While the year 2020 was heading toward its end, we at the Palestine-Israel Journal were heading toward closing our last issue for this year, which is devoted to United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 on women, peace, and security. With wonderful, outstanding women from academia and the public sector, we believe we have produced an excellent issue. We believe that it will serve as an impressive resource on this resolution not only for Palestine and Israel but the whole world. Because of the global importance of the subject, we were careful to include a wide spectrum of contributions from the region and abroad. This issue was made possible by the generous support of the Foreign Ministry of the Federal Republic of Germany, and for that we express our gratitude and thanks. This is not the first time that we have collaborated with the German government, and we hope it will not be the last.
A German-language version of this issue is being produced by our partners at the Canaan Project in Berlin and will be published in early 2021. The two issues in English and German mark the 20th anniversary of 1325 and constitute an effort to examine what has been achieved in terms of peace and security for women over the last 20 years and evaluate what changes the resolution has made and could yet make in the attitude of parliaments and governments around the world. Was it effective? Was it meaningful? Did it bring the desired positive changes, or is much work still needed?
The answers to these questions can be found in the numerous articles in this issue and in the roundtable discussion that was held with the participation of local and international experts, which is an integral part of the issue.
The year 2020 was not a normal year. Since March 2020 and the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, all countries throughout the world made the fight against it a top priority. New waves of infections are striking in different locations while abating in others, and there is much ambiguity about the failures and successes in confronting it. One thing that we all can agree on, however, is that the world will never again be as it was, and many norms of life will be subject to change in the post-coronavirus era.
In all these circumstances, women were in the eye of the storm, mainly socially and economically but not only in those spheres. The applicability of the principles captured in 1325 — the protection of women and guaranteeing their security on the one hand and enabling them to have their rights and play an essential effective role in governance and in peacemaking on the other — will be more relevant than ever in the post-pandemic world in which women’s contributions to building and developing their societies will be critical.
Although the COVID-19 pandemic was the dominant issue in 2020 and most probably will continue to be so through much of 2021, substantial problems and challenges continue to face people everywhere, and the situation here in the Middle East has gotten even worse. The victims of internal wars and the suffering of the Palestinians under occupation are not being paid enough attention. Joblessness and poverty are growing at a rapid pace, and the pandemic is diverting attention from these human concerns, which women, as noted above, are caught in the middle of.
As people become used to living with this pandemic and with the promising news about the rollout of a vaccine, we will soon return to confront the old/new challenges that are threatening peace and security — not only of women but of all humankind. We, here in Israel and Palestine, should not be misled by false news about making peace, such as the normalization of relations between Israel and several Arab states, simply because these agreements are being made with countries that were never at war with Israel. The primary conflict is between Israel and the Palestinian people over their right to end the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian Territory (OPT) and live free, in peace and security, with dignity on their national land.
Relentless efforts by the Trump administration to normalize relations between Israel and the Gulf states were meant to undermine the Arab Peace Initiative (API), which is based on the principle that if Israel were to withdraw from the OPT and allow the creation of an independent state of Palestine on the June 4, 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as its capital, all the Arab League member states would recognize and normalize relations with Israel. Normalization without achieving this goal makes the API meaningless.
We should not let atrocities by Israel and Jewish settlers in the OPT become a normal situation that we can live with, and we must remain vigilant in the face of any steps the outgoing Trump administration may take in its final days to make the Israeli occupation permanent.
Trump is causing enormous damage to the issue of peace and security worldwide: in North Africa, in the Middle East, with Iran, with China, and elsewhere. When it comes to the Israel-Palestine conflict, he did major damage during his four years in office by recognizing “unified” Jerusalem as the eternal capital of Israel, denying the fact of the occupation and recognizing the legitimacy of Jewish settlements in the OPT, cutting aid to the Palestinian Authority and to UNRWA, and closing the offices of the PLO Mission in Washington, DC. Such steps encourage the right-wing government in Israel to expand its settlement activities, creating facts on the ground and attempting to undermine the possibility of achieving a solution to the conflict based on the two-state formula.
The challenges facing the incoming Biden administration include the need not only to reverse the aforementioned destructive steps taken by Trump in relation to Israel and Palestine but also to take effective steps to begin realizing the state of Palestine as a material fact on the ground that is recognized and supported by the United States and the UN.
Let us hope that the year 2021 will mark progress against COVID-19 and toward ending the Israeli occupation and creating the state of Palestine and, at the same time, a return to focusing on issues of human security, prosperity, peace, and justice, with women at the core of the quest for these goals.