PrefaceMore than ever, we all realize how exposed the Middle East peace process is. The peace process is vulnerable, prone to setbacks, being simultaneously assailed from many sides. But it is also resilient. The peace process survives in spite of the heavy odds stacked against it, because there is no realistic and viable alternative. The level of activities in, as well as the spirit of, the Refugee Working Group in the Multilateral Peace Process in the Middle East, testify to the fact that discussions will not be broken off but will continue even in moments of crisis. "Finding Ways" is offered by FAFO as a contribution to ongoing reflections in the RWG on the situation of Palestinian refugees in the region.
The new study, "Finding Ways", is different from the sample surveys that FAFO has conducted earlier. Both "Palestinian Society" ( 1993) and "Responding to Change"(1994) were quantitative studies based on a representative sample of Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank. The main aim of "Finding Ways" has been to describe different coping strategies of Palestinian families living as refugees, using a qualitative approach. The geographic scope of "Finding Ways" reflects a broader political concern, namely that the plight of refugees outside the West Bank and Gaza should not be forgotten as Palestinian self-rule is implemented. Since the signing of the Declaration of Principles in Washington September 13, 1993, international attention has increasingly been directed to include Palestinians living outside the West Bank and Gaza.
"Finding Ways" is based on fieldwork in four sites: the Rashiddiya refugee camp in South Lebanon, the Askar camp in the West Bank, the Whidat and Baqa'a camp in Jordan, and Palestinian neigbourhoods in Amman. Through case studies we hope to capture some of the dynamics of social and economic adaptation in the different camps and countries. We have chosen to focus on decision making units, the formal relation to the host-society, the construction of community and economic adaptation.
"Finding Ways" would not have been possible without support from numerous individuals and institutions in the area. Special thanks go to the Palestinian families who extended their hospitality and openness to the FAFO researchers during fieldwork. The Palestinian field-assistants and translators have a major share in the end result.
Our thanks are also extended to the Jordanian Government for its support for and keen appreciation of the project. We are indeed grateful for the many useful comments to the draft report at the expert intersessional meeting in Oslo in October 1994, from Dr. Ahmad Katanani, Adviser to the Prime Minister and Mr. Abdul Karim Abul Haija, Director of Information and Public Relations Department of Palestinian Affairs.
Let me also express our gratitude to the PLO for its continuing support of our work. We are fortunate in having a close working relationship with Dr. Salim Tamari and Professor Eliah Zureik. Their comments have, as always, been critical and constructive and it is our hope that it will be possible to follow up some of their proposals in a new study on this topic.
In Israel, Middle East Coordinator Daniel Nevo and Dr. Zvi Eisenbach at the Israeli Central Bureau of Statistics, have once again been of valuable help. Their advice has definitelycontributed to an improved end product.
Support from the UN system, and UNRWA in particular, has been highly appreciated. We are grateful for useful discussions during fieldwork with research officer Lee O'Brien, and for support from personnel at UNRWA Headquarters in Vienna, in particular Special Advisor to the Commissioner-General, Yves Besson.
We are grateful that the Royal Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs took a special interest in the project, providing full funding for the project. Warm thanks go to the Middle East desk at the Foreign Ministry: Special Coordinator for Middle East Affairs, Ambassador Rolf Trolle Andersen, Minister Counselor Hans Fredrik Lehne, Deputy Director General Rolf Willy Hansen and Executive Officer Unni Kløvstad.
"Finding Ways" is the result of assistance from a multitude of sources, and an impressive and collective effort by the five authors of the report: Research Director Jon Pedersen, researchers Signe Gilen, Are Hovdenak, Rania Maktabi and Dag Tuastad. They all worked with vigour and thoroughness, and managed to write a fascinating first account of Palestinian coping strategies. They were helped by useful comments and suggestions from Professor Fredrik Barth and Professor Unni Wikan, both of the University of Oslo.
"Finding Ways" will best serve its purpose if it contributes to an open debate among researchers and policy makers. Let me also emphasize that though we fully appreciate the comments and advice we have received, the substantive content, including the assessments in "Finding Ways" are of course the sole responsibility of FAFO.
Geir O. Pedersen
Centre for International Studies, FAFO
Oslo, November 1994