by Eetta Prince-Gibson
More than 100 known geopolitical solutions to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in Jerusalem have been proposed by local and international groups.
A critical, deconstructed reading of these proposals reveals that they largely consist of apportioning geography with an “us” and “them” perception of who gets what and attend almost exclusively to three aspects of the conflict in Jerusalem: sovereignty and security to maintain that sovereignty; management and control over the holy places; and municipal administration and jurisdiction.1 Furthermore, they have been largely based on an expectation of further conflict and preparation for the next war.2 From the Israeli side, security arrangements have concentrated on the need for an Israeli military presence, technology to solve anticipated problems, physical barriers to cordon-off areas that could be problematic and so forth.
Few, if any, have addressed the real life issues that Jerusalemites will face as they, and their city, transition from conflicted, hostile spaces to shared space in an open city. For all their professed love for the city and commitment to its eternal indivisibility; no proposed solution has offered a plan that will enable Jerusalem’s residents to live functional, productive and creative lives in their city.
Peace should be more than a “mere” formula for ending violence. True peace must include a plan for a new political order, based on human rights, equality and inclusion for all.
Given Jerusalem’s numerous ethnic, religious, national and socioeconomic divisions; the friction points throughout the city; and the continued spatial overlap between Palestinian and Israeli neighborhoods, it is clear that broad-brush plans cannot provide real solutions to the real problems we face here. Therefore, peace plans must focus on changing hostile and fearful mindsets, taking communities and their social fabric into account. Attention must be paid to identity and psycho-social needs. For the city to be secure, its residents must feel physically safe and pyschosocially protected.
The vision I present here is based on the work developed over the years by the Jerusalem Visions Group.3 This vision is predicated on the premise that Jerusalem will become two capitals for two states, each with its own strong government. Each nation will maintain its own national and municipal compounds. Together, the members of the group have affirmed that both the Palestinians and the Israelis have the right to self-determination and separate states; at the same time, we reaffirm our commitment to the economic and physical integration of the city.
This vision embodies a shared belief that Jerusalem has the potential to serve as a world city and that, uniquely among the cities of the world, its essence has to do with holiness, respect, openness and tolerance among members of the three religious communities. While the two sovereignties, with their two capitals, will maintain clear and defined borders within the city, Jerusalem will remain open and non-militarized. Goods and people will be free to move safely and freely across the transparent borders that politically separate and functionally integrate the two cities, guaranteeing economic sustainability.4
Fulfillment of this innovative, comprehensive and challenging vision of the city will require new conceptual frameworks and new modes of planning. However, almost all of the Track I and Track II negotiations, along with most grassroots activities, have privileged the experiences and expertise of elite (and mostly male) actors. Not only is it unlikely that the same old players will generate new ideas; it is more than likely that their analyses will be based on existing social hierarchies and that their proposals will therefore merely reproduce existing inequities and inequality. Moreover, plans for the future of this city have been too often bound by what has been referred to as the “tyranny of international experts,” i.e., technocrats who see each new conflict as yet another project to be managed and therefore fail “to capture the society at hand” or to comprehend the complex historic and socioeconomic relationships which define a particular conflict on the ground.5
Almost universally, negotiators have ignored the role that women can, and must, play in negotiations and implementations of peace processes. Extensive qualitative and quantitative research shows that women positively influence the process of reaching a deal; moreover, once reached, an agreement is 35% more likely to last at least 15 years if women participate in its creation.6
Israeli and Palestinian women have been at the center of NGOs, popular protests and other peace-oriented and citizen-empowering efforts in Jerusalem. They have repeatedly proven that they are both aware of the full range of issues crucial to long-term peace and uniquely positioned to think beyond narrow, militaristic and religious lenses. Women are ready and able to creatively harness untapped resources, such as urban planning, social welfare plans, architecture and even urban landscaping.
But unfortunately, too often, negotiating teams on both sides feel that they are so busy with various “more important” priorities that they cannot “side-track” the process to occupy themselves with “other” matters on the sidelines. They simply don’t “do” gender — they do peace and security, and they feel that these topics have no gender perspective to be considered. They see gender issues as a separate, specialized and minor topic which is irrelevant to their high-end work.7 Worldwide, equality for women has proven to be a stronger peace and stability predictor than wealth, democracy or ethnic identity indices, but little or no proper attention is currently being paid to this evidence.8
Yet, in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, as in so many other conflicts throughout the world, our leaders have marginalized women and minimized their contributions. I propose that negotiations and future plans for the city must rest on two core feminist concepts, inclusive security and gender-sensitive planning. Taken together, these concepts have the analytic, conceptual and social power to bring about a stable resolution to the conflict in Jerusalem and a sustainable plan for its future.
What Is Inclusive Security?
As defined by the United Nations, “inclusive security” refers to the principle that in peace negotiations and conflict resolution, fundamental social changes are necessary to provide a high quality of life for all and to prevent renewed hostilities. Peace plans must focus on changing hostile and fearful mindsets, taking communities and their social fabric into account. In Jerusalem, we must learn to transform our antagonist relations into productive, democratic, and political relationships.
For this to occur, all stakeholders must play a part in the negotiations process, and social and economic considerations should be given equal consideration along with military and political issues. This requires focusing not only on traditional definitions of national interest (i.e., the strict “hard” security requirements for the survival of the state per se) but also, and equally, focusing on security concerns necessary for the survival and the well-being of a state’s citizens.9
Inclusive security thus contains two components: diversity and a more comprehensive view of the topics considered relevant for peace negotiations and implementation. Experience has taught us, however, that both in Israel- Palestine and throughout the world, negotiations are usually the exclusive preserve of the same people — elite diplomatic representatives and security personnel, who fail to understand security from the perspective of ordinary people and often have a vested interest in making sure that new political institutions to advance human rights and equality are not established.10
Diversity, of course, must include women. Most frequently, if they consider women at all, negotiators regard women as victims of violence or passive recipients of support, rather than as stakeholders whose valuable perspectives should inform priorities and procedures. Indeed, over the last two decades, in 31 peace processes throughout the world, women made up only 2% of chief mediators, 4% of signatories and 9% of negotiators.11
In an effort to remedy this worldwide disparity, UN Security Council Resolution 1325 mandates women’s participation in all aspects of peace negotiations, peace-building, peacekeeping, humanitarian response and in post-conflict reconstruction, and stresses the importance of their equal participation and full involvement in all efforts for the maintenance and promotion of peace and security.
In Israel and Palestine, women have repeatedly proven that they are both aware of the full range of issues crucial to long-term peace and uniquely positioned to think beyond narrow, militaristic and religious lenses. Women are ready and able to creatively harness untapped resources, such as urban planning, social welfare plans, architecture and even urban landscaping. Israel ratified UNSC Resolution 1325 in 2000; the Palestinian Authority (PA) ratified the resolution in 2016. Both Palestinian and Israeli NGOs have developed extensive National Action Plans, detailing the ways in which the resolution could be concretely implemented here. Yet, on both sides, women have been largely excluded from most Track I and Track II processes.
At a minimum, it should be obvious that no society can allow itself to forgo the contribution of 51% of its population. However, it is important to emphasize that inclusive security is not merely a question of numbers or of bringing more women to the table. Nor is it based on any assumption of essentialism or women’s inherent peacefulness. Rather, feminists assert, because women’s experiences in the social and political order are different from men’s, women’s concerns are also likely to be different from those identified by men; as a result, women are likely to propose different solutions to existing problems.
Furthermore, neither women nor men are homogeneous groups. Applying the feminist principle of intersectionality,12 inclusivity means equal numerical representation of women (and men) from a variety of groups in the population, including women discriminated against on the basis of religion, race, nationality, ethnicity, age, socioeconomic status, geographical location, color or physical disabilities.13
The importance of the inclusion of women in these processes also points to the recognition that civil society can and must participate in and influence formal political negotiations. Although civil society organizations have fewer resources and may seem “weak” when compared with traditional notions of “hard power”; they are nonetheless exhibiting important “soft power” capacities. They can access and engage a wide range of local actors without the constraints that governments face, in part through new technologies and social media. They can focus on trust- and confidence-building across communities, inform and share experiences across regions, influence discourse and support solution-oriented strategies. In the face of rising extremist rhetoric, they maintain and sustain the space for plurality and coexistence.14
Women’s diverse and civil society’s participation in peace negotiation and implementation processes will take into account that the face of warfare has changed. The distinctions between the battlefront and homefront, and between combatants and civilians, have blurred. Worldwide, urban space and homes have been transformed into targets15 and civilians in both Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories have suffered severe economic, occupational and emotional hardships. For Israeli Jerusalemites, this was especially true during the period of the second intifada and waves of suicide bombings, while in Palestinian Jerusalem, the ongoing occupation, including house demolitions, the “center of life policy” that threatens their rights to live in the city and the status of “residency” rather than citizenship, and arrest and violence, make life physically unsafe and psycho-socially perilous. On both sides, this has led to high levels of post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, depression, health problems and physical disabilities.
If these concerns are not heard, addressed and accommodated as legitimate interests during or at least after the peace process, then negotiators will simply be dismissing and ignoring the security concerns of at least the 51% female majority of the population, thus jeopardizing the long-term viability of any solution, even if the leaders could agree on one.
A review of peace processes, both failed and successful, reveals that the obstacles to peace stability and sustainability can be anticipated and prepared for. These include silencing of pro-peace advocates by extremists who threaten their property and personal security; high levels of criminality, leading to intra-community divisions and hostilities; absence of formal and “safe spaces” to discuss on-going difficulties; and increased rates of gender-based violence.16, 17
It should be painfully self-evident that no one can feel secure or prosperous and that no one will ascribe legitimacy and allegiance to any formal political structure unless they feel that their right to life, identity and property, as well as the rule of law, are safeguarded by their state.18 This requires much more than political proclamations; it requires attention to everyday life.
What Is Gender Sensitive Planning?
Everyday life, however, is not abstract; it has concrete spatial and material dimensions.19 But because of the nature of the conflict in this city, planning for human needs has almost always been subordinated to planning for narrow definitions of security or resistance, with little or no regard for the needs and exigencies of daily life. Few, if any, of the proposed plans have considered how the experience and perception of life in this city can be transformed from contested and competitive to collaborative and mutually-beneficial, or attended to issues such as the need for dignified passage through tense neighborhoods, access to school for children, access to health care for all, and freedom of movement for all people and goods.
In parallel to inclusive security, gender sensitive planning is also based on the understanding that women’s experiences of and in the city are different from those of men, and, like inclusive security, the concept has been broadened to comprise “a way of changing the structure and fabric of the city so that different groups of people can coexist."20 In practice, this means that city resources must be allocated equitably, and that the use of space, as well as laws, rules and regulations, must benefit all intersectional groups of men and women equally. The gender-sensitive city is thus the symbol of an open, tolerant, bustling, safe and creative city.21
In Jerusalem, given its diversity, this means paying attention to everything from architecture that creates and reinforces a sense of identity and belonging for both men and women; to transportation planning that recognizes that different communities observe, for example, different days of rest; to the use of landscaping and parks to create an environment for peace rather than tensions; to addressing practical gender needs such as high chairs and toilets for children; to providing women-only recreational facilities; to conducting gender-sensitive policing. Gender-sensitive planning in Jerusalem must ensure dignified passage through tense neighborhoods, access to school for children and to healthcare for all and freedom of movement for all people, goods and services. Commerce, too, should take gender into account: worldwide, in both urban and rural regions, women are responsible for a majority of consumer purchases of all kinds, and there is no reason to assume that this is different in our region.22
Implementation and Conclusion
It is clear that planning for Jerusalem’s future must be based on a systematic understanding of women’s lives and experiences, as well as of those of all minorities and groups that live here. We need to listen to and analyze women’s needs and perceptions, and to empower their sense of themselves as agents in the promotion of a peaceful society.
To achieve this, we must systematically synthesize all of the knowledge that currently exists, including valuable work done by NGOs and academia, and then conduct a comprehensive, synchronized qualitative and quantitative research project, including surveys, focus groups and other action-oriented modalities, along with studies of conflict resolution in other contested cities and regions.
This paper is not based on any naïve perceptions. As someone who lives in this city, I am painfully aware that our political and psycho-social situation is rapidly deteriorating.
Yet, like many of us, I truly believe that someday, in some future that is either nearer or farther away, there will be a peace agreement regarding Jerusalem. And then, I ask: Will we be prepared? Will we have plans at the ready, based on comprehensive view of security, to provide to negotiators and planners? Will we be ready to contain the peace-spoilers and prevent radicalization?
And, above all, will we be ready to take advantage of a peace plan in order to create a more just society for everyone?
22 Golan, Galia (2011). A Gender Perspective on Security. Palestine-Israel Journal,17: 3&4, pp. 42-45.
3The Jerusalem Visions Group is an ongoing group of Palestinians and Israelis, working to find realistic and just solutions to the conflict in Jerusalem and to develop ideas for cross-border cooperation in Israel-Palestine. I wish to express my deep appreciation to all members of the group, and especially to the group leaders, Prof. Shlomo Hasson and Dr. Rami Nasrallah for their guidance and mentorship, and to my friend and colleague, Amaal Abu-Ghosh for all she has taught me and shared with me. However, beyond the concept of Jerusalem as a politically divided and geographically open city, the opinions and ideas in this paper are mine, based on my understanding of the professional literature and of the current situation in the city I love.
5Kennedy, David 2016. A World of Struggle: How Power, Law and Expertise Shape Global Political Economy. Princeton: Princeton University Press. SEE ALSO: Westendorf, Jasmine-Kim 2015. Why Peace Processes Fail: Negotiating Insecurity After Civil War. Boulder, Colorado: Lynne Rienner Publishers.
6O’Reilly, Marie, Andrea O’ Suilleabhan & Thania Paffenholz 2015. Reimagining Peacemaking: Women’s Roles in Peacemaking. New York: IPI Publications.
8Hudson, Valerie M. 2012. What Sex means for World Peace. In: Foreign Policy (24 April 2012). http://foreignpolicy.com/2012/04/24/what-sex-means-for-world-peace/
11Diaz, Pablo Castillo, Simon Tordjman with Samina Anwar, Hanny Cueva Beteta, Colleen Russo, Ana Lukatela and Stephanie Ziebell 2012. Women’s Participation in Peace Negotiations: Connections between Presence and Influence. http://www.unwomen.org/~/media/headquarters/attachments/ sections/library/publications/2012/10/wpssourcebook-03a-womenpeacenegotiations-en
12For a comprehensive discussion of intersectionality, see: Lutz, Helma, Vivar, Marie Thereasa Herrera, and Supik, Linda (Eds.) (2016). Framing Intersectionality: Debates on a Multi-Faceted Concept in Gender Studies. London: Routledge. For the purposes of this paper, intersectionality can be defined as the interconnected nature of social categorizations such as race, class, and gender as they apply to a given individual or group, regarded as creating overlapping and interdependent systems of discrimination or disadvantage.
16Ward, Margaret (2013). Excluded and silenced: Women in Northern Ireland after the peace process. https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/margaret-ward/excluded-and-silenced-women-in-northernireland- after-peace-process.
17WOMEN AND THE TRANSITION FROM CONFLICT IN NORTHERN IRELAND: LESSONS FOR PEACE-BUILDING IN ISRAEL/PALESTINE Siobhan Byrne Working Papers in British-Irish Studies No. 89, 2009 Institute for British-Irish Studies University College Dublinhttp://irserver. ucd.ie/bitstream/handle/10197/2416/89_byrne.pdf?sequence=1