on the UN's permanent responsibility for the question of Palestine

It is with good reason that the General Assembly annually reaffirms “the permanent responsibility of the United Nations with regard to the question of Palestine until the question is resolved in all its aspects in accordance with international law and relevant resolutions.”

The Assembly’s first special session, called by the United Kingdom in April 1947, established the Special Committee on Palestine (UNSCOP) to prepare a report and submit “such proposals as it may consider appropriate for the solution of the problem of Palestine.” The Special Committee report recommended that the Assembly submit eight questions to the ICJ relating to Palestine’s administration under League of Nations mandate and its potential partition or trusteeship by the United Nations, including:  

Whether the United Nations, or any of its Member States, is competent to enforce or recommend the enforcement of any proposal concerning the constitution and future government of Palestine, in particular, any plan of partition which is contrary to the wishes, or adopted without the consent of the inhabitants of Palestine.

The Assembly voted against referring any of the questions and forthwith adopted the partition recommendation as Resolution 181. At the time, the legal effect of the resolution split opinion, but in retrospect, Resolution 181 is recognized to have been non-binding, if not ultra vires, as it is doubtful if the UN has a capacity to convey title. Regardless, the Security Council failed to take the enforcement measures requested in Resolution 181, including a determination that “any attempt to alter by force the settlement envisaged by this resolution” constituted a threat to the peace, breach of the peace, and/or act of aggression, and the imposition of remedial measures under Articles 39 through 41 of the Charter. 

Writing on the Partition Plan in 1968, Nabil Elaraby, then an diplomat in the Egyptian UN mission and later an ICJ judge, remarked that “the complete dereliction by the United Nations of its duty toward the legitimate interests of Palestinians is directly responsible for the bloodshed that has distressed the area for over twenty years.” It is bitterly ironic that nearly 70 years after the UN recommended Palestine’s partition, the limits of its authority to recommend, or impose, a territorial settlement in Palestine remain far from clear.       


Source: https://drive.google.com/drive/u/0/search?...

YPLF Conference Legacy: Journal and Legal Advocacy Projects

Palestine Works hosted the Young Palestinian Lawyers Fellowship (YPLF) Conference on 1 - 5 August 2016, at Birzeit University. The Conference's theme was on Rebuilding the Palestinian National Movement. At the Conference, we had a total of 36 participants; 29 from the West Bank (including several from East Jerusalem), six from the United States, and one from Switzerland. Our participants engaged in dialogue amongst themselves and leading academic experts on the question of Palestine. 

Now, the Palestine Works team is, in light of the end of the Conference, compiling the YPLF Conference Journal to mark the accomplishment of our participants. Select material will be published in the Journal, a bound volume that will collect and distribute the legal scholarship made possible by the YPLF. The Journal will highlight and reinforce the lessons, high points, and key takeaways of the various conference components. 

Also, many of our participants (both Palestinian and international) have committed to ongoing participation in various civil society organization (CSO) legal advocacy projects, which will allow our participants to devote their legal skills to an array of external initiatives designed by our CSO partners. 

As the YPLF Conference legacy continues throughout the end of 2016, Palestine Works looks forward to hosting future YPLF Conferences. The 2016 YPLF Conference proved to be the starting point for a network of committed young Palestinian and international advocates for Palestine. Palestine Works has successfully empowered and strengthened this talented network with the legal capacities of the YPLF Conference. These young advocates will continue growing and flourishing and make an impactful change within Palestine. 

Inaugurating the Young Palestinian Lawyers Fellowship Conference

Palestine Works will be hosting its inaugural Young Palestinian Lawyers Fellowship Conference on August 1, at Birzeit University in Palestine.

The Conference empowers the next generation of local, diaspora, and international leadership devoted to the question of Palestine to lay the groundwork for breakthroughs and change in the current discourse on Palestine.

Over 40 attendees from a dozen local and international law schools, as well as alumni of Palestine Works fellowships, will participate in any or all three Conference Programs, catered to advancing their careers and developing projects that exemplify the principles of service, innovation, efficacy, and Palestinian agency. These programs are the Speaking SeriesWriting Workshop, and the Moot Court competition.

Participants will be equipped with a foundation to make meaningful contributions to the advancement of international law, human rights, and Palestinian self-determination through an immersive space for career advancement, skills training, networking, and engagement.

Interview with The Institute for Palestine Studies

Palestine Works (PW) is a U.S.-based, nonprofit advocacy organization. It is hosting the inaugural Young Palestinian Lawyers Fellowship (YPLF) Conference from August 1-5, 2016 at Birzeit University in the West Bank. The conference, which is geared towards young lawyers, law students, and other rights-based Palestine advocates, explores the legal and political dimensions of rebuilding the Palestinian national movement on an inclusive, representative basis, and the interplay between this initiative and the Palestinian statehood project.

Palestine Square recently sat down with PW’s founding director, Omar Yousef Shehabi, to discuss the organization and its role in the Palestine advocacy movement.

It might be fair to assume that most in the Palestinian rights community have not heard of PW, can you introduce yourself? 

We got started in early 2013 as an all-volunteer venture. We’re best known for our original program, the Law Fellowship, which utilizes law students and recent law graduates to support the work of human rights organizations serving Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and Israel. The program develops new advocates for Palestinian equal rights and a just resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Over 60 law fellows have participated in our first four classes.

Our first legal advocacy project was a report to the United Nations Human Rights Council’s Commission of Inquiry investigating violations of human rights and international humanitarian law during the Israeli military operations in the West Bank and Gaza Strip in the summer of 2014. Ours was the only report filed with the Commission of Inquiry that was devoted exclusively to the situation in occupied East Jerusalem. This report showed us the incredible advocacy potential of our alumni if we keep them properly engaged through high-impact projects.

We’ve also launched our most ambitious advocacy project to date, called Post-Oslo Palestine in International Law, which sheds light on international law questions raised by the Palestinian Authority’s recent legal and diplomatic initiatives and to inform a coherent strategy for future such initiatives.

And we’re growing up as an organization. Now we’re trying to assemble the team and the resources that we need to sustain these programs and keep innovating.

You mentioned your human rights submissions. Do you see PW as a human rights organization?

No. We have tremendous respect for Palestinian and Israeli human rights organizations, and we support their work through our Law Fellowship. They do a great job monitoring and documenting human rights violations. But that system has failed to create meaningful accountability. I’m not suggesting that the human rights organizations should stop engaging the UN human rights system: it has value, if only to deny Israel total impunity, to create a historical record, or to serve as a foundation for more effective forms of advocacy. But Israel has basically neutralized this system. The criticism rolls off its back. It has won the narrative that UN human rights reporting on Israel is, to quote U.S. policy, “repetitive, disproportionate, and one-sided.”

We’re not interested in working in this system. Instead, we’re searching for new advocacy channels. We have a different starting point and a different dynamic. So we’re a Palestine advocacy organization rather than a human rights organization or an activist organization.

Give me an example of Israel neutralizing the human rights system, as you say.

What I mean is that even when the human rights community gains some traction on a certain issue, Israel knows how to work the system.

For example, UNICEF released a report in 2013 declaring that the ill-treatment of Palestinian children in Israeli military detention was “widespread, systematic, and institutionalized.” For a UN agency, that’s exceptionally strong language and the top brass at UNICEF was reportedly split on whether to go that far. So what happened? Israel effectively coopted UNICEF. The agency praised Israel for agreeing to a never-ending “dialogue” wherein Israel makes marginal changes to its practices, such as greater use of warrants in lieu of arrest raids. It refuses other recommendations, which extends the dialogue, and it reserves the right to reintroduce any practice in the name of security, whereupon the dialogue would presumably start again.

Over 550 Palestinian children were killed in the 2014 Israeli military operations in Gaza, the third highest number of children killed anywhere in the world that year. Yet the Secretary-General declined to add Israel to the UN’s list of states and armed groups that violate children’s rights. So just as the “peace process” is a tool for preserving the status quo, the UNICEF dialogue is useful for Israel. It poses no threat to its military objective of neutralizing Palestinian youth resistance, while it distinguishes Israel from “unenlightened” regimes that would outright reject such a dialogue.

What makes PW different than other advocacy organizations?

I’m impressed by the level of student and citizen activism around Palestine, but as student or citizen activists move into the professional world, how do they maintain that connection with Palestine, or rather, how does their connection with Palestine evolve in a way commensurate with their professional status? There are precious few ways for young professionals to put their talent to the service of Palestine. I know because I tried – and found that the only way in was all the way in. I left my job as a labor lawyer and made Palestine my career. Not everyone can or wants to do that, nor should they have to. That’s where we come into play. We want to be the platform for young professionals to do professional work in service of Palestine.

Our greatest strength is our network of young professionals, whose commitment to Palestine is borne of service rather than experiential education. Bearing witness is important, but learning through service creates the competence and understanding needed for sustained, effective advocacy for the Palestinian cause.

Our emphasis on innovation and efficacy reflects both our experience working on Palestinian rights and our frustration with the current advocacy channels, which are oversaturated and ineffective.

For example, we are making the first ever submission on religious freedom in Israel and occupied Palestine to the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom. This Commission was established nearly 20 years ago to monitor religious freedom around the world and make policy recommendations to the U.S. President, the Secretary of State, and Congress, yet has never reported on Israel’s religious freedom record. In fact, it has gone to great lengths to avoid even mentioning Israel, while it decries the religious freedom records of other hollow democracies characterized by a dominant religion or ideology, such as Russia and Turkey.

You worked as a legal advisor to the Palestinian negotiating team. What, if any, relationship does PW maintain with the Palestinian Authority?

We’re not affiliated with the Palestinian Authority or any official Palestinian institution. But our experience and relationships with “official Palestine” are an asset and are factored into our perspective.

Of course, we want a more inclusive, representative and effective Palestinian national movement. But we also don’t let the current state of the national movement obscure the fact that the Palestinian people have always faced great obstacles in their pursuit of self-determination, and those obstacles are no less today. One can demand a better, more accountable Palestinian government without denying the huge challenges facing any Palestinian leadership or government.

Above all, we want to be effective. When that involves working with official actors, we have the experience and connections to do that effectively. And when that calls for working outside the system, we’ll do that, too.

What’s next for PW?

I see Palestine Works becoming the place where young professionals work together in pursuit of peace and justice for the Palestinian people. The fellowship model is how we incubate young professionals for a lifetime of advocacy for Palestinian rights, advocacy we drive through projects with real potential to advance the discourse on Palestine. With the appropriate resources, we will extend this fellowship model to fields beyond law. And through the YPLF Conference, we are also supporting the development of Palestinian young professionals. Our goal is to build a platform for young professionals in all fields and of all backgrounds to channel their professional talents in service of Palestine.

The interview transcript is also available on the Palestine Square blog.


Event: Right of Return @ NYU Law

The Palestinian Right of Return: A Legal and Political Analysis
Friday, April 1, 2016 | 2:30–6:30 PM
Vanderbilt Hall
New York University School of Law
40 Washington Square South

RSVP herehttp://goo.gl/forms/Qpr0qsABUE

Hosted By: Law Students for Justice in Palestine, Center for Human Rights and Global JusticePalestine Works, National Lawyer's Guild (NYU Chapter), Law Students for Human Rights, Students for Justice in Palestine (NYU Chapter)

The conference aims to address the substance of the right, its grounding in international law, and its centrality to a rights-based, holistic resolution of the conflict. 

A Contested Right: Mobilization & Resistance on the Palestinian Right of Return
2:00-3:45 PM in Golding Lounge
Speakers: Emilio Dabed Jamil Dakwar, Michael Letwin, and Omar Shakir (Moderator)

The first panel will address the political marginalization of the Palestinian right of return and grassroots responses. The panel will feature Emilio Dabed of Columbia Law School and Al-Quds University, Michael Letwin of Jews for Palestinian Right of Return and Jamil Dakwar, a human rights lawyer and adjunct lecturer at John Jay College. Omar Shakir of the Center for Constitutional Rights will moderate.

The Right of Return Under International Law: A Conversation with Susan Akram
4:00-5:30 PM in Vanderbilt Hall 204
Speakers: Susan Akram and Omar Shehabi (Moderator)

This discussion between international legal expert, Susan Akram, Boston University School of Law, and Omar Shehabi, director and founder of Palestine Works, will address the scope and status of the right of return under international law.

Cocktail Reception
5:30-6:30 PM in Golding Lounge
The event will end with a cocktail reception to meet and continue the discussion with the panelists and student organizers.