2 April 2019
This issue of The Middle East in London highlights the ongoing importance of Palestine to events in the region. Our contributors remind us of the myriad forms of Palestinian resistance and the tenacity of a population living under occupation and over six decades of displacement.
We begin with two pieces that survey recent shift s in US policy towards Palestine: in Insight Karma Nabulsi examines the contours of the so-called ‘Deal of the Century’, a plan that has not yet been publically revealed but which the US President Donald Trump claims will definitively ‘solve’ the Palestine conflict; Anne Irfan analyses US cuts to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA), highlighting how such a move has increased pressure on Palestinians, refugee communities and other Arab countries to accept the ‘Deal’.
Alongside these moves by the Trump administration, there has been much media speculation around the upcoming Israeli elections. Nimer Sultany explores one dimension that is often absent in coverage of these elections, the role of political parties representing Palestinian citizens of Israel, through the emergence and recent collapse of the ‘Joint List’ – a united platform of the main Palestinian factions in Israel, which had been the third largest bloc in the Israeli Knesset since the 2015 elections.
From Palestinian citizens and Israeli elections, our next two articles turn to the education sector in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Mezna Qato situates Palestine in the recent global wave of teacher and student mobilisations, exploring the unprecedented series of strikes by Palestinian teachers that occurred across the West Bank and Gaza Strip in early 2016. In the university sector, Omar Shweiki, the current director of Friends of Birzeit University (Fobzu), discusses the founding of Fobzu on the occasion of its 40th anniversary, tracing its work in building solidarity with Palestinian universities under occupation.
Reflecting on his recent trip to the West Bank as part of a visit organised by the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions, Mike Scott-Baumann discusses the reality of Palestinian farmers in the Jordan Valley and other areas of the West Bank’s Area C. Turning then to Gaza, Atef Alshaer writes about his recent trip there (his first time home in 19 years). His powerful reflections capture the ordinary lives of Palestinians in the Strip, their attempts to navigate the daily challenges of siege and closure and their remarkable resilience.
The next article by ethnographer and photographer Manal Massalha discusses the goals of her project ‘Housing, Rubbish, Walls and Failing Infrastructure in East Jerusalem’ and documents the urban neglect faced by Palestinian Jerusalemites, particularly following Israel’s construction of the Wall that began in 2002.
The concluding article by Nora Parr discusses recent Palestinian novels, arguing that this writing has often been rendered invisible by a focus on the traditional Palestinian writing of the 1960s and 1970s and that its significance lies in its search for new alternatives in the wake of the collapse of past certainties around politics and resistance.