In May 2004, discussions were held with a group of Israelis, Palestinians and international officials and experts to address the aspects of third party involvement during the period of Israeli withdrawal from Palestinean territory. The following report is a reflection of the issues discussed and incorporates many of the ideas contributed by the participants. It identifies current strategic aspects on an Israeli withdrawal; describes the operating environment for a third party; outlines the potential nature of international involvement in the border regime, in Palestinian governance and in the transfer of asset in the Gaza Strip; and concludes with general planning factors and considerations.
This paper reviews UNRWA’s fifty-five years of operation as a representative case of international aid gone sour. UNRWA has been the most prolonged, most expensive, and most controversial assistance operation. The study shows that prolonged operations go through three phases: first, a short emergency endeavor is carried out as a fire-extinguisher mechanism. Second, the operation becomes bureaucratized, and working norms, procedures, rules and regulations are established. Finally, the operation folds up, and responsibilities are transferred to legitimate local authority. UNRWA never reached the third phase, and it continues to operate as a “non-territorial government” competing with the elected Palestinian Authority for funds and responsibilities. UNRWA’s hastily drawn mandate left a void in defining the agency’s operating regulations and its “exit strategy”. Also lacking are regulations concerning the protection of the refugees human rights, a critical issue in the violent Israeli-Palestinian relations. In conclusion, when a short-term emergency assistance becomes a long-term operation, the mission becomes politicized, original objectives become irrelevant, and the hastily adopted mandate serves as a recipe for mismanagement