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Date posted: December 12, 2019
By MIFTAH

Ramallah - The WIFAQ Shadow Committee for the national reconciliation formal committees, recently held a dialogue session to present a research paper entitled Reconstruction from a womens perspective prepared on behalf of MIFTAH by researcher Abdallah Mahmoud Sharshara. The meeting was attended by members of WIFAQ and which included several presentations.

In his paper, Sharshara said that even though the war on Gaza had ended five years ago, the reconstruction process had not yet ended. He also mentioned the reasons why this process had taken much longer than anticipated, including: the Israeli occupation and the complicated internal Palestinian situation, namely the ongoing division, which he added, casts a shadow on the reality of Palestinian women.

The objective of the research paper is mainly to develop a concept for the reconstruction process through formulating an approach on reconstruction under the occupation on the one hand, and social reconciliation amid the internal Palestinian division on the other, within UN Security Council Resolution 1325. In addition, Sharshara said the aim was to review the National Early Recovery and Reconstruction Plan for Gaza from a gender-inclusive perspective proposed in the paper and which is based on similar international experiences.

The paper pointed to the social and structural impacts on women in particular and the repercussions at the familial and individual level for Palestinian women in the Gaza Strip including a lack of legal protection and participation in the reconstruction committee.

The paper, which was based on a critical reading of the National Early Recovery and Reconstruction Plan for Gaza from a gender perspective and on a number of workshops organized by MIFTAH with civil society institutions and WIFAQ committee members in the Gaza Strip, confirmed that such a unique situation required a Palestinian-specific definition of the reconstruction process. Also, in order for the reconstruction process in Palestine to coincide with related UN resolutions, including UNSCR 1325, reconstruction plans and rebuilding of the infrastructure must respond to three basic principles: holding Israel responsible, reforming Palestinian institutions and achieving Palestinian national reconciliation.

Regarding the situation of Palestinian women in the Gaza Strip, Sharshara said, Women in the Gaza Strip, who comprise half of Palestinian society, suffer from double-jeopardy: the oppression of the Israeli occupation and the oppression of living in a patriarchal society. Nonetheless, this has not prevented women in Gaza from being an active part in the struggle against the occupation and also in the struggle towards national reconciliation and ending the division.

Womens activist and member of the WIFAQ Committee Rima Nazzal commented on the paper by saying, In terms of reconstruction, women have been the most affected by the Israeli aggression on the Gaza Strip, mostly due to home demolitions. This has left them with tremendous psychological scars because for them, the home means security, stability and protection from exposure. Women put much more value on this than the rest of the family because women and in particular, homemakers, are the primary caregivers and those who run the household. They shoulder the responsibility of maintaining the stability and safety of their family. Women are the ones at home the most and so their participation in this process means a lot to them. Whats more, their participation is an added value to the reconstruction committees towards ensuring their work is just and fair, especially in light of the division and the political polarization that it produced. The fact is, women are less faction-oriented and their presence in the reconciliation committees can push things towards fairer legislation and more just criteria.

In regards to the steps the WIFAQ committee should take to follow up on the paper, Nazzal said: Perhaps what is needed is for WIFAQ and its allies from other committees formed after the division such as -- the Coalition of independent figures, Masarat, and the National figures for ending the division should press for ways of expediting the reconstruction process in order to achieve justice and equity. She also said this role could be carried out by Egypt given that it oversees the reconciliation file and has an interest in speeding up reconstruction. Nazzal also said: WIFAQ and its allies, particularly the factions less involved in the division, could lobby and advocate for national consensus over reconstruction and distance the process from political disputes.

MIFTAH project coordinator Najwa Yaghi-Sandouka said the objective of the session was to boost the abilities of the WIFAQ Committee in pressuring decision-makers and relevant parties to follow up on the reconciliation file. She said this could be achieved by providing them with the necessary information on the impact of the division and the failure to achieve national reconciliation on women in the Gaza Strip. Yaghi-Sandouka explained that this was a continuation of MIFTAHs efforts to promote the participation of women and girls in strengthening the social fabric and achieving national reconciliation within the OXFAM-funded project Conflict and Fragility.

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