MIFTAH
Thursday, 28 October. 2021
 
Your Key to Palestine
The Palestinian Initiatives for The Promotoion of Global Dialogue and Democracy
 
 
 

Ramallah – 20/4/2021 – As part of its efforts to set priorities for civil society action within the WPS agenda in Palestine, and in coordination with the Palestinian Women’s Coalition for UN Resolution 1325, MIFTAH held a session highlighting priority advocacy approaches for the Coalition’s strategic actions. The meeting was attended by a number of international organizations and representatives who discussed crucial focal points regarding developments within the local and international political context, which reflect the needs of Palestinian women under Israeli occupation and the challenges of exclusion within the Palestinian political system.

In her keynote speech, Head of the General Union of Palestinian Women, Intisar Al-Wazir, maintained that the women’s movement is working to link the vision of the Women’s Coalition and its plans for Resolution 1325 with international resolutions on the Palestinian cause – first and foremost UN Resolution 194 and UNSCR 242 and 338 – and CEDAW’s General Recommendation No. 30 regarding women under a foreign occupation. Wazir pointed to the efforts of the women’s movement and civil society institutions within the Coalition in following up on the mobilization of international solidarity with Palestinian women under occupation through expanding networks and building alliances.

MIFTAH Executive Director, Dr. Tahreer Araj, said the meeting confirmed the need for coordinated international efforts to support the implementation of the WPS agenda in accordance with the priorities of Palestinian women. These were included in the second generation of the strategic lobbying and advocacy plan, which aim to achieve justice and equality for Palestinian women to live in freedom and dignity and to end the occupation.

The meeting included several interventions by PWC member institutions from the West Bank and Gaza Strip. A brief diagnosis of the overall situation of Palestinian women was presented by Director of the Women’s Affairs Team, Nadia Abu Nahla, such as social and legislative challenges, violence, the internal Palestinian division and violations of women’s rights by the Israeli occupation. These include demolitions, siege, forced displacement, settlement expansion and land confiscation.

International advocacy

The Coalition addressed the issue of international advocacy and accountability within the WPS agenda, confirming that Israeli violations negatively impact the lives of Palestinian women who endure Israeli colonialist occupation and a patriarchal society, which complement each other. This requires interventions and a clear and internationally-endorsed strategy that focuses on confronting the culture of Israeli impunity and amplifies the voices of Palestinian women from economic, social, political and security aspects, in addition to utilizing international tools within the UN to promote accountability and justice. This intervention was presented by Randa Siniora, Director-General of the Women’s Center for Legal Aid and Counseling (WCLAC).

Elections and women

PWC considers the elections to be a crucial file that requires a real reading into women’s participation in the PLC elections, which so far has not been favorable in terms of women’s ability to negotiate their presence and ranking in the lists. This is especially true since the choice of women candidates was made by male leaders and within a conventional and ideological context. Furthermore, the legal amendment on the percentage of women’s participation did not meet their aspirations and was limited to women’s ranking in the lists and did not guarantee or protect their representation in the final outcome. Additionally, the next PLC will be conflicted over the identity of laws and legislations such as the Family Protection Law and the Social Security Law and will require a reassessment of international agreements in accordance with the Basic Law. Hence, PWC is insisting on holding elections and pressuring Israel to allow Jerusalemites to vote and to send international monitoring missions. These points were presented by the Coalition’s coordinator, Rima Nazzal.

Shrinking civic space in Palestine

The meeting broached an important issue, which was the shrinking space for community action in Palestine given the lack of an encompassing democratic environment due to the absence of the PLC and the lack of separation between authorities. Other reasons include the hindrances that emerged for civil society after the issuance of presidential decrees, one of which was issued while civil society was preoccupied with the electoral process. The meeting also pointed to the need for international support, for confronting the occupation and its measures, helping civil society and the PA in investigating Israeli war crimes, pressing for elections in Jerusalem and also pressuring the PA to cancel decisions that restrict the work of civil society institutions. These talking points were presented by Amal Khreisheh, head of the Palestinian Working Women Society for Development.

International mechanisms that support the WPS agenda in Palestine

Human rights expert Mervat Rishmawi then addressed the international mechanisms that support the WPS agenda in Palestine and how these mechanisms can be used to serve the agenda. These include the International Criminal Court (ICC), international treaties such as CEDAW , the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and The Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination along with carrying out other measures in the Security Council. This is in addition to: holding meetings pertaining to women peace and security, holding official and unofficial meetings on Palestine at the Security Council; and integrating WPS concerns into the work of the Security Council and regional and international organizations. Rishmawi reiterated that the main and real threat to Palestinians is the occupation, which therefore necessitates countries to shoulder their responsibilities vis-à-vis supporting the Women’s Coalition for Implementing Resolution 1325, politically and financially.

Interventions by diplomatic representatives in Palestine

Norway

Ms. Ingrid Norstein, head of cooperation at the Norwegian Representative Office, stressed on the importance of formulating an action plan linked to the rights of Palestinian women to live in peace and security. She said they have a clear goal, which is to reach a sustainable two-state solution and that as a Security Council member, Norway believes it is important to promote action on the issues of protection and defense of women’s rights, to support the efforts of Palestinian women in peace and security and promote accountability of the occupation, as a major obstacle for Palestinian women.

Switzerland

Counsellor and Deputy Head of Mission at the Swiss Representative Office, Laetitia Kirianoff also reaffirmed her country’s support for PWC’s strategic lobbying and advocacy plan, its support for the protection of the rule of law and accountability, for vulnerable communities and for establishing platforms that endorse the work of civil society institutions. She also called for respect for public freedoms and for holding fair elections while also acknowledging the obstacles Israel is placing before them.

Recommendations

The session closed with a number of recommendations presented by Sama Aweidah, Director General of the Women’s Studies Center, including: the importance of joint action between Palestinian women and countries focused on human rights; the formation of a committee of PWC members and country representatives in Palestine; providing periodic reports on violations in Palestine; encouraging international support, especially from the EU, for the presence of Palestinian women in international forums to push for Israel’s accountability; coordination of support for international institutions in a way that serves the priorities of the Women’s Coalition within the WPS agenda, especially regarding international advocacy; pressing for guaranteeing that women’s organizations are allowed to work freely and without restrictions by demanding the cancellation of amendments to the Palestinian Charitable Associations and Civil Society Organizations Law.

MIFTAH held this meeting, with support from the Norwegian Representative Office, to highlight pressing issues in need of action through coordinating cooperation between Palestinian civil society and international parties working with the WPS agenda in Palestine.

 
 
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