacy. Also, referred to some journalistic photographs models that remained in the memory of those who witnessed them, such as the arrest of a child from Hebron by a large group of the occupation army, this one made a big fuss in the world. Explaining, four factors can ensure delivering the message successfully through the image; simplicity, correctness, effectiveness associated with speed, visual attraction, and made some observations about the Palestinian Ministry of Foreign Affairs website to deliver its messages.


The third session

It was entitled “Negotiations and Available Alternatives” moderated by Dr. Nidal Jayousi of the Arab American University, in which the Secretary of PLO Executive Committee Dr. Saeb Erekat reviewed the “Negotiations Versus” saying: “We offered the US administration all opportunities for to make peace, yet it chose to stand with the occupation and be biased to their point of view,” adding there is currently no Israeli partner for peace and Netanyahu does not believe in a two-state solution.

“A country that ignores facts won’t make the right. The Israeli government is making its effort to keep Gaza separated from the West Bank. Palestinian-Israeli negotiations stopped in 2014 when we signed a reconciliation agreement; they want to kill the Palestinian national project by keeping the division under every by all means,” he continued.

We, Palestinians, have no partners in the US. We met the Trump administration and offered them every opportunity to maintain the two-state solution to achieve an agreement under international law to establish a Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital alongside Israel, yet they refused, he said.

Erekat explained that the US administration had used everything in its arsenal by cutting off aids from our people, reducing UNRWA aids, closing the PLO office in Washington, and now what Mr. Kushner is doing is the deal of the century’s second step. They believe Jerusalem is not negotiable and it’s time to end the Palestinian cause, telling the host countries they will pay them what they paid UNRWA to end the refugee issue believing they can do it and change the regime in the West Bank, but they will fail.

He added, what’s happening is pushing our people into chaos, thinking they can dictate a solution, we, the Palestinian leadership, tell them that even though we don’t have an army and despite the problems of division and facing a violent occupation, we will not accept the deal of the century. Pointing, the EU has to commit to giving the Palestinian people the recognition of their Palestinian state, because who believes in a two-state solution must recognize the two.

The George Mason University researcher Dr. Carol Daniel presented a research paper entitled “Palestinians’ Daily Resistance”, in which she said the Palestinians are engaged in daily smart, non-violent resistance against the occupation. The daily resistance means standing in lines of the occupation barriers, planting trees in targeted lands, purchase education and reaching their houses despite the occupation efforts to control the land. As well as not selling land and houses to settlers, protect local water sources in the villages for farmers to replant olive trees, and face the occupation as Ahd Al-Tamimi did.

She explained that these simple forms of resistance called daily activities and tactics used by people under occupation to undermine the repression they are subjected to. People are practicing this invisible policy to change their lives and it does not replace the organized movement of resisting the occupation; instead it’s circumstantial and an introduction of what will come after.

Sinn Fein's spokesman for international affairs, Pat Sheehan, presented a paper on “Innovative Alternatives of the Negotiations”, in which he discussed his own experience in the Sinn Fein party and the Irish issue. Pointing, the Irish people are unique in Europe, regarding experiencing exploitation and discrimination during the British occupation; therefore, he feels the Palestinians suffering. He added attending this conference came to acquaint you with the Irish experience, especially the Sinn Fein party in creating a successful peace process in Ireland. He stressed, developing the strategy without leaving the primary objectives are essential reasons for ending any war and that negotiations are irreplaceable to reach a final solution.