Legitimacy, negotiations & reconstruction – a working paper

March 30, 2010

Zomlot cpExecutive summary:

After 15 years of extensive post-Oslo international peace-building interventions – including massive recovery, reconstruction, and state-building initiatives in support of the Oslo peace accord signed in 1993 – Gaza is back to the reconstruction phase and in much poorer shape. Almost a full year later, the $4.5 billion pledged at the Sharm Al Sheikh donor conference has yet to find its way, let alone reach, its destination. The issue of how to reconstruct is always pertinent but given the mounting humanitarian calamity in Gaza, the current situation begs a different question: what are the impediments to Gaza’s recovery and reconstruction? The prevailing deadlock at all levels invites a reassessment of international involvement in the West Bank and Gaza.

Drawing on the lessons of the post-Oslo peace-building international intervention, this paper endeavors to inform the renewed international post-conflict intervention in Palestine and in so doing examines local impediments to the Gaza reconstruction project. The paper surveys the impact of the latest war and Israel’s blockade on Gaza; assesses the role of the key players (Israel, Hamas, and the Palestinian Authority); and sheds new light on post-conflict international involvement in the Palestinian context. In addition to local obstacles, such as Israel’s blockade and Palestinian schism, an informed and assertive third party involvement is missing. Unprepared external involvement, as this paper will argue, could lead to the most undesired result, namely a prolonged conflict. The catastrophic situation in Gaza following “Operation Cast Lead” calls for an immediate start to reconstruction. However, this paper argues that reconstruction must be part of a Palestinian national state-building project – one that includes Gaza as well as the West Bank. International involvement must appreciate the requirement of legitimacy in the Palestinian context, which entails a state-building project that is rooted in a broad internal political process and incorporates the creation and maintenance of functional institutional capacities, fulfilling the task of ending occupation and redressing Palestinian rights.

Downloadable PDF: Zomlot-Working Paper.A

Husam Zomlot bio

Belfer Center for Science & International Affairs and The Dubai Initiative

Harvard Kennedy School

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