Constitutional Committee

The focus of this review is around key issues affecting the Palestine-Israeli conflict, namely self-determination, Israeli Zionism and the involvement of external forces which are themes that appear in most literature. Self determination is defined as the right of a people to chart their own destiny. It is rooted in the development of a people into an entity sharing a common history, culture and identity and a considerable territory as well as having a form of governance, an established economy and a sizeable population.

It is a right recognized by the United Nations and in order to prioritize international support, it formed a classification system for all peoples aspiring to be accorded such right. Palestine qualified under the U. N. Class A Mandate. In effect, this classification meant that the status of Palestine as a “people” is internationally recognized and there is no question that statehood should be granted. However, this aim is yet to be realized because to date the recognition of Palestinian self-determination remains only in principle (Fox 19).

The end of hostilities can only be seen with the implementation of a peace process that treats Palestine and Israel on equal terms – Israel as a duly recognized state and Palestine as a nation and people worthy of independence (Fox 16). However, the interest of Palestine has largely been subjugated to that of Israel. Historically, the various resolutions and accords initiated by the international community through the United Nations have put Israel to a greater economic and political advantage over Palestine.

This situation has helped perpetuate the conflict and is perceived as a strong anti-Arab sentiment in most of the world. Resolution 1514 or the Declaration on the Granting of National Independence to Colonial Territories passed by the U. N. in 1960, recognized the right of peoples and nations for self-determination and legitimized support for their aspirations to achieve autonomy. Fox (15) noted that Palestine was among the few nations whose complex political situation resulted in an ambivalent attitude towards its quest for statehood.

Beyond this declaration, the Palestinians in the West Bank were in practice regarded not as a people but as refugees, a status that does not merit the right and legal status towards self-determination. In 1993, the Oslo Accord outlined the relationship of the two parties by defining who are the Palestinians and the Palestinian territory in question. Here Massad (413) comments that Palestinians became limited to those who occupied the West Bank and Gaza – the main contested regions, and who composed only a third of the total Palestinian population.

This excluded majority of the Palestinians who reside in Israel or Jordan. Subsequently the authority of the PLO as the recognized political entity representing all Palestinians was similarly reduced to this one third. This greatly undermined their Class A Mandate status. Since the Oslo Accord, plans and bi-lateral talks have gone nowhere near a resolution of the conflict. Butenschon (285) observes that what has been achieved is the recognition of Israel’s jurisdiction over the OPT - a principle that Palestine is forced to recognize as well.

Palestinian political policies were brought to the negotiating table for scrutiny but not Israel’s. The self-defense policy of Israel which is the basis for military actions against Palestine and has resulted in atrocities such as the Hebron massacre has not been questioned or met with sanctions by the U. N. (Butenschon 285). Clearly, human rights in Palestine should be regarded in the context of the right to self-determination that remains in principle but not in practice.

In effect, it is tantamount to a continuing non-recognition of this right by the international community and is one of the factors why the conflict has lasted for so long. Butenschon (303) suggests that a stronger and more decisive stance should be made by the U. N. with regards to Palestine’s appeal for autonomy. III. Methodology This paper serves as a case study of the state of human rights in Palestine. It will draw information from journals, newspaper articles, books, the UN Commission on Human Rights reports and reliable websites for the historical background and current issues.

It will also utilize the materials available at the Arab Human Rights Organization’s website for information regarding its principles, objectives and activities that relate to the conflict in order to determine how it addresses the situation in the region.

Works Cited Butenschon, Nils A. “Accommodating Conflicting Claims to National Self-Determination: The Intractable Case of Israel and Palestine”. International Journal on Minority and Group Rights 13:285-306 (2006). 19 April 2009 < http://web. ebscohost. com article database>. Constitutional Committee. Constitution of the State of Palestine: Third Draft. 25 March 2003.

19 April 2009 <http://www. jmcc. org/documents/palestineconstitution-eng. pdf>. Fox, M. J. “Missing the Boat to Self-Determination: Palestine and Namibia in Retrospect”. Arab Studies Quarterly 20 (1998). 19 April 2009 << http://www. questia. com article database>. Jonah, James O. C. “The Middle East Conflict: The Palestinian Dimension”. Global Governance 8 (2002). 19 April 2009 < http://www. questia. com article database>. Dugard, John. Human Rights in Palestine. 21 June 2006. United Nations Commission on Human Rights (UNCHR). 19 April 2009. <http://www. unhchr. ch/huricane/huricane. nsf/0/0478C20910151B14C12571940058247A? opendocument>.

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