Ramallah, July 2012
IJS Yearly conference on “Area C and the Jordan Valley”
According to its mission to document, research, analyse and publish on the Arab-Israeli conflict the Institute of Jerusalem Studies (IJS), the local branch of the Institute for Palestine Studies (IPS), hosted its yearly conference under the title “Present and Future of ‘Area C’ and the Jordan Valley: Strategies of Confronting Israel’s Colonial Control” on 6-7 July in Ramallah - Al Bireh. The IJS is a long term partner of the Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung (hbs).
In the conference, the current state of the marginalised “area C” was discussed from different angles. Apart from providing academic analysis, the conference was attended by inhabitants from the Jordan Valley and other areas heavily affected by the territorial system of control created in the Oslo treaty: From area C in particular, where development lies completely beyond the decision and planning needs of the local communities, but are administered and controlled by the Israeli military and authorities responsible for the occupied territories. However, the steadfastness and peaceful resistance of local communities continues and recently several voices in the international community, including the EU and the Quartet, have asked for immediate action to allow Palestinians to address their own needs in area C.
The IJS conference was opened with an introduction by the IJS and lectures by Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad and the United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Robert Serry. All other lectures which were delivered during the two day workshop are available online. The first panel treated the land, water and population in “Area C” and the Jordan Valley. The speakers talked particularly about the Israeli controlling mechanism in the Jordan Valley and how settlers target land and water to found settlements in the West Bank as part of Israel. In the second panel the contributors discussed about the Israeli strategic goals in the West Bank. The focus was on the economic goals of Israeli settlements and the settler’s influence on Israeli governments. Awad Mansour spoke about Israel’s Plan to annex “Area C” and the Jordan Valley.
The second day of the conference started on Saturday morning with the third panel about the Palestinian policies of development and planning. The Palestinian Authority informed about its master plan policy, water policy and planning policy in “Area C”. The forth panel dealt with vision and comparisons within this region. Salma al-Nims talked about the Jordanian experience of development of the Jordan Valley. Abdul Rahman Tamimi added in his lecture a proposed institutional framework. Raja Khalidi finished this panel with his speech about the role of the Palestinian private investment in local development.
The last panel of the conference treated the political and legal confrontation of the “Area C” and the Jordan Valley. While Dr. René Wildangel, the director of the hbs office Ramallah, talked about the international community and “Area C”, there was also a discussion about the role of Palestinian civil society organisations. All discussants during the conference agreed that the issue of area C is of highest priority and needs a lot more attention by researchers, civil society and politicians, especially to support the suffering local communities.