To Specialists in Middle East Studies and Experts on the economy and geography of peace-making and statebuilding:
We invite you to a special forum:
The Economics of Peace in Palestine: A HSRC Seminar – 24 June 2008
During the week of 23-27 June, the HSRC will host FOUR SCHOLARS from BIRZEIT UNIVERSITY (West Bank) who will present the latest data on the Palestinian economy and consult with South African experts about what the data signifies for international politics and diplomacy. On 24 June (Tuesday) they will present their data in a public forum at HSRC and open the floor for its debate.
This forum is highly relevant to understanding the Middle East conflict and assessing South Africa’s foreign policy in the Middle East. South Africa’s commitment to the general Oslo/Road Map programme has arguably remained appropriate in the absence of any other viable diplomatic position and in light of South Africa’s relations with Israel, the Palestinian Authority, and the United States. However, South Africa took a more controversial political decision to participate in the US-sponsored Annapolis peace conference (October 2007) and to endorse the subsequent Paris Donors Conference (December 2007) by supporting the so-called ‘Fayyad Plan’ of the Palestinian Authority for economic development in the West Bank.
To some, this participation appeared necessary to secure South Africa’s role as a ‘player’ in the diplomatic terrain. To others, it risks diminishing South Africa’s international collateral in the conflict if the Fayyad Plan proves ill-conceived. Beyond South Africa, some consider the Plan to be the only option, yet others consider that the Plan itself may be contributing to an atmosphere of growing crisis.
Six months after the Paris meeting, the international community, including South Africa, faces the need to re-assess progress on the Fayyad Plan as well as the assumptions and expectations it represented. To be realistic, this assessment must also consider afresh the evolving socio-economic and political conditions in the occupied Palestinian territories in which the Plan is now operating.
The experts include:
1. Dr Yousef Nasser, the most senior economist at Birzeit University, formerly Chair of Economics and now Mayor of Birzeit Municipality 2. Dr Leila Farsakh, an extensively published political economist and Associate Professor of Political Science (also at University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth) 3. Ms Samia Al-Botmeh, Director of the Centre for Development Studies 4. Dr Nizar Hashem Farsak of the Adam Smith International Negotiations Support Unit, Ramallah, will join these scholars with the latest information and analysis on the question of borders.
The discussion will cover
(1) the status of the Palestinian economy since 2000 until today (poverty, unemployment, fiscal situation, and differences between West Bank and Gaza);
(2) division and fragmentation ( Palestinian territorial realities today and facts on the ground);
(3) the structure of the Palestinian economy and determinants of its success (or failure), including the role of the Palestinian Authority and the private sector, its relation to Israel (trade agreements and relations, restrictions on mobility, labour migration—its importance and limits) and associated implications for Palestinian independence or lack thereof, and the role of the international community (bailer of the occupation or providers for Palestinian independence?);
(4) how Israeli economic policies suggest Israel’s economic, political, and security interests, strategies and goals;
(5) implications of these findings for politics and international diplomacy.
[NOTE: A secular institution founded in the 1970s, Birzeit University is the West Bank’s leading university, with an international faculty well-known for independent research and publications in their fields.]
DATE: 24 June 2008 Tuesday TIME: 9:30 for 10:00 til 12:30 VENUE: PRETORIA — Video-Conference Room, HSRC Building, 134 Pretorius Street, Mezzanine (from Ground Floor – Library) CAPE TOWN — Video-Conference Room, HSRC Building, Plein Park Building, 69-83 Plein Street, 14th Floor DURBAN – Video-Conference Room, HSRC, 750 Francois Road, Intuthuku Junction, Cato Manor
PARKING is available. For more information, please contact the HSRC Middle East Project at 021-466-7872 or 012-302-2818.
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