Author Archives: Nabil

The Arab Center for Research and Policy Studies (ACRPS) will devote its Tenth Annual Conference on Issues of Democracy and Democratic Transition to the study of these two countries (Sudan and Algeria) that are undergoing the political transition process in critical local, regional and external contexts.

Barely a decade since the revolutions of 2011 that marked a significant transformation in the region’s social and political history, a new upsurge erupted in several Arab countries, proclaiming the persistence of popular aspiration for change despite the challenges and setbacks that beset the first wave. Two popular revolutions in Sudan and Algeria gave rise to unexpected changes in dominant ruling regimes clinging fast to their positions: faced with sweeping mass demonstrations President Omar al-Bashir was overthrown on April 11, 2019, while only days earlier massive waves of protest in Algeria had prompted President Abd al-Aziz Bouteflika to end his term as President of the Republic, on April 2, 2019. Since these developments, Sudan and Algeria each embarked on a difficult process of political transition towards a democratic system based on concepts of pluralism, rule of law, citizenship and protection of civil and political freedoms. The path of transition in the two countries faces many obstacles and challenges.

To learn more about the event click here.

Read the background paper in English for more details of specific themes here.

Prominent Palestinian and other Arab intellectuals have responded in a public statement to the growing adoption of the definition of anti-Semitism by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA). They object to the way this definition is being deployed to suppress support for Palestinian rights in North America and several European countries, arguing that the Israeli government and its supporters are instrumentalizing the fight against anti-Semitism to delegitimize and silence defenders of Palestinian rights.

The authors of the open letter recognize anti-Semitism as a real and growing problem in North America and Europe, in conjunction with a general increase of all types of racism and far-right movements that they are fully committed to refuting and combating. Further, the authors believe that the fight against anti-Semitism, properly understood, is perfectly compatible with the struggle for justice for Palestinians as an anti-colonial struggle.

The deployment of anti-Semitism in efforts to delegitimize the Palestinian cause perverts and misdirects the fight against persistent and resurgent anti-Semitism. The statement’s signatories understand the struggle against anti-Semitism to be one for political and human emancipation as much as Palestinian resistance is one against occupation and statelessness.

Statement on Antisemitism and the Question of Palestine

We, the undersigned, Palestinian and Arab academics, journalists, and intellectuals, are hereby stating our views regarding the definition of antisemitism by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA), and the way this definition has been applied, interpreted and deployed in several countries of Europe and North America.

In recent years, the fight against antisemitism has been increasingly instrumentalized by the Israeli government and its supporters in an effort to delegitimize the Palestinian cause and silence defenders of Palestinian rights. Diverting the necessary struggle against antisemitism to serve such an agenda threatens to debase this struggle and hence to discredit and weaken it.

Antisemitism must be debunked and combated. Regardless of pretext, no expression of hatred for Jews as Jews should be tolerated anywhere in the world. Antisemitism manifests itself in sweeping generalizations and stereotypes about the Jews, regarding power and money in particular, along with conspiracy theories and Holocaust denial. We regard as legitimate and necessary the fight against such attitudes. We also believe that the lessons of the Holocaust as well as those of other genocides of modern times must be part of the education of new generations against all forms of racial prejudice and hatred.

The fight against antisemitism must, however, be approached in a principled manner, lest it defeat its purpose. Through “examples” that it provides, the IHRA definition conflates Judaism with Zionism in assuming that all Jews are Zionists, and that the State of Israel in its current reality embodies the self-determination of all Jews. We profoundly disagree with this. The fight against antisemitism should not be turned into a stratagem to delegitimize the fight against the oppression of the Palestinians, the denial of their rights, and the continued occupation of their land. We regard the following principles as crucial in that regard.

  1. The fight against antisemitism must be deployed within the frame of international law and human rights. It should be part and parcel of the fight against all forms of racism and xenophobia, including Islamophobia, anti-Arab, and anti-Palestinian racism. The aim of this struggle is to guarantee freedom and emancipation for all oppressed groups. It is deeply distorted when geared towards the defense of an oppressive and predatory state.
  2. There is a huge difference between a condition where Jews are singled out, oppressed and suppressed as a minority by antisemitic regimes or groups, and a condition where the self-determination of a Jewish population in Palestine/Israel has been implemented in the form of an ethnic exclusivist and territorially expansionist state. As it currently exists, the State of Israel is based on uprooting the vast majority of the natives – what Palestinians and Arabs refer to as the Nakba – and on subjugating those natives who still live on the territory of historical Palestine as either second-class citizens or people under occupation, denying them their right to self-determination.
  3. The IHRA definition of antisemitism and the related legal measures adopted in several countries have been deployed mostly against leftwing and human rights groups supporting Palestinian rights and the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign, sidelining the very real threat to Jews coming from rightwing white nationalist movements in Europe and the U.S. The portrayal of the BDS campaign as antisemitic is a gross distortion of what is fundamentally a legitimate non-violent means of struggle for Palestinian rights.
  4. The IHRA definition’s statement that an example of antisemitism is “Denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, e.g., by claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavor” is quite odd. It does not bother to recognize that under international law the current State of Israel has been an occupying power for over half a century, as recognized by the governments of countries where the IHRA definition is being upheld. It does not bother to consider whether this right includes the right to create a Jewish majority by way of ethnic cleansing and whether it should be balanced against the rights of the Palestinian people. Furthermore, the IHRA definition potentially discards as antisemitic all non-Zionist visions of the future of the Israeli state, such as the advocacy of a binational state or a secular democratic one that represents all its citizens equally. Genuine support for the principle of a people’s right to self-determination cannot exclude the Palestinian nation, nor any other.
  5. We believe that no right to self-determination should include the right to uproot another people and prevent it from returning to its land, or any other means of securing a demographic majority within the state. The demand by Palestinians for their right of return to the land from which they themselves, their parents and grandparents were expelled cannot be construed as antisemitic. The fact that such a demand creates anxieties among Israelis does not prove that it is unjust, nor that it is antisemitic. It is a right recognized by international law as represented in UNGA resolution 194 of 1948.
  6. To level the charge of antisemitism against anyone who regards the existing State of Israel as racist, notwithstanding the actual institutional and constitutional discrimination upon which it is based, amounts to granting Israel absolute impunity. Israel can thus deport its Palestinian citizens, or revoke their citizenship or deny them the right to vote, and still be immune from the accusation of racism. The IHRA definition and the way it has been deployed prohibit any discussion of the Israeli state as based on ethno-religious discrimination. It thus contravenes elementary justice, and basic norms of human rights and international law.
  7. We believe that justice requires full support of the Palestinians’ right to self-determination, including the demand to end the internationally acknowledged occupation of their territories and the statelessness and deprivation of Palestinian refugees. The suppression of Palestinian rights in the IHRA definition betrays an attitude upholding Jewish privilege in Palestine instead of Jewish rights, and Jewish supremacy over Palestinians instead of Jewish safety. We believe that human values and rights are indivisible and that the fight against antisemitism should go hand in hand with the struggle on behalf of all oppressed peoples and groups for dignity, equality, and emancipation.

List of Signatories (in alphabetical order)

Samir Abdallah
Filmmaker, Paris, France

Soleman Abu-Bader
Professor and Director of Doctoral Program, Howard University, Washington, DC, USA

Nadia Abu El-Haj
Ann Olin Whitney Professor of Anthropology, Columbia University, USA

Lila Abu-Lughod
Joseph L. Buttenwieser Professor of Social Science, Columbia University, USA

Bashir Abu-Manneh
Reader in Postcolonial Literature, University of Kent, UK

Gilbert Achcar
Professor of Development Studies, SOAS, University of London, UK

Nadia Leila Aissaoui
Sociologist and Writer on Feminist Issues, Paris, France

Mamdouh Aker
Board of Trustees, Birzeit University, Palestine

Khalil al-Anani
Associate Professor at the Doha Institute for Graduate Studies and Senior Fellow at Arab Center Washington DC, USA

Mohammad Almasri
Executive Director, Arab Center for Research and Policy Studies, Doha, Qatar

Mohamed Alyahyai
Writer and Novelist, Oman

Suad Amiry
Writer and Architect, Ramallah, Palestine

Sinan Antoon
Associate Professor, New York University, Iraq-US

Talal Asad
Emeritus Professor of Anthropology, Graduate Center, CUNY, USA

Hanan Ashrawi
Former Professor of Comparative Literature at Birzeit University, Palestine

Aziz Al-Azmeh
University Professor Emeritus, Central European University, Vienna, Austria

Zeina Azzam
Poet, Writer and Publications Editor at Arab Center Washington DC, USA

Abdullah Baabood
Academic and Researcher in Gulf Studies, Oman

Nadia Al-Bagdadi
Professor of History, Central European University, Vienna, Austria

Sam Bahour
Writer, Al-Bireh/Ramallah, Palestine

Zainab Bahrani
Edith Porada Professor of Art History and Archaeology, Columbia University, USA

Rana Barakat
Assistant Professor of History, Birzeit University, Palestine

Bashir Bashir
Associate Professor of Political Theory, Open University of Israel, Raanana, State of Israel

Taysir Batniji
Artist-Painter, Gaza, Palestine and Paris, France

Tahar Benjelloun
Writer, Paris, France

Mohammed Bennis
Poet, Mohammedia, Morocco

Mohammed Berrada
Writer and Literary Critic, Rabat, Morocco

Omar Berrada
Writer and Curator, New York, USA

Amahl Bishara
Associate Professor and Chair, Department of Anthropology, Tufts University, USA

Anouar Brahem
Musician and Composer, Tunisia

Salem Brahimi
Filmmaker, Algeria-France

Aboubakr Chraïbi
Professor, Arabic Studies Department, INALCO, Paris, France

Selma Dabbagh
Writer, London, UK

Izzat Darwazeh
Professor of Communications Engineering, University College London, UK

Marwan Darweish
Associate Professor, Coventry University, UK

Beshara Doumani
Mahmoud Darwish Professor of Palestinian Studies and of History, Brown University, USA

Haidar Eid
Associate Professor of English Literature, Al-Aqsa University, Gaza, Palestine

Ziad Elmarsafy
Professor of Comparative Literature, King’s College London, UK

Noura Erakat
Assistant Professor, Africana Studies and Criminal Justice, Rutgers University, USA

Samera Esmeir
Associate Professor of Rhetoric, University of California, Berkeley, USA

Khaled Fahmy
FBA, Professor of Modern Arabic Studies, University of Cambridge, UK

Ali Fakhrou
Academic and Writer, Bahrain

Randa Farah
Associate Professor, Department of Anthropology, Western University, Canada

Khaled Farraj
Palestinian researcher

Leila Farsakh
Associate Professor of Political Science, University of Massachusetts Boston, USA

Khaled Furani
Associate Professor of Sociology & Anthropology, Tel-Aviv University, State of Israel

Burhan Ghalioun
Emeritus Professor of Sociology, Sorbonne 3, Paris, France

Asad Ghanem
Professor of Political Science, Haifa University, State of Israel

Honaida Ghanim
General Director of the Palestinian Forum for Israeli Studies Madar, Ramallah, Palestine

George Giacaman
Professor of Philosophy and Cultural Studies, Birzeit University, Palestine

Rita Giacaman
Professor, Institute of Community and Public Health, Birzeit University, Palestine

Amel Grami
Professor of Gender Studies, Tunisian University, Tunis

Subhi Hadidi
Literary Critic, Syria-France

Ghassan Hage
Professor of Anthropology and Social Theory, University of Melbourne, Australia

Samira Haj
Emeritus Professor of History, CSI/Graduate Center, CUNY, USA

Yassin Al-Haj Saleh
Writer, Syria

Rema Hammami
Associate Professor of Anthropology, Birzeit University, Palestine

Dyala Hamzah
Associate Professor of Arab History, Université de Montréal, Canada

Sari Hanafi
Professor of Sociology, American University of Beirut, Lebanon

Adam Hanieh
Reader in Development Studies, SOAS, University of London, UK

Kadhim Jihad Hassan,
Writer and translator, Professor at INALCO-Sorbonne, Paris, France

Nadia Hijab
Author and Human Rights Activist, London, UK

Jamil Hilal
Writer, Ramallah, Palestine

Bensalim Himmich
Academic, Novelist and Writer, Morocco

Serene Hleihleh
Cultural Activist, Jordan-Palestine

Imad K. Harb
Director of Research and Analysis at Arab Center Washington DC, USA

Khaled Hroub
Professor in Residence of Middle Eastern Studies, Northwestern University, Qatar

Mahmoud Hussein
Writer, Paris, France

Lakhdar Ibrahimi
Paris School of International Affairs, Institut d’Etudes Politiques, France

Annemarie Jacir
Filmmaker, Palestine

Islah Jad
Associate Professor of Political Science, Birzeit University, Palestine

Khalil E. Jahshan
Executive Director, Arab Center Washington DC, USA

Lamia Joreige
Visual Artist and Filmmaker, Beirut, Lebanon

Amal Al-Jubouri
Writer, Iraq

Mudar Kassis
Associate Professor of Philosophy, Birzeit University, Palestine

Nabeel Kassis
Former Professor of Physics and Former President, Birzeit University, Palestine

Salam Kawakibi
Director of Arab Center for Research and Policy Studies, Paris, France

Muhammad Ali Khalidi
Presidential Professor of Philosophy, CUNY Graduate Center, USA

Rashid Khalidi
Edward Said Professor of Modern Arab Studies, Columbia University, USA

Michel Khleifi
Filmmaker, Palestine-Belgium

Elias Khoury
Writer, Beirut, Lebanon

Nadim Khoury
Associate Professor of International Studies, Lillehammer University College, Norway

Rachid Koreichi
Artist-Painter, Paris, France

Jonathan Kuttab
Human Rights Attorney, author and Nonresident Fellow at Arab Center Washington DC, USA

Adila Laïdi-Hanieh
Director General, The Palestinian Museum, Palestine

Rabah Loucini
Professor of History, Oran University, Algeria

Mehdi Mabrouk
Professor of Sociology, Ex-Minister of Culture, Director of Arab Center for Research and Policy Studies, Tunis, Tunisia

Rabab El-Mahdi
Associate Professor of Political Science, The American University in Cairo, Egypt

Ziad Majed
Associate Professor of Middle East Studies and IR, American University of Paris, France

Jumana Manna
Artist, Berlin, Germany

Camille Mansour
Researcher and author

Farouk Mardam Bey
Publisher, Paris, France

Mai Masri
Palestinian Filmmaker, Lebanon

Mazen Masri
Senior Lecturer in Law, City University of London, UK

Dina Matar
Reader in Political Communication and Arab Media, SOAS, University of London, UK

Hisham Matar
Writer, Professor at Barnard College, Columbia University, USA

Khaled Mattawa
Poet, William Wilhartz Professor of English Literature, University of Michigan, USA

Yousef Munayyer
Nonresident Senior Fellow at Arab Center Washington DC, USA

Karma Nabulsi
Professor of Politics and IR, University of Oxford, UK

Hassan Nafaa
Emeritus Professor of Political Science, Cairo University, Egypt

Nadine Naber
Professor, Dept of Gender and Women’s Studies, University of Illinois at Chicago, USA

Issam Nassar
Professor, Illinois State University, USA

Maha Nassar
Associate Professor, School of Middle Eastern and North African Studies, University of Arizona, USA

Sari Nusseibeh
Emeritus Professor of Philosophy, Al-Quds University, Palestine

Najwa Al-Qattan
Emeritus Professor of History, Loyola Marymount University, USA

Omar Al-Qattan
Filmmaker, Chair of The Palestinian Museum and the A.M. Qattan Foundation, UK

Nadim N. Rouhana
Professor of International Affairs, The Fletcher School, Tufts University, USA

Ahmad Sa’adi
Professor, Haifa, State of Israel

Haider Saeed
Research and Head of Research Department, Arab Center for Research and Policy Studies, Doha, Qatar

Rasha Salti
Independent Curator, Writer, Researcher of Art and Film, Germany-Lebanon

Elias Sanbar
Writer, Paris, France

Farès Sassine
Professor of Philosophy and Literary Critic, Beirut, Lebanon

Sherene Seikaly
Associate Professor of History, University of California, Santa Barbara, USA

Samah Selim
Associate Professor, A, ME & SA Languages & Literatures, Rutgers University, USA

Leila Shahid
Writer, Beirut, Lebanon

Nadera Shalhoub-Kevorkian
Lawrence D Biele Chair in Law, Hebrew University, State of Israel

Anton Shammas
Professor of Comparative Literature, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, USA

Yara Sharif
Senior Lecturer, Architecture and Cities, University of Westminster, UK

Hanan Al-Shaykh
Writer, London, UK

Raja Shehadeh
Lawyer and Writer, Ramallah, Palestine

Gilbert Sinoué
Writer, Paris, France

Ahdaf Soueif
Writer, Egypt-UK

Mayssoun Sukarieh
Senior Lecturer in Development Studies, King’s College London, UK

Elia Suleiman
Filmmaker, Palestine-France

Nimer Sultany
Reader in Public Law, SOAS, University of London, UK

Jad Tabet
Architect and writer, Beirut, Lebanon

Jihan El-Tahri
Filmmaker, Egypt

Salim Tamari
Emeritus Professor of Sociology, Birzeit University, Palestine

Wassyla Tamzali
Writer, Contemporary Art Producer, Algeria

Fawwaz Traboulsi
Writer, Beirut Lebanon

Dominique Vidal
Historian and Journalist, Palestine-France

Haytham El-Wardany
Writer, Egypt-Germany

Said Zeedani
Emeritus Associate Professor of Philosophy, Al-Quds University, Palestine

Rafeef Ziadah
Lecturer in Comparative Politics of the Middle East, SOAS, University of London, UK

Khaled Ziade
Author, historian, former diplomat and Director of Arab Center for Research and Policy Studies, Beirut, Lebanon

Radwan Ziadeh
Syrian Activist and Senior Fellow at Arab Center Washington DC, USA

Raef Zreik
Minerva Humanities Centre, Tel-Aviv University, State of Israel

Elia Zureik
Professor Emeritus, Queen’s University, Canada

A preliminary version of this list was published by The Guardian here.

*Photo credit: Flickr/Stephen Melkisethian


Introduction to the Winter School


The objective of the winter school/program is to provide an in-depth and critical look at specifically selected topics in the broader study of the Middle East. For participating scholars, it provides an opportunity to network with regional scholars, gain substantive content unavailable in their home institutions and countries, and receive feedback from respected scholars.

Target Audience

The winter school/program is a 10 day program from Jan 3 to 13, 2021, open to advanced graduate students and early career researchers in the social sciences and humanities.

General Theme of the Winter School

We are proposing the theme of “The State in Flux.” This theme was chosen to reflect emerging research trends in a variety of social science disciplines, and will generate a wide range of applicants. It also reflects the current challenge facing states with the Covid-19 pandemic, and its impact on their legitimacy and sovereignty as well as serving as a test of their capacity. Finally, this theme will be approached from an interdisciplinary perspective, which will enrich the winter school and participant perspectives.

Although the current configuration of Arab states and their legitimacy has been a topic of discussion in academia and in the public sphere for decades, questions related to state sovereignty and citizenship in the Arab world have become ever more pressing after the Arab Spring uprisings. The protests revealed deep seated issues of legitimacy within many states across the region, and civil conflicts which emerged following the uprisings has led to questions of state capacity, and prospects for failure/collapse. Theoretical debates concerning states’ lack of legitimacy due to their modern origin in colonial partition after the fall of the Ottoman Empire could not explain the reality of contemporary Arab states. On the other hand, it became imperative upon researchers who deal with the issues of transitions to democracy to understand state stability and legitimacy, without which such a transitions are impossible. It thus became crucial to answer questions pertaining to this subject, such as: what role the international system and changing conceptions of sovereignty have had to play in state collapse, the challenges faced by the Arab state from ethnic/linguistic/religious heterogeneity , and whether Arab regimes even had nation-building on their agenda. These answers are crucial not only from a theoretical perspective, but because they foreshadow the future of democracy in the region. These questions are also related to another debate in the research, in particular from a structural approach, as to whether these problems stem from a reality of strong societies and weak states, or rather from strong states and weak societies.

Moreover, the nature of citizenship across the region – whether in states with secessionist movements or in states with large migrant populations – is still up for question. Recent insights made by Arab academia on the question of Arab identity, statehood, and what it means to be a citizen of our region have not been adequately discussed or incorporated in Western literature. For these reasons, a graduate winter school bringing together Western and Arab scholars will bear fruitful insights.

The State and Sovereignty

The main subtheme of the 2021 Winter School relates to the state and sovereignty. The traditional conception of sovereignty has repeatedly been contested, with increased globalization, periodic involvement of international actors in the domestic politics of various states, the rise of violent non-state actors in certain cases, and shared challenges such as the Covid-19 pandemic, which has sparked debate about where a state’s right to sovereignty may end.

In the Arab world recently, international involvement has taken on more direct forms, such as in the case of Syria with Iranian and Russian involvement, and in the cases of a number of countries in the region beholden to external powers, militarily and/or economically. The repressive apparatus of many countries would indeed not function without external support (in the form of weapon sales, spread of surveillance technology, etc). Another example is the Palestinian Authority, which continues to pursue state recognition in international venues, all while continuing to lose land and resources to the Israeli occupation. Thus, we arrive at questions such as: What does it mean to be a sovereign state in an era of increased direct international involvement? Does the definition revolve around territorial borders, or should it mean something more? Can states with weak capacity truly be sovereign? What variables are most important in explaining state formation trajectories, in the Arab world and beyond? How does that explain political development of these states and their sovereignty today, or lack thereof?

Therefore, for the 2021 Graduate Winter School, we invite early career academics working on these (but not limited to) possible topics: threats to sovereignty using contemporary examples; nationalism; state theory and state formation; historical development of the nation state in comparative perspective; changing conceptions of sovereignty; divided societies; the role of international organizations and entities (such as multinational corporations) and their impact on sovereignty; and more.

Application Process

  • Fill out the application form. This should be accompanied by a current CV and an abstract/research outline of the proposed paper you would bring to the winter school. The abstract should be no more than 500 words in length.
  • It should also be accompanied by a letter of recommendation, for which you will find the form on this website. Please send the letter of recommendation form to your referee, and have them send it to us directly.
  • The Academic Committee will accept research proposals 30 September 2020. Please send all relevant materials to:
  • The Academic Committee will notify all applicants about the status of their applications by email by October 30, 2020.
  • Successful applicants should submit complete drafts of papers, between 5,000 and 8,500 words in length, 45 days before the conference begins. Submitted drafts must follow the guidelines determined by the ACRPS.

Funding is available for travel and expenses on a competitive basis, and accommodation is provided for all participants. Given current circumstances this workshop may be moved online. We will keep applicants posted regarding developments.


The Doha-based Arab Center for Research and Policy Studies (ACRPS) held a talk on February 3 where Center General Director Azmi Bishara discussed “The Trump-Netanyahu Deal: A Historical Perspective of the US-Israeli plan to Liquidate the Palestinian Question.” Bishara began by going over the history of US peace initiatives after the June 1967 war, until the end of President Barack Obama’s term; starting with the Rogers Plan of 1970 and moving on to the Zbigniew Brzezinski project in 1977 and the Camp David Accords signed by Egyptian President Anwar Sadat and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin on September 17, 1978. He also went over the initiatives following the 1982 war in Lebanon such as the Reagan Initiative and those which followed the invasion of Kuwait in 1990 such as George H.W. Bush’s vision for peace based on Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338 and the principle of land for peace, which offered no proposals for a solution. Then he detailed George W. Bush’s 2002-03 Road Map for Peace and former Secretary of State John Kerry’s attempts to re-start the peace process under the Obama administration. He explained that the initiatives were generally accepted by Arabs and rejected by Israel, and that is contrary to the statements of some Arab regimes.

Bishara’s critique of the latest peace plan offered by Trump can be summarized as undermining the foundations of international law and upholding the discourse of power around the world, a major feature that has dominated Trump’s policies since his arrival in the White House. The vision is characterized by a colonial and patronizing tone, which Bishara demonstrated with quotes from the document.

The plan adopts the literal Israeli narrative of history, which means it uses the biblical version of events with the same effect as international law. The document also codifies Israeli claims of dispossession and concessions, with no mention of the Palestinian narrative, not even a reference to the Nakba or the suffering endured by the Palestinians due to the ongoing occupation. The suffering of the Palestinians is only mentioned as a consequence of the behavior and corruption of the Palestinian leadership, or Palestinian “terrorism.” In this sense, the document exonerates Israel from bearing any responsibility for Palestinian suffering and the text does not even use the term “occupation” to describe the Israeli occupation of Palestine.

Bishara also noted that the plan appropriates the language of real estate developers, talking about supporting investments to build hotels, restaurants, swimming pools, and tourist sites; additional funding to improve training in the field of hospitality; and financing advertising campaigns to stimulate tourism, as if Palestine were a piece of land to be granted to companies. He pointed out that this is similar to the American rhetoric about Native Americans in North America and the development of fenced “reservations” to which the word “independent” is affixed.

Bishara made the point that the initial steps in the Trump-Netanyahu deal have been those that have been already implemented on the ground, starting with Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and subsequently the transfer of the US embassy there, the decision to legitimize the settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories with the direct permission of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, the de-funding of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) on August 31, 2018, and the closure of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) office in Washington two weeks later. He also pointed out that the so-called “deal of the century” constitutes a clear break from the traditional US perspective that is already allied with Israel and fully adopts the position of the Israeli right.

Bishara mapped out the masterminds behind Trump’s peace plan: his son-in-law Jared Kushner, David Friedman, US ambassador to Israel since 2017 and Trump’s former bankruptcy lawyer, and Jason Greenblatt, former chief legal officer to Trump and his companies who was appointed as his assistant and Special Representative for International Negotiations. Greenblatt was later replaced by lawyer Avi Berkowitz, a personal friend to Jared Kushner and his former “coffee boy.”

Bishara also argued that the document carried a set of fallacies, the most important of which is the claim that Israel withdrew from at least 88 percent of the land it seized in 1967, which shows selectivity in how Arabs and Palestinians are discussed. When talking about 1967, suddenly the conversation talks about Arabs as if they were one unified party and leads the reader to believe that Israel has returned 88 percent of the land of Palestine. But it is actually talking about the Sinai, and the remaining 12 percent of the land includes the Golan, Gaza, and the West Bank. In addition, the document refers to Jews from Arab countries as refugees, but the truth, according to Bishara, is that Israel considered them “new arrivals” and the basis of building its state. The deal talks about how Israel lost money by absorbing Jewish refugees from Arab countries, and that Israel should be compensated for those losses.

Bishara describes more fallacies borne out by Trump’s plan, such as the claim that the Palestinian state will be able to use the ports of Haifa and Ashdod and portraying that as a concession, despite this being today’s status quo. Bishara argues that the Israeli interpretation of Security Council Resolution 242––which called for “withdrawal of Israeli armed forces from territories occupied in the recent conflict”––as meaning that Israel does not need to withdraw from all the lands occupied in previous conflicts.

Bishara believes that another goal of the plan is to get rid of the Palestinians inside the Green Line. Israel would withdraw from the uninhabited Negev regions on the Sinai border and cede control of the Triangle communities of Kafr Qara, Ar’ara, Baqa al-Gharbiyye, Umm al Fahm, Qalansawe, Tayibe, Kafr Qasim, Tira, Kafr Bara, and Jaljulia to the Palestinian entity. However, a truce in 1949 stipulated that they be given to Jordan, but Israel did not abide by that and kept them within the territories it occupied. This would constitute a transfer and ethnic cleansing in the name of “peace.” As for the refugees’ right of return, the document stresses that “Upon the signing of the Israeli-Palestinian Peace Agreement, Palestinian refugee status will cease to exist, and UNRWA will be terminated and its responsibilities transitioned to the relevant governments,” with no right of return for Palestinian refugees.

Bishara argued that the concept of the state espoused by the deal coincides with the vision of Benjamin Netanyahu expressed in his speech at Bar-Ilan University on June 14, 2009. Bishara also stated that the document deals with the concept of sovereignty in theory as a flexible, not an absolute concept, and that sovereignty is a stumbling block to peace in its justification of the idea of a state without sovereignty. This is a contradictory idea, considering that state means sovereignty. Bishara wondered why Palestinian sovereignty alone needs to be theorized and flexible. He also noted that the emerging state will be physically within the state of Israel and under its control, to the extent that Israel will interfere in the Palestinian internal security administration and will oversee international crossings and borders. Israel will even have sovereignty over space, drilling wells and water.

One of the effects of the Trump-Netanyahu deal, Bishara argued, is that it perpetuates the idea that Arabs only answer to coercion and only do what they are directly ordered to do. That is why, he believes, the Arab behavior after announcing the deal is a dangerous precedent, encouraging the Israelis to follow the same logic in the future if they so choose. He points out, however, that this logic does not mean that the Palestinian or Arab masses will remain silent. This is a form of colonialism and apartheid, and efforts to confront Zionism should focus on two pillars: the land (occupation, settlement, the Judaization of Jerusalem, etc.) and racism which makes the struggle one against the apartheid regime.

Bishara concluded his presentation by noting the urgent need to build up and rehabilitate the role of the PLO, provided that it adopts both a democratic national strategy that seeks to attract Arab and international solidarity movements and the option of resistance. On the other hand, this requires that the Palestinian Authority play its role in running the daily lives of the people in the occupied Palestinian territories and that leading the Palestinians and the strategy of struggle must be left to institutions and bodies not linked to agreements with Israel. This means that the PLO must withdraw from all the previous agreements it signed with Israel because they have become null and void and that the PA avoid making the mistake of conflating the Palestinian national project with a meaningless state and concentrate on liberation from the colonial and apartheid system.

A version of this report was first published on February 3, 2020 by the Arab Center for Research and Policy Studies in Doha, Qatar.

Call for Conference Papers

The Arab Center for Research and Policy Studies announces a call for papers for the second ACRPS Conference for Arab Graduate Students in Western Universities, to be held from March 28-30, 2020 in Doha, Qatar. Prospective participants have until 30 July 2019 to submit proposals. This second round will build on the success of the first Arab Graduate Conference held in spring 2018, which established an unprecedented academic tradition in the Arab region. Out of 250 applicants, 83 students were invited to participate in the first round, presenting research based on their PhD dissertation projects, and benefitting from evaluative comments and suggestions from a pool of 40 specialists in various social science and humanities disciplines.

The conference will provide Arab doctoral students in the social sciences and humanities based at Western universities an open space to present papers rooted in their graduate studies. This novel conference will give the participants the chance to benefit from discussions with their peers and with established Arab academics. By holding the meeting in an Arab country, the conference will give the participants an opportunity to better acquaint themselves with an Arab research agenda as well as to create collegial, professional networks within the Arab region. Participants will also gain the opportunity to have their work published in Arabic, through one of the ACRPS’ publication channels.

Eligible scholars interested in applying should undertake the following:

  • Fill out the application form. This should be accompanied by a current CV and an abstract/research outline of the proposed paper (no more than 500 words in length).
  • At least one reference. The referee should fill out this form and send it directly to
  • The Academic Committee will accept research proposals in either Arabic or English up until 30 July 2019. Please send all relevant materials to:
  • The Academic Committee will notify all applicants about the status of their applications by email by September 10, 2019.
  • Successful applicants should submit complete drafts of papers, between 5,000 and 8,500 words in length, 45 days before the conference begins. Submitted drafts must follow the guidelines determined by the ACRPS.

Please see the following documents for further information:

Background PaperApplication FormReference Form (to be sent to referee).

Augustus R NortonArab Center Washington DC (ACW) is deeply saddened by the news of the death of our Academic Advisory Board Member Professor Emeritus Augustus Richard Norton on February 20, 2019. He was a beloved colleague, professor, and renowned Middle East expert. He is survived by his wife Deanna and son Timothy.

Augustus Richard Norton (Ph.D., University of Chicago, 1984) was a professor of International Relations and Anthropology at the Pardee School of Global Studies at Boston University, as well as Director of the Institute for Iraqi Studies. He was also a Fellow at the Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. As a faculty member at Boston University, Norton’s research interests focused on strategies of reform in authoritarian regimes in the Middle East and renewal in reformist Muslim thought.
Norton’s books include Hezbollah: A Short History, the two-volume collection Civil Society in the Middle East, Amal and the Shi’a: Struggle for the Soul of Lebanon , The International Relations of the PLO (senior editor), Political Tides in the Arab World (co-author), UN Peacekeepers (co-author), and Security in the Middle East: New Perspectives (in Arabic). His articles have appeared in Current History, Foreign Policy, International Spectator, Journal of Palestine Studies, Middle East Journal, The Nation, and in leading newspapers.

Arab Center Washington DC is grateful for Professor Norton’s support and notable contributions to our work, and to the field of Middle East studies in general. He will be dearly missed by his colleagues at Arab Center Washington DC and his friends around the world.

Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, the current Emir of Qatar, visited the Arab Center Washington DC (ACW) on Friday, April 13, 2018. The visit came as the Emir concluded his one-week official visit to the United States during which His Highness met with President Donald Trump, Vice President Mike Pence, Secretary of Defense James Mattis, various cabinet members, congressional leaders from both parties, military commanders, and business executives. Accompanying him were Qatar’s Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister H.E. Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman bin Jassim Al Thani, the Emir’s brother H.E. Sheikh Mohammed bin Hamad Al Thani, Chief of Staff of the Emiri Diwan H.E. Sheikh Khalid bin Khalifa bin Abdulaziz Al Thani, and Qatar’s Ambassador to the United States H.E. Sheikh Mishaal bin Hamad Al Thani.

After welcoming remarks by ACW Executive Director Khalil E. Jahshan, Sheikh Tamim addressed members of the board of directors, research fellows and staff members by focusing on his meetings with administration and congressional officials. His Highness reported that his visit to the United States was successful and that his meetings with President Trump, administration officials, and political and civic leaders enhanced Qatari-American strategic relations.

His Highness praised the mission of Arab Center Washington to improve American understanding of the Arab world and particularly its emphasis on the themes of democracy, human rights, and just and lasting peace for conflicts in the region.

Statement by
H.E. Mr. Mahmoud Abbas
President of the State of Palestine
Before the United Nations Security Council
New York
20 February 2018

Excellency Sheikh Sabah Al-Khaled Al-Hamad Al-Sabah, President of the Security Council,

Excellency Mr. António Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations,

Excellencies Members of the Security Council,

Seventy years have passed since Palestine’s Nakba, from which 6 million Palestine refugees continue to suffer from the cruelty of exile and loss of human security. They continue to wander the world after the loss of their peaceful and stable lives in their homeland. They are part of the 13 million Palestinians, whose country has not yet been recognized as full Member State of the United Nations, despite the numerous resolutions reaffirming their right to self-determination and statehood on their national land.

We are the descendants of the Canaanites that lived in the land of Palestine 5,000 years ago and continuously remained there to this day. Our great people remain rooted in their land. The Palestinian people built their own cities and homeland and made contributions to humanity and civilization witnessed by the world. They established institutions, schools, hospitals, cultural organizations, theaters, libraries, newspapers, publishing houses, economic organizations, businesses and banks, with wide regional and international influence.

All of this existed before and after the Balfour Declaration issued by the British Government in 1917, a declaration by which those who did not own, giving to those who had no right. The British Government bears responsibility for the catastrophic consequences inflicted on the Palestinian people as a result.

Since then, and although our people remain under occupation, they continued their journey in building and developing their country with the establishment of their National Authority in 1994. Our national institutions are recognized by international organizations for their merit and work, which is based on the rule of law, accountability and transparency, and empowerment of women and youth in an environment of tolerance, coexistence of civilizations and nondiscrimination.

Moreover, we continue to strive to unite our people and land and to ensure one authority, one law, and one gun, and are determined to convene parliamentary and presidential elections.

Mr. President, Excellencies,

Our conviction is deep and our position is clear regarding the use of arms of any kind. We not only call for the dismantlement of nuclear weapons, but are also opposed to conventional weapons, which have caused such vast destruction of States in our region and around the world.

We have thus been committed to fostering a culture of peace, rejection of violence, pursuit of sustainable development and the building of schools, hospitals, industrial zones, agricultural farms and technological production, as opposed to establishing weapons factories and purchasing tanks and fighter jets, for we wish for our people to live in freedom and dignity, far from wars and destruction and far from terrorism and extremism, which are being relentlessly combated in all areas of the globe. Accordingly, we have become party to 83 security agreements with States around the world, including the United States, Russian Federation, European countries and others.

Why are we here today?

After a long journey and efforts to create a political path based on negotiations and leading to a comprehensive and just peace, as you are aware, we participated in the Madrid Conference in 1991 and signed the Oslo Accords in 1993, which affirmed the imperative of reaching a solution of all the permanent status issues before 1999. Unfortunately, this has not become reality.

Nevertheless, we persisted in our efforts to attain peace. We engaged in dialogue at Wye River and Camp David. We participated in the Annapolis Conference; we engaged in dialogue with the former Israeli Prime Minister Olmert, and met with Prime Minister Netanyahu in the presence of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and George Mitchell; and we accepted President Putin’s invitation to meet with Mr. Netanyahu in Moscow, but he has regrettably evaded participating in such a meeting. We engaged with all seriousness with former Secretary of State John Kerry. But the Israeli Government’s intransigence caused the failure of all of these efforts.

After all of this, how can it be said that it is we who reject negotiations?

Confronted with this deadlock, we have neither given up, nor have we lost hope. We have come to the United Nations, believing in the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations, which affirms, inter alia, the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by force and affirms the right of peoples to self-determination, which are among the issues this august Council will address tomorrow. We continue to engage with all of its agencies and bodies in our search for an end this occupation of our land and people. Yet, in spite of all of this, the international community has failed to implement the relevant UN resolutions, even to this day.

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Is it logical that, despite the adoption of 705 General Assembly resolutions and 86 Security Council resolutions in our favor, none of them have been implemented? Is it logical that Israel violates its obligation to implement resolutions 181 (II) and 194 (III), the implementation of which Israel’s admission to the UN was conditioned upon, as pledged in writing by its Foreign Minister Moshe Sharett at that time?

Israel is acting as a State above the law. It has transformed the occupation from a temporary situation as per international law into a situation of permanent settlement colonization and has imposed a one-State reality of Apartheid. It has closed all doors to realizing the two-State solution on the basis of the 1967 borders.

Here, we must reaffirm, as we have done in the past, our problem is not with the followers of Judaism. Judaism is a monotheistic religion as are Christianity and Islam. Our problem is only with the occupiers of our land and those denying our independence and freedom.

Mr. President, Excellencies Members of the Council,

We met with the President of the United States, Donald Trump, four times in 2017, and we have expressed our absolute readiness to reach a historic peace agreement. We repeatedly reaffirmed our position in accordance with international law, the relevant UN resolutions and the two-State solution on the basis of the 1967 borders. Yet this administration has not clarified its position. Is it for the two-State solution, or for one-State? And, then, in a dangerous, unprecedented manner, this administration undertook an unlawful decision, which was rejected by the international community, to remove the issue of Jerusalem “off the table” and to recognize the City as Israel’s capital and to transfer its embassy to the City. It did so ignoring that East Jerusalem is part of the Palestinian territory occupied since 1967 and is our capital, which we wish to be a City open to all faithful of the three monotheistic religions, Islam, Christianity and Judaism.

It is also strange that the United States still lists the Palestine Liberation Organization on its terror list and imposes restrictions on the work of our mission in Washington under the pretext of Congressional decisions since 1987. And, most recently, it has decided to punish the Palestine refugees by way of reduction of its contribution to UNRWA, in spite of the fact that it supported the Agency’s establishment and has endorsed the Arab Peace Initiative, which calls for a just and agreed solution for the plight of the refugees in accordance with resolution 194 (III).

The United States has contradicted itself and contradicted its own commitments and has violated international law and the relevant resolutions with its decision regarding Jerusalem. So, it has become impossible today for one country or State alone to solve a regional or international conflict without the participation of other international partners. Therefore, to solve the Palestine question, it is essential to establish a multi-lateral international mechanism emanating from an international conference and in line with international law and the relevant resolutions.

Mr. President, Excellencies,

Faced with Israel’s policies and practices in violation of international law and Israel’s noncompliance with and non-implementation of agreements signed, our Central Council, the highest Palestinian parliamentary body, decided several weeks ago to review the relationship with Israel, considering that we have become an Authority without authority and the occupation has become one without cost and that Israel must uphold its obligations as an occupying Power.

In spite of this, I confirm to you our commitment to maintain our institutions and achievements, which we have realized on the ground in Palestine as well as in the international arena. We are determined to remain committed to the political, diplomatic, legal path, far from violence, and through political negotiations and dialogue, which we have never rejected.

We will continue to extend our hands to make peace and will continue to exert efforts to bring an end to the Israeli occupation based on the two-State solution on the 1967 borders and international legitimacy as per the relevant resolutions in order to achieve our national aspirations.

At the same time, we will continue to oppose any attempts, regardless by whom, to impose solutions that contradict this legitimacy.

We have been granted the status of non-member Observer State by the General Assembly and, on that basis, we have become a State party to 105 international treaties and organizations. We have been recognized by 138 States. All of this has further strengthened the status of the State of Palestine, which continues to strive for recognition by the rest of the States in the world, among them Member States of the Council that have not yet recognized the State of Palestine, even while knowing that recognition of the State of Palestine is not a substitute for negotiations, but rather would enhance the prospects for success of negotiations.

In the coming period, we will intensify our efforts to achieve admission to full membership in the United Nations and to guarantee international protection for our people. We hope for your support for these efforts aimed at ensuring the rights of 13 million Palestinians, who yearn for an independent homeland just like all other peoples of the world and yearn for their State to take its rightful place in the international community.

Mr. President, Excellencies,

We come here before your august Council in the midst of the deadlock of the peace process due to the US decision regarding Jerusalem, Israel’s ongoing illegal settlement activities, its violation of the resolutions of this Council, and its disrespect of the signed agreements. We are here because of the Palestinian side’s desire to continue working positively and courageously in building a culture of peace, rejecting violence, saving the principle of two-States, and attaining security and stability for all, to restore hope to our people and the peoples of the region, and to find a way out of the stalemate and crisis we are in.

Driven by our conviction in a just, lasting and comprehensive peace, which is our strategic choice for the sake of the coming generations in our region, including the Palestinians and Israelis, I present to this august Council a peace plan that addresses the core problems that have undermined peace efforts across the decades. Our plan includes the following:

First: We call for the convening of an international peace conference by mid-2018, based on international law and the relevant UN resolutions, with broad international participation and including the two concerned parties and the regional and international stakeholders, foremost among them the Permanent Members of the Security Council and the international Quartet, as was the framework for the Paris Peace Conference and as envisaged for the conference to be convened in Moscow as per resolution 1850 (2008). The outcomes of this conference should be as follows:

  1. Acceptance of the State of Palestine as a full member of the United Nations and a call on the Security Council to achieve that, taking into account General Assembly resolution 67/19 of 29 November 2012, and guaranteeing international protection for our people.
  2. Mutual recognition between the State of Palestine and the State of Israel on the basis of the 1967 borders.
  3. Formation of an international multilateral mechanism that will assist the two parties in the negotiations to resolve the permanent status issues defined in the Oslo Accords (Jerusalem, borders, security, settlements, refugees, water and prisoners), conduct those negotiations on the basis of international law and the relevant UN resolutions, and implement what is to be agreed upon within a set timeframe and with guarantees for this implementation.

Second: During the period of negotiations, all parties must refrain from unilateral actions, particularly those that would prejudge the outcome of a final solution, as set forth in Article 31 of the Oslo Accords of 1993. Foremost must be the cessation of settlement activities in the territory occupied since 1967, including East Jerusalem, and suspension of the decision regarding Jerusalem and halting transfer of the US embassy to Jerusalem, in compliance with the relevant Security Council resolutions, including in particular resolutions 476 (1980), 478 (1980), 2334 (2016), and General Assembly resolution ES-10/19. At the same time, the State of Palestine would refrain from further joining organizations, as we have previously committed ourselves to. (Namely 22 international organizations out of 500 organizations and treaties.)

Third: Implementation of the Arab Peace Initiative, as adopted and endorsed, and the conclusion of a regional agreement upon achievement of a peace agreement between the Palestinians and Israelis. In this regard, we must reaffirm the terms of reference for any upcoming negotiations and they are as follows:

  1. Respect for international law and the relevant resolutions, including Security Council resolutions 242 (1967), 338 (1973) through to resolution 2334 (2016), and the Arab Peace Initiative, and the signed agreements.
  2. Preservation of the principle of the two-States, i.e. the State of Palestine, with East Jerusalem as its capital, living side by side with the State of Israel in peace and security on the basis of the 4 June 1967 borders, and rejection of partial solutions and a State of provisional borders.
  3. Acceptance of minimal land swaps, in equal value and ratio, with the agreement between the two parties.
  4. East Jerusalem as the capital of the State of Palestine and an open city for the faithful of the three monotheistic religions.
  5. Ensuring the security of the two States without undermining the independence and sovereignty of either of them through the existence of an international third party.
  6. A just and agreed solution for the Palestine refugees on the basis of resolution 194 (III) and in accordance with the Arab Peace Initiative and, pending a just solution, continuation of the international commitment and support to UNRWA.

Mr. President, Excellencies,

We are ready to undertake the longest journeys to the farthest places in the world in order to realize our rights. But we are not ready to move one inch if anyone wants us to forsake these rights.

We will present any agreement reached with Israel to a general referendum among our people, respecting democracy and reinforcing legitimacy.

We have knocked on your door today, you who comprise the highest international body entrusted with the maintenance of international peace and security. We have presented our vision for peace. Hopefully it will be received with wisdom and justice. We are ready to begin negotiations immediately in order to achieve the freedom and independence of our people, just like all other nations, and to achieve peace and security for all in our region and the world, so that future generations can enjoy the benefits of this peace, following the enormous sacrifices by our people of that dearest to them, among them our martyrs, wounded and prisoners.

This Security Council is the highest entity to which the peoples of the world seek sanctuary and protection; after this Council, we rest our issue to the Almighty. For, if justice for our people cannot be attained here, then to where should we go?

I thank you, Mr. President.

From Wafa, Palestinian News & Info Agency,