Dec13palestinianrefugeeChatham House has now released the report of its December 2013 workshop on compensation for Palestinian refugees:

This is a summary of discussions that took place during a one-and-a-half day workshop on The Palestinian Refugee Issue: Compensation and Implementation Mechanisms, held on 18 and 19 December 2013 in Minster Lovell, Oxfordshire. The participants were experts on the Palestinian refugee issue, acting in a personal capacity, from the Palestinian territories, Israel, the international community and host countries. Participants were divided into working groups and asked to design specific mechanisms for Palestinian refugee compensation of the type that might be included in a future Israeli–Palestinian peace agreement. These were then collectively ‘stress-tested’ by the larger group in order to identify particular challenges that might arise.

The workshop formed part of Chatham House’s on-going work on the regional dimensions of the Palestinian refugee issue, known as the ‘Minster Lovell Process’, which aims at an informal and comprehensive discussion of the Palestinian refugee issue, including the role of host countries and international actors. This workshop built on previous work about an implementation mechanism undertaken by Chatham House and the International Development Research Centre (IDRC) in collaboration with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the European Commission in 2009–10.

You can access the report here, or by clicking the image on the right. My own account of the workshop can be found here.

Normative dimensions of the Palestinian refugee issue

Posted: February 19, 2014 by Rex Brynen in conferences

I recently returned from another in the long-standing “Minster Lovell” series of conferences organized by Chatham House (UK). This time the focus was on the normative dimensions of the Palestinian refugee issue, with the meeting including Palestinian, Israeli, and international experts.

This is a difficult topic, for several reasons. First, the issue touches upon core aspects of Palestinian and Israeli narratives—narratives that often don’t agree. Given the suffering involved by all those who have been displaced, dispossessed, and exiled by the conflict, it can strike a deep emotional cord. In contrast to the previous session at Minster Lovell (which focused on the technical aspects of refugee compensation) the topic is one that largely intangible and hence difficult to precisely categorize or define.

Minster Lovell itself was rather soggy, since the meeting took place amid heavy rainstorms that flooded parts of southern and central England. However, accommodation and arrangements at the Old Swan and Minster Mill were excellent as ever.


The first (half) day of the meeting started with a general discussion of why the normative dimensions of the refugee issue mattered. We then moved on to an examination of Palestinian and Israeli perspectives on the topic. Overall, I would say that five major dimensions of the issue emerged from this:

  1. Recognition/responsibility/apology. Is it enough for Israel to simply acknowledge the suffering of the Palestinian refugees, or is more needed—a statement of regret, or perhaps acceptance of responsibility for their expulsion in 1948? To what extent can initiatives such as commemoration, memorialization, historical commissions, or even a truth and reconciliation commission help to address some of these needs?
  2. The normative dimensions of the right of return. Refugee return is, of course, also a “tangible” question of whether Palestinian refugees and their descendants might be able to return to their ancestral homes with Israel. However, it also has normative dimensions, in that Palestinians view this as an internationally-acknowledged moral and legal right that also requires recognition, even if the actual number of refugees returning might be limited, or even largely symbolic.
  3. Compensation as a moral element. Any compensation paid to Palestinian refugees would be at least partial reparation for their dispossession. I am doubtful, however (especially after the last workshop) that it could fully addresses the losses and suffering they have experienced. To what extent can compensation perform a symbolic and moral function too?
  4. Addressing the forced displacement of Jews from Arab countries. In addition to the hundreds of thousand of Palestinians that were forcibly displaced during the establishment of the state of Israel, many Jews also fled from discriminatory treatment in Arab countries. How might the situation of Jewish refugees be addressed in an agreement with regard to such normative dimensions as moral acknowledgement?
  5. End of claims, moral closure. Can an agreement not only bring to an end claims made against one party by the other, but also bring about a sort of moral closure to the decades of dispossession, violence, and conflict?

PriorNegotiationsI presented a review of how normative issues had been dealt with in prior Israeli-Palestinian negotiations , as well as selected unofficial “track two” initiatives:

  • Beilin-Abu Mazen agreement (track II/1995)
  • Core Group working paper (track II/1999)
  • Camp David negotiations (official/2000)
  • Clinton Parameters (official/2000)
  • Taba negotiations (official/2001)
  • Geneva Initiative (track II/2003)
  • Annapolis negotiations (official/2007-08)

In general, in official talks Palestinian side has sought a clear expression of Israeli responsibility for the forced displacement of Palestinian refugees, while Israeli has been unwilling to go beyond an acknowledgement of the refugees’ suffering.  A copy of my presentation can be found here. Much of this discussion also drew on an excellent chapter by Mike Molloy and John Bell on “Intangible Needs, Moral Acknowledgement, and the Palestinian Refugee Issue” in  The Palestinian Refugee Problem: The Search for a Resolution (coedited by myself and Roula el-Rifai).

For the second (full) day of the workshop, participants were divided into three working groups, and challenged to develop appropriate language, formulations, linkages, and sequencing that might be used to address these issues in the context of current or future peace negotiations. In contrast to the usual “seminar” format of such discussions (which tend to produce a thoughtful but rather indeterminate output) or “second track” meetings (where the emphasis is often on producing an agreed text), the emphasis here was on brainstorming as many new ideas as possible. While participants certainly expressed their views on the political feasibility of the ideas put forward, the working group moderators made it clear that all ideas were welcome. After all, you never know when interesting synergies might emerge between several different proposals.

To make things interesting, the composition of the working groups was randomly shuffled every 90 minutes or so by drawing names from what the Harry Potter fans among us dubbed the “sorting hat.” I was certainly impressed with the energy and insight that participants devoted to the process.

Ina  final session, the working group moderators and the rest of the participants offered some reflections on the discussions. In my own view, several points stood out.

It was generally agreed that the normative dimensions of the refugee issue are centrally important. Achieving political and moral closure for the issue is more than simply a case of shifting people (repatriation, return, resettlement) and money (reparations/compensation). However, there was less agreement on whether it is necessary to address this now, or whether it is better to postpone the issue until issues of borders and Palestinian statehood have been agreed by the parties. In the former case, it was argued that postponing the issue would only fuel the alienation and anger of refugees. In the latter case, it was suggested that progress on territorial issues might create a better atmosphere for addressing difficult normative issues in future. I admit to still being undecided on the question.

The point was made by several participants that Israeli recognition of its historic role in creating refugee issue should not be seen as concession. Rather, it was better understood (when and if such recognition ever happened) as the self-confident act of a modern state that has come to terms with past abuses. After all, it has become increasingly common for democratic countries such as Australia, Canada, the UK, or US to acknowledge past wrongs—not as a sign of weakness, but in rather as an act of political maturity.

There was considerable discussion of how language, acknowledgement, symbolic acts, and truth and reconciliation initiatives might help promote moral closure, justice, and reconciliation. It was recognized, however, that it can be difficult to assure that such measures have the intended effects. There was also considerable debate as to how willing the Israeli public might be to acknowledge some responsibility for the refugee issue.

The question of recognition of the Jewish character of Israel emerged as a surprisingly important theme in what was, after all, a workshop devoted to the Palestinian refugee issue. Some Israeli participants suggested that this was necessary to offset any symbolic or practical Israeli recognition of a Palestinian right of return; others argued that the issue had simply assumed too much political salience in Israel to now be forgotten; still others cited Palestinian reluctance to acknowledge deep Jewish ties to the region as a reason for wanting such recognition. It was also argued that such recognition might facilitate Israeli recognition of Palestinian moral claims.

A large majority of participants were  uncomfortable with recognition of Israel as a “Jewish state.” Palestinians asserted that this could be seen as justifying ethnic cleansing in 1948 or legitimizing the treatment of Palestinians in Israel as second class citizens. Many Israelis were uncomfortable with the implications of the formulation for Israeli democracy. It was also widely felt that such terminology, if put forward by the US in its own bridging position, could prove a major stumbling block to progress. Conversely, there was much wider acceptance of recognizing Israel as “homeland of the Jewish people” or other similar formulations.

There was very broad agreement that Jews were displaced from some Arab countries, and were deserving of both recognition and remedy. Many felt this issue had no place in a bilateral Israeli-Palestinian agreement, however, but instead was more properly an issue that should be raised with the states concerned. Others felt that, even though the issue might have been originally raised by the Israeli government largely as a bargaining chip, it was now at the point where it had to be addressed for Israeli domestic political reasons.

In the end, lots of ideas were generated, far too many to be listed here. These will be summarized in a forthcoming Chatham House report on the meeting, which should be available in the coming weeks. When it that report is released it will also  be announced here at the PRRN blog.

Unmasking the REAL Filippo Grandi

Posted: February 12, 2014 by Rex Brynen in conspiracies, UNRWA

There may be a reason why Ban Ki-moon looks so afraid…

Filippo Grandi, the outgoing Commissioner-General of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, is now making his farewell tour as his term of office comes to an end. Not surprisingly, those who have worked with him over the years are praising him as a dedicated humanitarian who has steered the Agency through increasingly perilous times: chronic budget short-falls; strikes and labour unrest; the devastating social and economic effects of Israeli and Egyptian restrictions on Gaza; continued Israeli occupation of the West Bank; the adverse circumstances and marginalization of Palestinian refugees in Lebanon;  the tragic devastation of a bloody civil war in Syria; and—last, but certainly not least—the failures of the “peace process” and thus the lack of a just resolution of the Palestinian refugee issue. Commentators will no doubt praise his dedication and leadership. They most likely will note that he always saw himself as serving the Palestinian refugee community on behalf of the international community, rather than simply doing a job. Some may comment on his willingness to hear new ideas, and to listen to competing views with empathy and open-mindedness. A few may even praise his sense of humour, which rarely seemed to desert him despite the many challenges he has faced.

We at Palestinian Refugee ResearchNet feel, however, that there is a need to set the record straight—for while Filippo Grandi may have impressed many as an energetic and selfless humanitarian, we see a much more nefarious picture.  We therefore present The Grandi Files.


Dark Conspiracies

PRRN has been in the vanguard of those uncovering UNRWA’s involvement in many dark conspiracies as part of Filippo Grandi’s cunning plans to achieve world domination. It was us, for example, that first unmasked UNRWA as a cover acronym for Underhanded Nogooders for Really Wicked Activities.

Double Identity

UNRWA Commissioner-General Filippo Grandi and Dr Evil: Twins separated at birth?

UNRWA Commissioner-General Filippo Grandi and Dr Evil: Twins separated at birth?

As previously suggested on this blog, there is every reason to believe that Filippo Grandi and Dr. Evil are closely related—twins, clones, or perhaps even the same person. The physical resemblance is striking.

Blocking Peace

While many might think that the failures of the peace process are attributable to a hardline Israeli government, internal Palestinian divisions, poor leadership from the US and international community, and the inherent difficulty and complexity of the issues at stake, dedicated investigative journalism has proven that UNRWA itself is the one that has single-handedly blocked progress to peace. Who knew a UN Agency consisting largely of teachers, doctors, and nurses had such power!

Resettling Hamas Terrorists in the US

According to certain right-wing American blogs, UNRWA is in league with Barack “Hussein” Obama to settle Hamas terrorists in the United States, in the guise of refugees. That just has to be true, right?

Kidnapping RWA

We believe Filippo Grandi to have been personally responsible for the temporary abduction of “Relief and Works Agency” (or “RWA” to his friends) from the UNRWA logo. As the head of one popular committee for Palestinian refugees based in Gaza noted, “The change of UNRWA’s title is considered a very dangerous indication that could be explained due to the presence of a plan against Palestinian refugees especially after the latest statements by Netanyahu in which he offered to settle the Palestinian refugees outside of Palestine, something that provoked Palestinian refugees in and outside the occupied territories.”

Rumours circulated at the time that RWA was held hostage in darkened basement, until donors came up with additional funds to cover the Agency’s 2011 budget shortfall. When RWA was later released safe and unharmed, Hamas issued a formal statement condemning it all as an attempt to mislead public opinion.

Taking Bags of Cash from Suspicious People in Murky Oxford Hallways


“Pirate swag” indeed.

PRRN paparazzi snapped this picture of the outgoing Commissioner-General accepting a paper bag (suspiciously labelled “pirate swag”) in that well-known miscreant hide-out known as the “Refugee Studies Centre,” part of a larger criminal cartel spoken of only as “Oxford University.” What possible legitimate explanation for this could there be? Clearly Grandi’s claim that some Canadian professor had raised UNRWA and UNHCR donations in class by dressing as a pirate are far too outlandish to be true.

Children Playing, Women Running, and Other Examples of Moral Turpitude

Under Grandi’s leadership, UNRWA has been in the forefront of those promoting the moral decline of human civilization. The Agency has, for example, organized summer camps for Gaza children, so that they might—and this is almost too horrible to contemplate—play and have fun, despite the many difficulties of life in Gaza. Quite rightly, some militant Islamists  condemned this. UNRWA has organized marathons in which some women—shock, horror—were permitted to compete (thank goodness Hamas put an end to that dubious exercise).

The Agency has also pushed forward with introducing a human rights curriculum, no doubt as part of an evil effort to create an army of free-thinking Palestinian youth with an expanded knowledge of human rights in the modern world.

Cult of Personality


The “Supreme Chef” at work, cooking up another dastardly plot.

Not content with being head of one of the UN’s largest humanitarian agencies, Grandi’s mad lust for power led him to promote a bizarre cult of personality in which he would be known as the “Supreme Chef.” Only quick action by his staff apparently stopped the distribution of official UNRWA aprons bearing the likeness of a smiling “Supreme Chef” to all Agency personnel!

* * *

And so, as the Commissioner-General leaves UNRWA—doubtless to engage in other “worthwhile” activities somewhere else in the world—we at PRRN have a stark warning: Don’t be taken in by his good nature, hard work, or commitment to human rights and humanitarianism. This man is dangerous… and we’ll be watching.

Palestinians Refugees in Syria BannerRegistration information here.



Palestinian Refugees and the Response to Violence

Maria Holt 

Women in conflict zones face a wide range of violence: from physical and psychological trauma to political, economic and social disadvantage. And the sources of the violence are varied also: from the ‘public’ violence of the enemy to the more ‘private’ violence of the family. Maria Holt uses her research gathered in the Palestinian refugee camps of Lebanon and in the West Bank to look at the forms of violence suffered by women in the context of the wider conflict around them. Drawing on first-hand accounts of women who have either participated in, been victims of or bystanders to violence, Women and Conflict in the Middle East highlights the complex situation of these refugees, and explores how many of them become involved in resistance activities. It thus makes essential reading for students of the Israel-Palestine conflict as well as those interested in the gender dimension of conflict.

Maria Holt is Senior Lecturer in the Democracy and Islam Programme, part of the Department of Politics and International Relations, University of Westminster. She is the co-author of Without Glory in Arabia: The British Retreat from Aden (I.B.Tauris).

For a 30% discount on the book until 30 May 2014, download the flyer here.

UNRWA-logoUNRWA is a United Nations agency established by the General Assembly in 1949 and is mandated to provide assistance and protection to a population of some 5 million registered Palestine refugees. Its mission is to help Palestine refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, West Bank and the Gaza Strip to achieve their full potential in human development, pending a just solution to their plight. UNRWA’s services encompass education, health care, relief and social services, camp infrastructure and improvement, microfinance and emergency assistance. UNRWA is the largest UN operation in the Middle East with more than 30,000 staff. UNRWA is funded almost entirely by voluntary contributions.


Human Development Researcher (Consultant)


UNRWA is currently developing a Medium Term Strategy for the period 2016–2021. As part of this process, the Agency will conduct a study on the human development needs of Palestine refugees in its five fields of operations. The study will identify gaps in the human development fabric that should be addressed – whether by UNRWA or by other actors – in order to make a meaningful contribution to improving human development indicators that are considered to be lagging by reference to the regional context. Such a study will not only be a valuable input to UNRWA in defining its overall organizational strategy and planning for each field of operation, but should also serve as an advocacy tool in highlighting the human development needs of one of the largest refugee populations in the world, whose refugee condition has lasted for more than 60 years.

The study will: (i) apply the same conceptual framework and methodologies used to measure human development of countries, including those that host Palestine refugees; (ii) establish measures and associated baselines against which to periodically monitor progress; and (iii) identify gaps between the status of Palestine refugees’ human development and relative comparators.




UNRWA will require an experienced researcher who will also act as a project manager to produce the human development study. In producing the study, the researcher will provide technical expertise, ensuring a high quality output, accuracy and consistency of data analysis.

Expected output

The expected output is the inaugural Palestine Refugee Human Development Study. The study will analyze the human development condition of Palestine refugees by reference to standard human development indicators and indices including, but not limited to: Human Development Index (HDI), Inequality-adjusted HDI, Multidimensional Poverty Index, Gender Inequality Index, and other key impact indicators. The indicators would, to the extent possible and relevant, be disaggregated by: (i) gender, (ii) location of residence (camp/non-camp/rural/urban), (iii) age (stage in the life-cycle), (iv) field of registration; (v) socio-economic status; and (vi) disability.  The study should identify statistical gaps that cannot be filled within the time available to conduct the study and what would be required to fill those gaps in the years ahead.

Description of Duties

  • Collect and analyze existing relevant data, engaging with national/regional research institutes, eminent researchers and academics;
  • Facilitate partnerships with key partners, such as the World Bank and UNDP researchers, in producing the study;
  • Work with internal and external partners to define the methodological and conceptual approach, as well as the final structure of the study;
  • Coordinate reviews and consultations with relevant stakeholders, particularly on sensitive topics;
  • Ensure that gender differentials are analyzed throughout the report, giving special consideration to policy recommendations that promote equity in access and outcome;
  • Draft and edit the study, ensuring consistency of data, logical linkages, and coherence of conclusions and recommendations;
  • Prepare a statistical annex with data tables and a methodological note.



  • Advanced university degree from an accredited educational institution (minimum Master degree, preferably PhD) in political science, social sciences, public policy or other relevant subject;
  • At least ten years of progressively responsible relevant professional experience in academia or research institutions, with a focus on socio-economic analysis, experience with gender analysis and the development of composite indices, and social impact assessment;
  • Proven experience of managing research projects;
  • Understanding of the political context and situation of Palestine refugees in UNRWA fields;
  • Excellent command of written and spoken English.


  • Fluency in written and spoken Arabic.



  • Advanced understanding and proven application of qualitative and quantitative research methods;
  • High level analytical, statistical and IT skills;
  • Ability to be creative in conceptualizing and analyzing problems to identify key issues, problem solving and decision making;
  • Excellent writing skills;
  • Ability to establish and maintain effective working relations in a multi-cultural, multi-ethnic environment with sensitivity and respect for diversity;
  • Strong organizational skills, ability to meet deadlines and to manage multiple tasks effectively and efficiently;
  • Committed to human development principles and values.

Supervision and reporting

  • The Human Development Researcher will report to the Senior M&E Officer of the Department of Planning and work closely with the Director, Department of Planning.



  • The duration of this assignment will be approximately 8-12 calendar months.
  • Remuneration for this consultancy will depend on the qualifications and experience of the expert.



Applicants should submit a cover letter and CV or UN Personal History Form demonstrating clearly the knowledge and experience required to meet the consultancy requirements via, clearly indicating the title of this consultancy “Human Development Researcher” in the subject line of the message. The deadline for the submission of applications is 7 February 2014 (late applications will not be considered).


UNRWA is an equal opportunity employer and welcomes applications from both qualified and experienced women and men. UNRWA encourages applications from female candidates. Only those applicants short-listed for interview will be contacted. UNRWA is a non-smoking work environment.

BEIRUT, Lebanon, 6 January 2014 – Aya carefully sweeps the floor of the dimly lit room where she, her four siblings and her parents have lived since they arrived in Lebanon from the Syrian Arab Republic.

“I feel pain,” says Aya softly. “My parents are tired and have nothing.”

Despite her constant worry for her parents, 10-year-olf Aya has managed to keep her spirits. Her natural smile and sparkling eyes brighten up the somber room as if to match the glittery reflections of the sequins on her shirt.

Aya’s parents say their children have been out of school for two years now. In Lebanon, they can’t afford to send them to school, as the family barely makes enough to pay rent.
Aya is one of about 51,000 Palestinians who have fled the Syrian Arab Republic into Lebanon, according to figures from November 2013. More than half are sheltering in the 12 already overcrowded and impoverished Palestinian refugee camps, some of which have existed since 1948. Living conditions are extremely difficult: houses are damp and unventilated, streets are narrow, and the sewage systems flood regularly in winter.

Prior to the Syrian conflict, Lebanon, a country of around 4.2 million, hosted some 260,000 registered Palestinian refugees. The influx of Palestinians from Syria has strained the already limited resources, weak infrastructure and overstretched services available in these existing Palestinian camps.

Aya remembers when she used to have her own separate room, which had toys and even a computer. Here in Lebanon, she passes time alone in front of the family’s rented room, bouncing a ball….

Full report from UNICEF here.


Last week I participated in (and helped organize) a Chatham House workshop on the rather technical issue of Palestinian refugee compensation and associated implementation mechanisms. It was held, like most other Chatham House meetings on the issue, in the lovely Oxfordshire village of Minster Lovell. Over two days, some two dozen Palestinian, Israeli, and international experts were formed into teams, and given the challenge of designing an appropriate reparations mechanism for the refugee issue. Each of these were then “stress tested” by the group against likely political and operational challenges, as well as different funding scenarios. Participants were in top form, and the discussions were of extremely high quality.

The Chatham House team will be pulling together a full workshop report in the new year. For now, however, I thought I would offer a few of my own take-aways from the meeting, with the obvious caveat that other participants may have somewhat different impressions.

First, I was impressed with how much discussion of the issue has matured in the last decade or so. When IDRC and Palestinian Refugee ResearchNet held a workshop on compensation in 1999, it was fraught with political sensitivities. Some Palestinians feared that a focus on compensation was somehow an effort to erode other refugee rights. Now, however, it is broadly recognized that reparations are a right in and of themselves. Moreover, the quality of the discussion has improved dramatically over the years. Much of this is due to growing amount of policy-relevant research on the topic, including that by the International Organization of Migration (supported by IDRC), the Negotiations Support Unit of the PLO, and others.

Second, the workshop underscored how extremely complicated compensation is. The format of the workshop pushed participants to delve into technical details, ranging from eligibility to valuation, inheritance laws, payment, structures and procedures of an international mechanism and fund, and other aspects beside. These are not minor details too—if you get some of them wrong, the process is likely to run into serious practical and political problems. Claims-based systems of compensation are likely to be especially complicated, given the need to trace back properties, ownerships, and values over 65 years and three generations.

Third, an absolutely central theme running through the meeting was that doing compensation right fundamentally hinges on addressing normative issues of responsibility, moral acknowledgement, and recognition. Without these, the amounts of money that are likely to be available will be inadequate to provide any sort of  closure to the issue. On the contrary, throwing  just money and a mechanism at the issue of property seizures and forced displacement would only aggravate refugee grievances.

This is really, really important. Up until now, most policymakers have assumed that a compensation regime would be something of a positive element that could help sell other parts of a broader deal. I am now of the view that—at best—its effects are neutral. More likely, it may could prove to be a significant liability.

The problem is exacerbated by resource limitations. None of the mechanisms we discussed looked likely to work with less than $30 billion in financing. By contrast, the US had thought that up to $20 billion in funding might be available for  compensation for both Palestinian and Jewish refugees at the Camp David negotiations in 2000, and  Israel seemed willing to consider a fixed sum contribution of around $3-5 billion during the Taba refugee negotiations in 2001. At the most recent workshop, as with every other meeting I have ever attended on the subject, those with the most experience in the donor community warned that the international community’s contribution to a compensation fund would be limited. Instead, donors would be more willing to provide support for repatriation and development costs.

It could be argued, of course, that compensation funds are meant to be a symbolic recognition of the suffering suffered by refugees, rather than fully repairing the damages done by the Nakba. However, one can’t imbue an act with symbolic value in the eyes of victims merely by assertion—refugees themselves have to view it in that way too. However, the sorts of amounts often discussed for “refugeehood” payments to Palestinian refugees may be seen as insulting rather than  providing moral and emotional closure. (They add up quickly, too—at $1,000 per refugee you’re already running up a total of $5-8 billion or so.)

Given this, I’m now tending to the view that we may need to rethink the entire paradigm of individualized compensation. Or, perhaps, the decision ought to be left to refugees themselves. One could envisage an agreement in which an international fund (based largely on israeli contributions) is established, but its ultimate use is made subject to broad consultations within the refugee community, even a referendum of sorts.

I’m not at all optimistic that the current peace process will lead to any sorts of breakthroughs, much less an agreement to resolve the Palestinian refugee issue. However, the refugee issue is also not going away—and, if it is ever to be resolved in the future, thinking through these sorts of complex technical issues in advance could be very valuable.

9780745333380While it may never have the cultural and literary impact of Lord of the Rings, I’m pleased to report of the third and final book in Palestine Refugee ResearchNet’s trilogy on the Palestinian refugee issue has now been published: Rex Brynen and Roula el-Rifai, eds., The Palestinian Refugee Problem: The Search for a Resolution (London: Pluto Press, 2013).

In this unique volume, leading analysts – many of whom have been actively involved in past negotiations on this issue – provide an overview of the key dimensions of the Palestinian refugee problem. Mindful of the sensitive and contested nature of the subject, none offers a single solution. Instead, each contribution summarises and synthesises the existing scholarly and governmental work on the topic.

Each paper develops an array of policy options for resolving various aspects of the refugee issue, written in such a way as to provide a broad menu of choices rather than a single narrow set of recommendations.

The book is the product of a longstanding collaboration between Roula and myself, and between the International Development Research Centre and PRRN. Our two previous volumes examined Palestinian refugee compensation (Pluto Press, 2013) and refugee repatriation and development (I.B. Tauris, 2007)

The book was published just in time for a recent Chatham House workshop on refugee compensation, where the chapters by Norbert Wühler and Heike Niebergall were invaluable. Many thanks to Pluto Press for rushing the first copies to Minster Lovell.


List of Tables
Preface and Acknowledgements

1. Research, Policy and Negotiations and Resolving the Palestinian Refugee Problem
Rex Brynen and Roula El-Rifai

2. Implementation Mechanism: Policy Choices and Implementation Issues
Norbert Wühler and Heike Niebergall

3. Whither UNRWA?
Liana Brooks–Rubin

4. Return, Repatriation, Residency and Resettlement
Rex Brynen

5. An Offer They Can Refuse: Host countries and a Palestinian-Israeli Agreement on Refugees
Roula El-Rifai and Nadim Shehadi

6. Refugee Compensation: Policy Choices and Implementation Issues
Heike Niebergall and Norbert Wühler 

7. Addressing Jewish Claims in the Context of a Palestinian-Israeli Agreement
Michael Fischbach

8. Refugee Absorption and Development
Rex Brynen

9. Intangible Needs, Moral Acknowledgement and the Palestinian Refugee Issue
Michael Molloy, John Bell with Nicole Waintraub, Ian Anderson

10. Managing Refugee Expectations
Khalil Shikaki

11. A Never-Ending End to Claims
Geoffrey Aronson


ECFR’s “Two State Stress Test”

Posted: December 13, 2013 by Rex Brynen in peace process
Tags: ,

logoThe European Council and Foreign Relations has launched the first of what is to be a series of periodic “two state stress test” reports

ECFR’s new innovative project – the Two State Stress Test provides an annual health-check on whether developments across seven different areas are serving to strain or sustain a possible two-state outcome for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The results of the 2013 assessment can be seen below on the Stress Test Mixer.Click on any category below to find out moreA summary of the key findings can be found  here. An explanation of the TSST can be found here and the entire test text in pdf format can be downloaded here

What are the main findings of the 2013 TSST?

At the moment the largest strain on prospects for the two-state outcome are presented by two categories (i) the territorial issue and particularly the continued expansion of Israeli settlements both in the West Bank and in East Jerusalem –at a conspicuously faster pace since peace talks resumed; and (ii) the dynamics of theIsraeli political and public debate which notably combine little public confidence in the talks with a cabinet and ruling coalition a number of whose influential members openly oppose two states and advocate variations on an annexation of the West Bank. This is only partially mitigated by  the public still broadly being supportive of a two-state outcome.

The factor that comes out as most sustaining the two-state solution at the moment is the renewed US-led diplomatic efforts. The Two State Stress Test indicates that a lessening of this intensity would leave the prospects for the two-state solution even more fragile.

Strains on the two state option are generated at a lesser but notable level from all other categories – a gradually worsening situation in Jerusalem and on securityquestions, and by two factors less frequently taken into consideration: the Palestinian political and public debate and the refugee issue.


Although I served as a member of the expert advisory committee for the TSST, final judgments and scorings were made by the ECFR.