In Partnership with the Open Society Foundation
The Centre for Development Studies at Birzeit University has launched a broad-based research programme into citizenship rights and alternative models for state-formation in Palestine/Israel. This is particularly important in light of almost 20 years of the Oslo peace process, in which the occupied Palestinian territory has become even more fragmented and divided up into isolated enclaves, and deprived of territorial contiguity. Although a Palestinian state has received international endorsement, the presence of over 500,000 Israeli Jewish settlers in the West Bank, and the institutionalization of Israeli checkpoints and permits entrenched a system of segregation that deprives Palestinians of their national and citizen rights, sanctioned under international law. The paralysis in the final status negotiations between Palestinians and Israelis, have further rendered the prospects for a two state solution in Israel/Palestine difficult, if not impossible. There is a pressing need to explore alternative forms of sovereignty that can bring peace and security in the region, whether in the form of regional integration, federalism, a single territory with two systems of sovereignty or parallel state structures, bi-nationalism, or a single democratic state.
In light of these realities, and in the interest of advancing a just and lasting solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, this research will investigate how alternative models for statehood can provide an inclusive framework which upholds citizenship rights for all, reconciles individual and collective rights, and moves us towards a society that provides justice, equality and human security for all citizens. This research is all the more important given the transformations ushered in by the Arab Spring. The Arab Spring expresses citizens’ aspirations for social justice and making their state accountable to its promise of democracy, inclusivity and transparency.