Palestinian Territories

Palestinian Territories

Case Studies

Israel and Palestine: Training Security Forces in Negotiation

The Oslo Agreement of 1994 instigated a two-fold process. First, it launched Palestinian security sector reform (SSR) aimed to protect Palestinians and serve as pillar of statehood. Second, it mandated Israeli and Palestinian security forces to work together in border regions, jointly supervising various bridges and boundaries.

The Palestinian security forces were chosen for their loyalty to the Palestinian cause. Many were former prisoners. They were trained and equipped in the use of force, but not provided with skills for working with civil society. In spite of their loyalty to their people, and their passion to help, they lacked knowledge on how to engage effectively with civil society.

Like the Israeli and Palestinian populations at large, Israeli and Palestinian security forces have a history of antagonism and violence. They had little opportunity to meet each other and understand little about the other’s culture, experiences and perceptions. This caused tensions and problems with the civilians crossing these checkpoints between Gaza and Israel and between the West Bank and Jordan. Israeli and Palestinian security forces need communication skills and conflict resolution skills to deal with the public and with each other.

A number of local initiatives responded to these challenges. Between 1996 and 1999 several freelance conflict resolution trainers set up a programme to train Palestinian police, security forces, and government employees on how to better relate with the public. The programme was led by the Palestine Center for Conflict Resolution and Reconciliation (CCRR), an interfaith centre that provides peacebuilding education programmes to a variety of audiences, including the police, security forces, and government employees, in collaboration with PANORAMA, a Palestinian NGO focused on democracy and civil society, and the Palestinian Independent Commission for Human Rights. Its purpose was to improve relationships between Palestinian security forces and Palestinian civil society.

In Hebron, Bethlehem, Abu Dis, Jericho, and Ramallah the trainers reached at least 200 Palestinian members of the security forces. The programme focused first on facilitating an internal dialogue between the different factions in the security forces, to help them learn to understand each other and coordinate with each other. The training included an introduction to conflict resolution skills and methods, a self-assessment to reflect on theirown motivations and behaviours and how these impact the public, a discussion of the impact of internal conflicts within the Palestinian security forces on the public, and an exercise on improving relations with the public.[1]

In 1998-1999, a separate programme brought together Israeli and Palestinian security forces mandated to manage a 24-hour a day border checkpoint at Allenby bridge at the Jordanian border and at Karmy bridge between Gaza and Israel. Given the history of conflict and animosity, this programme aimed to improve the relationships between Israeli and Palestinian security forces. The CCRR and the Israeli Centre for Negotiation and Mediation designed a model of training material course for 40 hours, co-facilitated and co-trained with one Palestinian and one Israeli facilitator. Senior officers on both sides also attended the course.

The officers had little information about each other’s habits, values and general culture other than the negative rumours and stereotypes each side held of the other. Given the lack of trust and understanding, it was difficult for them to work with each other. This course focused on ways to resolve daily conflicts between the two sides, including communication skills and cross-cultural understanding to change the image each side has of the other. The training began with basic trust building. Facilitators helped participants understand the experiences and perceptions that shaped each person’s understanding and behaviour emphasizing their shared humanity. Each participant was given the opportunity to introduce their culture and values to the others. These courses were the first opportunity for those officers to get to know each other and to learn how each side sees the other. All participants and their ranking officers reported a great interest in these courses, and a commitment to continue attending it. Participants indicated that their relationship with each other has changed after taking this course, and the way they were dealing with each other also changed and became better.[2]

Excerpt from the book Local Ownership in Security: Case Studies of Peacebuilding Approaches edited by Lisa Schirch with Deborah Mancini-Griffoli and published by The Alliance for Peacebuilding, The Global Partnership for the Prevention of Armed Conflict, and the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies at the University of Notre Dame.


[1] Palestinian Center for Conflict Resolution and Reconciliation Annual Report 2005. Bethlehem, Palestine. Pg. 14. (Accessed August 19, 2014 at
[2] Participants gave a written and oral evaluation every day of training.

case study

Policy and Research Papers

Squaring the Circle: Security Sector Reform and Transformation and Fiscal Stabilisation in Palestine

This report was commissioned by the UK Department for International Development in order to explore the linkages between security-sector reform and transformation, including downsizing of the Palestine National Security Forces, at a time of political instability, on the one hand, and fiscal stabilisation and financial management over the medium term under conditions of significant economic uncertainty, on the other hand.

To view this publication, please follow this link.


Local Ownership and Security Sector Reform

Over the past two decades, in response to the underwhelming results of international development efforts across the Third World, arguments concerning the importance of local ownership have been gaining currency within the international development community. At its core, the discourse around ownership revolves around fundamental questions of agency: who decides, who controls, who implements, and who evaluates. The growing emphasis on local ownership, then, emerged as a critique of mainstream development practice and the broader cult of Western expertise which underpins it. As Joseph Stiglitz argued a decade ago, a vision of development in which all the answers and all the agency are seen to lie in the hands of foreigners is inherently problematic and ultimately self-defeating: ‘We have seen again and again that [local] ownership is essential for successful transformation: policies that are imposed from outside may be grudgingly accepted on a superficial basis, but will rarely be implemented as intended’. Since then, the principle of local ownership has been viewed increasingly as a precondition for effective development assistance, even if
the translation of the principle into actual practice remains an ongoing challenge.


Working Paper: Amending the Regulatory Framework for Handling Palestinian Citizens’ Complaints

This Working Paper presents the conclusions of a joint task force which had convened to discuss amending the Palestinian Council of Ministers’ Regulation on Complaints No. 6 of 2009. It aims to raise Palestinian decision-makers’ awareness on the importance of improving the existing complaint handling mechanisms of the executive authorities and to provide concrete recommendations for legal reform. While DCAF focuses on complaints handling in relation to complaints against the behaviour of police and security forces, enhancing the overall complaints handling system will also benefit other parts of the public administration and thus the wider Palestinian population.

To access the paper, click here.


Security and insecurity in a police state: Security Sector Reform in the occupied Palestinian territories and the law of unintended consequences

As a wave of protests swept through the Arab world in 2010–11, toppling regimes that had long seemed invulnerable to such popular mobilization, the relative stability of the occupied Palestinian territories (oPt) largely escaped international attention. In a marked break with the unrest and massive sustained popular mobilizations of the past, no significant opposition emerged to challenge the status quo in the oPt, even though dissatisfaction with the status quo runs high in the territories. The author of this article argues that the reason for this historic quiescence is the conflicted version of the security-led mode of governance in the Fatah-dominated Palestinian Authority (PA) that the Oslo process has established in the oPt, backed by US and EU financial and technical assistance.

This article is the second contribution in the Center for Security Governance's new blog series that features recent research findings on security sector reform published in international relations academic journals.

This contribution summarizes research originally published here:

Mustafa, Tahani, (2015). “Damming the Palestinian Spring: Security Sector Reform and Entrenched Repression”. Journal of Intervention and Statebuilding. DOI:


Assessing Community Safety in the Governorate of Hebron

In order to implement an effective security strategy plan in the Governorate of Hebron, it is necessary for security providers be able to identify the reasons for insecurity, and the lack of community safety. For this reason, the Geneva Centre for the Democratic Control of the Armed Forces (DCAF), in collaboration with the Ramallah-based Human Rights and Democracy Media-Centre (SHAMS), conducted focus group discussions with Palestinian community safety stakeholders. The aim of these discussions was to draw out the perceptions of key stakeholders regarding the security situation in Hebron

This report highlights these discussions and presents the findings discussed and formulated by the participants themselves. The findings include:

  • safety deficit due the unstable political and socio-economic satiation in the governorate,
  • domestic insecurity and violence against women
  • accountability challenges of tribal reconciliation mechanisms, and
  • the lack of coordination between formal and informal security and justice institutions.

This reports aims to provide a set of detailed recommendations to the Palestinian authorities in charge of developing and implementing crime prevention and community safety strategies at governorate and national level. It also hopes to provide an informed input to stakeholders in Hebron who are involved in implementing the objectives outlined in the Hebron Community Safety Plan. Finally, it aims to help Palestinian citizens and decision-makers better understand the challenges related to crime prevention and community safety, with a focus on specific issues such as violence against women.


Palestinian Women and Security

This report presents the perspectives of Palestinian women and girls on issues related to security as well as their assessment of the services provided by local authorities and/ or the international community to address their security needs. It concludes with a series of recommendations made by Palestinian women and girls for improving these services.

The findings of this report are based on focus group discussions and in-depth interviews conducted by the Geneva Centre for the Democratic Control of Armed Forces (DCAF) with Palestinian women and girls between June and November 2009 in the West Bank and in the Gaza Strip. DCAF hopes that the report’s findings will encourage stakeholders to integrate the perspectives of women and girls into the national security debate within the Palestinian Territories.


Executive Summary





Maps of the Palestinian Territories


Military and Political Violence

Perceptions of Insecurity in the Public Sphere

Perceptions of Insecurity in the Home

Perceptions of the Response Mechanisms

The Recommendations of Women and Girls



Annex 1: Focus Group Discussions: Questioning Route

Annex 2: Selection of Organisations Offering Services to Palestinian Women


Now Is the Time: Research on Gender Justice, Conflict and Fragility in the Middle East and North Africa

This study examines the impact of fragility and conflict on gender justice and women’s rights in the MENA, as a part of an Oxfam project entitled ‘Promoting the Needs of Women in Conflict in the Middle East and North Africa’ funded through the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office. It specifically aims to understand how conflict and fragility in four different contexts – Egypt, Iraq, the Occupied Palestinian Territory and Yemen – have impacted the realization of gender equality and gender justice in the past several years of political and social upheaval. 

For full access to Now Is the Time: Research on Gender Justice, Conflict and Fragility in the Middle East and North Africa, kindly follow the link.


How Does the Media on Both sides of the Mediterranean Report on Migration?

A study by journalists, for journalists and policy-makers

Funded by the European Union Migration media coverage in 17 countries from 2015 to 2016

We have all seen the stark images depicted in the media of migrants and asylum seekers packed aboard vessels of questionable seaworthiness, risking life and limb to make the perilous journey across the Mediterranean in search of a safe haven and a better future. These images convey in sharp relief the human struggle in its most desperate moments. Over the course of the last three years, we have witnessed a range of different approaches to covering migration in traditional media on both sides of the Mediterranean.

This study aims to unpack some of these approaches in order to identify and better understand the prevailing media narratives on migration that exist in different national contexts. It looks at the strengths and shortcomings and provides some insight into the interplay between editorial lines, political narratives, journalistic approaches and public discourse on this sensitive and often polarising subject. 

For full access to the paper, How Does the Media on Both sides of the Mediterranean Report on Migration?, kindly follow the link. 


Gender Justice & The Law: Assessment of laws affecting gender equality in the Arab States region

Conducted by UNDP, UN Women, UNFPA, and ESCWA, this study on Gender Justice & the Law in the Arab States Region provides a comprehensive assessment of laws and policies affecting gender equality and protection against gender-based violence in Arab countries. The report is composed of 18 country profiles, each of which maps a country’s key legislative developments and gaps regarding gender justice. This introduction provides an overall summary of these country chapters followed by a summary of each country examined.

To access the full report, Gender Justice & The Law, please follow the link provided. 


Policing in Palestine: Analyzing the EU Police Reform Mission in the West Bank

International efforts for security sector reform (SSR) and state building more broadly, have faced major challenges in the Palestinian Territories. Donor countries struggled to overcome an unwillingness at home to use aid funding for police reform purposes, while managing Israeli obstructionism and security concerns, rivalries between Palestinian police generals and a lack of Palestinian preparedness for the technical and practical aspects of police reform. In this context, the European Union Coordinating Office for Palestinian Police Support (EU COPPS) was established in 2005 as an EU Common Security and Defense Policy (CSDP) mission; the European Union Police Coordinating Office for Palestinian Police Support (EUPOL COPPS), the followup EU police mission, began in 2006. The role of EUPOL COPPS was to provide support to the Palestinian Civil Police (PCP) for immediate operational priorities and longer-term transformational change. As efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan have taught the international community, police reform is not as easy as the train-and-equip standard. Especially in postconflict environments, rebuilding the police should take into account the communities’ needs in order to build legitimacy for the institutions of government. This paper seeks to fill the gap of evaluation in the field of police reform efforts by answering the following questions: How should international actors think about police reform efforts in a subordinate, non-juridical and only partially empirical state, and what role do the monitoring and evaluation of police reform efforts play?



Local Ownership and Security Sector Reform

Over the past two decades, in response to the underwhelming results of international development efforts across the Third World, arguments concerning the importance of local ownership have been gaining currency within the international development community. This book dwells on the concept of local ownership and the challenges it faces in SSR practice in terms of implementation and donor-national stakeholder relations. Finally it  adds a number of case studies that exemplify these issues.  


Entry-points to Palestinian security sector reform

Security sector reform is at the top of the Palestinian reform agenda. Palestinians want effective and accountable security forces that respond to their security needs. For them, security sector reform is also necessary to advance Palestinian state-building. However, many political organizations and socio-economic challenges make change slow and difficult. Donors sometimes seek to influence the reform process in a direction that serves their own interests and overlooks Palestinian needs. This book gives a voice to the Palestinians, the intended beneficiaries of security sector reform. Palestinian security experts and practitioners propose concrete changes in the legal framework, the structure of the security forces, the mechanisms for oversight and accountability, and the management of armed groups. By highlighting various entry-points for security sector reform, this collection of Palestinian perspectives is a contribution to a better understanding of Palestinian needs and of the dire


Security Sector Transformation in Southeastern Europe and the Middle East

For most countries, security today is primarily measured in non-military terms and threats to security are non-military in nature. These threats include incompetent government, corruption, organized crime, insecure borders, smuggling (weapons, drugs, contraband, people), illegal migration, ethnic and religious conflict, proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, shortage of natural resources (e.g., water) and, of course, terrorism. As security is no longer just a military concern, it is no longer just the preserve of MODs and MFAs which have, to date, been the main ministries involved in security cooperation. It is no longer possible to draw a clear distinction between external security and internal security. Security henceforth requires the coordination of the 'external' ministries (i.e., MOD and MFA) and their agencies (armed forces, intelligence services) with those of the 'interior' ministries: internal affairs, education, finance, overseas development, transport, environment; health, etc., with their agencies (policing forces, security services, disaster relief agencies, etc.). Security today takes in social development and demands the involvement of all elements of society in a way which security in the Cold War days did not. Meeting these new security requirements demands fundamental reform of national structures, patterns of investment, and systems of government. Likewise it demands the evolution of international institutions on a truly radical scale.


Peacebuilding and police reform

Reforms of local police forces in conflict or post-conflict areas need to be dealt with in order to create a certain level of security for the local people. This volume presents the discussions of professionals in the field of peacekeeping, civilian police activities and police reform, both academics and practitionaers, on the issue of internationally assisted police reform in transitions from war to peace. Contributions include theoretical insights and informed case studies from El Salvador and Guatamala, the Balkans, West Bank and Gaza, and Mozambique and South Africa.