Building Peace in Palestine

Friday 30 November 2007

The socio-economic conditions of the Palestinian population are becoming more and more alarming. Several UN-sanctioned missions indicate a phenomenal regression in the quality of life, education, and support for health care, as well as a rise in poverty and unemployment. Severe restrictions on the circulation of goods and people by the Israeli army are cited as being the main factor.

With a natural growth rate of about 3.7%, the Palestinian population in Jordan and the Gaza Strip is estimated at about 3,800,000 inhabitants, of which 1,400,000 are in the Gaza Strip.

The construction of a ‘security’ barrier in Jordan since 2002 has underlined this reality by compounding the economic problems of the Palestinian people. The isolation engendered by the construction of this barrier has hindered access to health care and education in certain cases.

In such a context, it is imperative that organizations operating in Palestinian civil society try to better the living conditions of the most vulnerable families by improving access to essential services such as health care and education. In addition to providing these basic social services, these organizations take action at the level of the citizens to promote practices of fair governance and the decentralization of power.

In response to this situation, Alternatives is working in partnership with groups in Palestinian civil society which have been dedicated for several years to peace and justice, and pride themselves on their credibility in the field. Here is a quick survey of the projects supported by Alternatives in the region.

Access to Education

The Teacher Creativity Center (TCC) offers a training program geared towards teachers looking to refresh their concepts and strengthen their pedagogical skills in the fields of civic education, human rights and democracy, so that they are better able to provide accessible and quality instruction despite the obstacles. In this regards, the TCC emphasizes:

-  The mobilization of the student body;
-  Open discussion on the planning and development of new pedagogical and educational approaches promoting the values of peace and civic participation;
-  Educating teachers in principles of human rights, gender equality, democracy and civic education;
-  Establishing a network between teachers in Jordan and Gaza in the aim of developing innovative joint programs in sustainable development;
-  Encouraging children and their parents to become active citizens;
-  Providing instruction in both urban and rural settings for better access to education for citizens.

Civic Participation

TCC and the Alternative Information Center (AIC), our partners in Palestinian civil society, are focusing their efforts on the fight against corruption to better combat poverty and the lack of access to essential services such as health care and education. They are also involved in improving civic participation, fair governance the decentralization of power. Among their activities, we will mention:

-  Encouraging participation of women and youth in democratic institutions;
-  Providing training on the importance of dividing executive and legislative powers;
-  Providing training on the call for bids for public services, and the role of the Palestinian media in assuring that ethical principles of transparency and fair governance are respected;
-  Mobilizing the population in the struggle against corruption
-  Organizing meetings with representatives from civil society, the media and governmental authorities, around issues of fair economic, political and civil governance;
-  Producing studies and analyses on the state of affairs in the region in terms of fair economic, political and civil governance.

Reinforcement of the dialogue between democratic powers

Communication and co-operation between the democratic powers of Israel and Palestine were severely weakened by the constant territorial control imposed by the Israeli army. For Alternatives and its partners, this state of affairs is particularly biased to the Israeli side, where the ‘Israeli peace camp’ has to function in complete isolation from the Palestinian reality and was developed without maintaining a collaboration with its Palestinian counterpart. It is essential that an analysis and a common strategy be re-established between these powers to stimulate positive developments. Such an approach would allow both sides to look beyond the conflict and begin discussion on topics such as economic, social and cultural co-operation. In brief, they must devote their efforts to subjects that have the potential to improve the lot of the two peoples.

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