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  • Author: Abbas Shiblak
  • Publication Date: 02-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Chatham House
  • Abstract: The quest of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes is not only a legal and moral right but has become a major part of Palestinian identity and symbolizes Palestinian historical narratives. It has been an effective instrument of mobilization that became the political priority of various resistance groups which later formed the Palestine Liberation Organization. The PLO embarked on a line of negotiation which sought to reconcile rightist and realist approaches. They sought acknowledgment by Israel of its responsibility for the refugee issue and acceptance in principle of their right of return while showing flexibility and readiness to discuss various formulations of return. At the core of the inter-Palestinian debate is the dynamic between the two objectives of achieving statehood and the resolution of the refugee issue. State-building came to be seen not only as a means of reconstructing Palestinian identity but also as a catalyst to resolution of the refugee issue. A peace agreement should widen the options for the refugees and address all aspects of the refugee issue including the rights of repatriation to Israel, return to a Palestinian state, compensation, and equality and full citizenship rights in countries where refugees choose to remain. A comprehensive peace agreement must include the regional aspects of the refugee issue and all regional actors. There is an urgent need to review the current format of negotiations and bring about more balanced and effective international political engagement in the bilateral Israeli-Palestinian negotiations.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Security, Political Violence, Political Economy, Post Colonialism, Poverty, Terrorism, Treaties and Agreements
  • Political Geography: Israel, Palestine, Arab Countries
  • Author: Kerry Brown
  • Publication Date: 03-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Chatham House
  • Abstract: Over the last two decades, as Mainland China has been developing and liberalizing its economy, Taiwan has been undergoing an equally remarkable but very different political transformation, from martial law in 1987 to its current status as one of the most vibrant, stable democracies in Asia. Despite its eventful experience of the democratization process, the parliamentary and presidential elections in 2008 proved that Taiwan is now a mature, and stable, democracy. It has passed the ultimate test, seeing the successful transition of rule from one party to another and back again, without social turmoil. Economic performance over the same period has been less striking. Once among the fastestgrowing economies, Taiwan is now afflicted by a relatively low growth rate, and problems over the outflow of capital and investment to the Mainland. The potential for conflict over cross-straits relations remains but it has been significantly reduced under President Ma and by the Mainland Chinese government's greater accommodation with a democratic Taiwan in the last decade. The risk of a military conflict between the two sides, which could drag in the US, and therefore the rest of the world, cannot be entirely discounted, however. Taiwan's greatest challenges in the next decade remain the same as in the last – to maintain its identity, to develop its democratic system, and to handle relations with the Mainland in a way that preserves its interests while avoiding conflict. Taiwan's system, which has so far proved itself robust and effective, faces a new challenge too: how to benefit from the increase in Mainland investment abroad.
  • Topic: Democratization, Economics, Markets
  • Political Geography: United States, China, Israel, Taiwan, Asia
  • Author: Rex Brynen
  • Publication Date: 06-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Chatham House
  • Abstract: The question of Palestinian refugees has long been one of the most difficult issues in dispute in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. With the onset of renewed peace talks following the Annapolis summit of November 2007, it is once again an issue that the Israeli and Palestinian negotiators must address. The two sides are in a worse position to resolve the issue than they were during the last rounds of permanent status negotiations in 2000–01. The political weakness of the Israeli and Palestinian governments is compounded by heightened mistrust between the two societies, as well as by a hardening of Israeli public attitudes against even the symbolic return of any refugees to Israeli territory. There is now a substantial accumulated body of work on the Palestinian refugee issue to guide and inform negotiators and policy-makers. This includes past official negotiations among the key parties, wider discussions among regional states and the international donor community, unofficial and Track II initiatives and a considerable body of technical analysis.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, International Law, Migration
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine
  • Author: Orit Gal
  • Publication Date: 06-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Chatham House
  • Abstract: At the beginning of the Oslo Process the greatest challenge was the question of Palestinian statehood; negotiation of the refugee issue was postponed until the later stages. Over a decade later, Palestinian statehood is generally accepted as a given, and the refugee issue has taken centre stage. The Israeli perspective, from a leadership standpoint, is seemingly characterized by a sense of being overwhelmed, owing to the complexity of elements making up the refugee issue, the multiplicity of actors involved, and a heightened sense of uncertainty as to the consequences of any negotiated settlement. More strategic work is needed at the political and policy-making level to determine the resolution level required for the agreement itself. Much of the detail involved will have to be developed outside the main negotiation framework. More research and strategy development work is needed concerning the Israeli public domain, to assess existing attitudes and possible avenues for widening the public discourse. To this end, the Israeli media should also be encouraged to present the different debates and elements of the issue. There is a need for an international task force of leading experts working alongside the negotiation process and translating both sides' strategic options into operational frameworks. Such support could ease the load on the actual negotiating parties, thereby facilitating the decision-making process.
  • Topic: International Cooperation, Migration
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine
  • Author: Benito Müller
  • Publication Date: 05-2001
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Chatham House
  • Abstract: In direct reaction to President Bush's speedy reneging on a campaign pledge to set 'mandatory reduction targets' for carbon dioxide emissions from power generation (a mere 53 days into his presidency), Rainer Hinrichs-Rahlwes, Director General of the German Environment Ministry, admitted that 'maybe it will be necessary to ratify the Protocol without the US and to instead pave the way for them to join later'. Since then, this sentiment has been rapidly gaining ground internationally, in particular after President Bush unilaterally declared the failure of the Kyoto Protocol. Indeed, at a meeting in Kiruna (Sweden) on 31 March 2001, EU environment ministers pledged to pursue ratification of the treaty with or without the United States. Environment minister Kjell Larsson, for the Swedish Presidency, stated that 'the Kyoto Protocol is alive, contrary to what has been said from the other side of the Atlantic. No individual country has the right to declare a multilateral agreement dead.'
  • Topic: Environment, International Law, Science and Technology
  • Political Geography: Russia, Japan, Israel
  • Author: Christopher P. Hood
  • Publication Date: 11-1999
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Chatham House
  • Abstract: Ishihara Shintaro, known for his strong views particularly on Japan's relationship with the United States, became Governor of Tokyo on 11 April 1999. This paper considers the significance of his election, and whether it symbolizes a rise in nationalism in Japan.
  • Topic: International Relations, Nationalism, Politics
  • Political Geography: United States, Japan, Israel, Tokyo
  • Author: Joel Peters, Becky Kook
  • Publication Date: 08-1999
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Chatham House
  • Abstract: On 17 May 1999 Ehud Barak secured a stunning victory in the Israeli elections, defeating incumbent Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu with a majority of almost 400,000 and gaining slightly over 56 per cent of all the votes cast. While polls in the days immediately prior to the election had signalled Netanyahu\'s defeat, no one had anticipated such a landslide victory. After three turbulent years of Likud government, Barak\'s election slogan \'Israel wants a change\' clearly captured Israeli public disillusion with Netanyahu, who lost the trust and support of voters throughout the country.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Government, Peace Studies, Politics
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel