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Guest Writers

Ruthless pragmatism has triumphed over the people's revolutions

Nabila RamdaniDemocracy was the key word during the Arab Spring demonstrations of 2011. Rather than violent uprisings, they were protests calling for free elections, parliaments and, more generally, a stake in society for millions kept alienated and impoverished. Young people were at the forefront of this largely peaceful movement, which wanted those governing the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) to adapt to a changing world; in most cases this meant stepping down from power. So it was that the aspirations of ordinary people were placed on the global agenda, and dictators fell.

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Key shifts in the Arab 'moderates' position on Hamas and Israel

Andrew HammondThe Egyptian, Saudi and other Arab "moderates" position on the Gaza war has been presented in most media discussion and political analysis as a striking departure from previous policy and indication of a new shift towards Israel and its view of Hamas, "resistance" and other regional challenges to the global order. The fact is, however, that their Gaza policies are the consequence of over a decade of restructuring of Arab positions to accommodate the United States.

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Resistance to Israeli occupation can and must take many forms

Susan AbulhawaPropaganda for world consumption aside, Israelis have never minced their words about their ultimate aim of Eretz Israel, so-called "Greater Israel", from the Mediterranean to the River Jordan. This is alluded to in the Israeli flag, the two blue lines of which each represent a body of water, with only Jews between them, symbolised by the lone Star of David. Their opposition to a viable, contiguous, autonomous Palestinian state has always been explicit and adamant. Everything they've done to-date has been to achieve Jewish dominance in all of Palestine and the region as a whole, demographically in the former as well as economically and militarily in the latter. The Palestinian body and stubborn will to exist have posed the only hindrance to these supremacist aspirations. However, through rapacious construction of illegal Jewish-only colonies, regular military destruction of Palestinian institutions, extrajudicial executions, massive random incarceration, institutionalised oppression in all aspects of life, social engineering and more, Israel has effectively managed Palestinian resistance. All of Israel's wars, except the Yom Kippur War, were initiated by the Zionist state for the purpose of regional hegemony and territorial expansion. Expecting Israel to negotiate in good faith for Palestinian autonomy, therefore, is naive in the extreme. Equally absurd is the belief that world powers, including the United States, are honest brokers for justice which might usher-in even the minimal dignity of demilitarised Palestinian self-determination on the mere 22 per cent of historic Palestine comprising the West Bank and Gaza.

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Adapt, survive and thrive: UNRWA responds to the Syria crisis

Chris GunnessIt was the start of another day for the UNRWA team in Syria. Our convoy entered the besieged Palestinian refugee camp of Yarmouk in Damascus on 31 January where, as usual, a river of people as far as the eye could see stood waiting for food. A colleague casually snapped a photo, unaware that he had captured an image that was to make history. We posted the picture at unrwa.org and within hours it had gone viral, with 8 million postings in the first 24 hours. It later formed the centerpiece of a social media campaign, in which nearly forty million people clicked to have the image featured on the two highest profile billboards on earth, in New York's Time Square and Tokyo's Shibuya district. In a beautiful act of global solidarity, people on two sides of the planet took "selfies" in front of the giant screens and we whizzed them back to Yarmouk. The message was clear. Yarmouk will not be forgotten. The UN will not neglect your plight.

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Negotiations and reconciliation

Hani Al-MasriAfter the US president announced the need to stop the Palestine-Israel negotiations for a while in order to reflect on what has happened and study the alternatives suggested by both parties, which would, according to American predictions, push both sides back into negotiations because the alternatives are far worse than negotiations, the picture remains unclear. This is because there are several scenarios, including Netanyahu's threat to resort to taking unilateral measures in the West Bank, the agreement on a new formula to resume negotiations, or keeping the current situation the way it is.

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