May 22, 2012 | 3:15 am
American politicians are taking a controversial new approach to the issue of Palestinian refugees, which could mean a face-off with UN refugee agency UNRWA, writes Jonathan Schanzer in Foreign Policy.
The knock on UNRWA [The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East] is that it exists to perpetuate the refugee problem, not solve it. It was UNRWA that bestowed refugee status upon “descendants of refugees,” regardless of how much time had elapsed. As a result, the Palestinian refugee population has grown seven-fold since the start of the Arab-Israeli conflict. As one study projects, if descendants maintain their current status, the number of “refugees” in 2020 will be 6.4 million—despite the fact that few of the actual, displaced Palestinians will still be alive. In 2050, that number will reach 14.7 million.
Shibley Telhami for the Brookings Research and Policy Institute takes the pulse of the Egyptian electorate in the run-up to the presidential elections.
Egyptians who voted in the parliamentary elections say that the most important factors in determining their choices were political party (24%) followed by candidate’s record and experience (21%), and candidate’s position on the economy (19%). But they rank these factors differently in their choices of Presidential candidates, with personal trust in the candidate being the most important (31%) followed by the economy (22%) and record and experience (19%). Interestingly only 9% ranked the role of religion in politics as the most important factor in the parliamentary elections and 8% in their Presidential preferences.
Leila Fadel and Ingy Hassieb of the Washington Post take a look at how things changed for the worse for women in Egypt after the regime fell.
Women hold just over 2 percent of the seats in Egypt’s new parliament, down from about 12 percent in the last elections held under Mubarak. The sharp decline followed the elimination of a quota to ensure women’s representation, which had been seen by many as a way to stack the body with members of Mubarak’s political party. Military rulers did not include any women in the committee that wrote constitutional amendments adopted in a nationwide referendum last year.
Writing in the National Interest, Robert W. Merry outlines the steps he believes the Obama administration must take to win Russian cooperation on Iran.
[T]here are many issues that require cooperation between Washington and Moscow - Syria, Afghanistan, missile defense, nonproliferation, Russia’s WTO entrance and of course Iran. But Iran is the most pressing, and it may be difficult to get Russian cooperation on this imperative without progress on some of the other fronts. That could mean granting Russia what Putin has said he wants from the United States.
Writing for the Institute for National Security Studies, Udi Dekel and Orit Perlov draw a line between the means of protest during the Arab Spring, and the new methods used by Palestinians held in Israeli jails.
The hunger strike, in effect another Palestinian tool in the struggle with Israel, departs from terrorism and violence (barring that the situation does not spiral out of control should a striking prisoner die) and focuses on applying public opinion pressure on Israel. With this recourse to hunger strikes, the Palestinians have adopted methods commonly used in the Arab world since the start of the “Arab Spring.” The main purpose of the nonviolent struggle is to change Israeli policy by using new tools, and the decision to employ nonviolent means signals an awareness that they are likely to be more effective, especially with regard to human rights issues.
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