Title: The Palestinian Strategic Report 2011/12
Editor: Prof. Dr. Mohsen Mohammad Saleh
Published in: 2013 (1st Edition)
Physical details: 415, pp, 17 *24 cm, hardback.
Al-Zaytouna Centre for Studies & Consultations has just released the Palestinian Strategic Report 2011/12 (PSR 2011/12).
It reviews the various developments concerning the Palestinian question in a comprehensive, objective and academic manner, covering the period up until the end of 2011/12, as well as some developments in 2012.
PSR 2011/12, which is being published for the seventh consecutive year, is one of the most important studies published on an annual basis by al-Zaytouna.
It has become a staple reference for specialists and those interested in Palestinian affairs, owing to its comprehensive coverage of the developments related to the Palestinian question throughout the whole year.
PSR 2011/12 observes strict professional and academic standards, and offers a wealth of data, up-to-date statistics, and tables and charts. It also contains strategic assessments and offers an outlook of future events.
This 415-page book was co-authored by 12 researchers specializing in Palestinian affairs, and was revised by four advisers, and edited by Associate Professor Prof. Dr. Mohsen Mohammad Saleh.
This year’s PSR contains seven chapters instead of eight, with demographic and economic indicators having been merged into one chapter, and added to educational indicators in the West Bank (WB) and Gaza Strip (GS) – distinguishing this year’s report from its predecessors.
PSR 2011/12 concludes that the Palestinian political arena is still experiencing the same problems and obstacles seen in previous years, most notably the failure to bring together the various factions and constituents of the Palestinian people under one umbrella (the Palestine Liberation Organization—PLO); the lack of a unified strategic vision; the failure to agree on the priorities for national action in the current stage; and the continuing conflict between the strategies of resistance and negotiated peace.
This is in addition to the fact that Palestinian decision-making centers remain in disarray, coming under pressure from the Israeli occupation in the WB, and Israeli blockade in GS.
As regards reconciliation, PSR 2011/12 argues that steps towards achieving it will continue to stumble, expressing little optimism regarding the legislative and presidential elections, and the elections for the Palestinian National Council (PNC).
Furthermore, there remain significant hurdles before the reformation of the PLO and the security forces, where the insistence of the Palestinian Authority (PA) in Ramallah on maintaining a high level of security coordination with the Israel remains the biggest obstacle to achieving real Palestinian reconciliation.
As concerns Israel, the PSR states that 2011/12 did not witness any significant changes in relation to its internal political landscape, except the fact that the Israeli society has continued to lurch to the extreme right in general, in tandem with increased racist manifestations targeting the Palestinians of 1948.
The PSR discounted the possibility of the negotiations making any serious breakthroughs in the remainder of 2012, especially as the causes and factors leading to the failure of the efforts to resume negotiations remain extant, chiefly as a result of Israeli ongoing settlement activities; reduced American interest in the Palestinian issue in light of the preoccupation with the presidential elections; and continuing changes unfolding in many Arab countries, most notably Egypt.
At the Arab level, PSR 2011/12 indicates that the Palestinian cause was not absent from the agendas of the Arab uprisings of 2011/12, albeit it was not prominently present in them either.
The emergence of democratic systems that reflect the will of the populaces, and with the rise of political factions that are faithful to the Palestinian cause and are not subservient to foreign agendas, hope remains that the Palestinian question will receive more attention from these new regimes.
With respect to international affairs, the report concludes that international diplomatic efforts concerning the Palestinian question declined further in 2011/12, as a result of several factors and developments.
These include the uprisings and transformations in several Arab countries; the resurging tension surrounding the Iranian nuclear program and the prospects of a military confrontation; and the repercussions of the global financial crisis which has particularly hit countries in the European Union.
PSR 2011/12 points out that 2012 marks the year of the US presidential elections, during which American diplomatic efforts in the Middle East traditionally wane, while the stances of both the Democratic and Republican parties converge towards the Israeli position, with a view to win over the Jewish vote.
The report also collates many statistics concerning Israeli violations at various levels, including the fact that 118 Palestinians had been killed by the Israeli forces and settlers in GS and the WB (including Jerusalem) in 2011/12, while 554 Palestinians and international solidarity activists were wounded.
On the other hand, Israel Security Agency (ISA) recorded 21 Israeli deaths in the same year as a result of attacks carried out by Palestinians, while 122 Israelis were wounded.
On the subject of settlement building, the PA Information Center Concerning Colonization and Annexation Wall Affairs in the Ministry of State recorded the existence of 474 settlement sites in the WB until the end of 2011, including 184 settlements, 171 unauthorized outposts, 26 other settlement sites and 93 buildings which were partially or fully appropriated by the settlers in East Jerusalem.
In addition, PSR 2011/12 draws attention to the fact that the pace of attacks in Jerusalem has been surging year after year, to stress that the battle for the Judaization of the Holy City remains Israel’s first priority, in conjunction with a trend of growing obsession with the Jewishness of the state dominating public thinking in the state of Israel.
The report also adds that 2011 saw a marked upsurge in attacks against Islamic and Christian holy sites in Palestine by Jewish extremists and Israel, mostly as part of the ‘price tag’ wave of attacks by settlers in the WB.
As for demographic indicators, the number of Palestinians in the world stood at the end of 2011 at about 11.22 million people, with half of whom, i.e., 5.63 million (50.1%), living in the Diaspora. The other half, i.e., 5.6 million people (49.9%) live in historic Palestine, including around 1.37 million in the territories occupied in 1948, and 4.23 million people in the WB and GS.
According to PSR 2011/12, if current population growth levels of both Palestinians and Jews remain the same, the populations of Palestinians and Jews in historic Palestine will equalize in 2016, when the number of both Jews and Palestinians will be approximately 6.4 million. In 2020, the Jewish population will be 6.9 million and will represent about 48.9 percent of the total population, compared to 7.2 million Palestinians.
Concerning economic indicators in the WB and GS, the report states that 2011 did not see any new developments concerning the direct dependency of the Palestinian economy in the WB and GS on the Israeli economy, or the fact that this economy is isolated from the Arab world and the rest of the world owing to Israel’s control of all international ports and Palestinian border crossings. This is in addition to the fact that Palestinian foreign trade is mostly done with Israel.
PSR 2011/12 also highlights the enormous disparity between the economic conditions of the Palestinians in the WB and GS on one hand, and those of the Israelis on the other. Indeed, the per capita income in 2011 was $1614 in the WB and GS (around $1981 in the WB and $1073 in GS), compared to $31,291 in Israel. The GDP in the WB and GS reached around $6.34 billion in 2011, while the Israeli GDP totaled $242.92 bill