Albert Einstein is rumored to have said: “If I had an hour for solving a difficult problem I’d spend 55 minutes defining the problem and 5 minutes on the solution.”
The Arab – Israeli – Palestinian conflict is a problem that has claimed the lives of tens of thousands of people since the 1948 war (Heinsohn and Pipes, 2008; Jewish Virtual Library, 2017). The Israeli – Palestinian conflict is part of the Arab – Israeli conflict, and it is also a separate conflict.
Based on the Arab league initiative from 2002, which was endorsed in 2007 and re-endorsed in 2017, the Israeli – Palestinian conflict has been the strongest obstacle for peace between most of the Arab countries and Israel (Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 2002, Albasheir and Amr Mousa, 2007, “The Aman 2017 Arab League Declaration” 2017, JT 2017).
On January 12, 2017, three days before France hosted an Israeli-Palestinian peace conference with the participation of 70 international partners, the French Minister of Foreign Affairs said: “The absence of a peace process has given way to a deceptive status quo” ( Ayrault, 2017). A year earlier, on January 31, 2016, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu shared his frustration with the pressure on Israel to negotiate, quoting to the members of the Israeli security cabinet the then-French Foreign Minister saying: “If it does not succeed, then France will essentially adopt to a large degree the Palestinian position” (Keinon, 2016).
In the years since the 1967 War, there have been at least 12 serious official initiatives to solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, with the involvement of international entities (BBC News, 2013). None have been successful.
As Israel is a small country dependent on the international community, and especially on the United States, a healthy relationship with the international community is defined as a strategic goal by the Israeli Defense Force as well as by the Israeli Foreign Ministry (Eizenkot, 2015).
International pressure that may lead Israel to take unreasonable risks is a great Israeli concern (Netanyahu, 2014; Oren, 2016), but so is a head-on confrontation with the international community (Livni, Lapid, and Galon, 2016). How, then, does Israel play this complicated card?
At the Herzliya Conference, in June 2015, Ehud Barak, former Prime Minister of Israel, made the following statement:
“If you gathered all the former living chiefs-of-staff, the heads of the Central Command, the heads of the Israeli Security Agency (Shabak) and heads of military intelligence – 80-90 percent of them will tell you that the IDF will best be able to protect Israeli citizens from a recognized international border. To the claim that it is impossible to combine the security needs of Israel and a two-state solution, they will tell you – the opposite is true” (Barak, 2015)
A survey conducted by Molad, an Israeli independent research center, concludes that 50% of the Israelis believe that a Palestinian state, if formed, will be a serious threat to Israeli security (Molad, 2015 : 18-19)
Mahmud Darwish, the Palestinian poet, is quoted by Dr. Ahmed Tibi, the Palestinian Israeli Knesset member, of saying: “Two states is the realistic solution, one state is the fair solution” (Landsmann 2017). At the same time, Dr. Tibi concluded that realistically, the possibility of an independent Palestinian state next to an Israel, may be outdated, and the ‘one-state’ solution, in which the Palestinians and the Jewish people live together as equal citizens, is the realistic option, even though it may take generations to occur.
The expressions ‘conflict management’ and ‘conflict resolution’ are commonly used in the terminology of the conflict. Conflict management (Rahim 2002: 208) has been used by those who believe that the conflict is unsolvable in the near future, and therefore, the best that one can do is to manage the conflict until the circumstances change in order to reduce damages and risks. The expression ‘conflict resolution’ (Bercovitch and Jackson 2009:8) has been used by those who believe that the conflict is challenging but resolvable, and therefore the parties should actively negotiate to seek mutual agreed-upon solutions.
Diplomatic negotiators usually aim to resolve a conflict, assuming that the sides in conflict are rational actors who recognize the costs of war and so prefer peace (Kaufman 2006). But, can a negotiation process also be led as a conflict management tool? A negotiation effort without any intention of reaching an agreement? For example, negotiating for the sole sake of reducing the external pressure of the international community, or negotiating to reduce internal pressure of the voters, or negotiating for the sake of delaying escalation in hostile activities. (from a PhD Research of I. Kohavi ,2017).
We are going to provide updated insights on the conflict, on a regular base, including the most recent research articles and various creative opinions. Stay tuned.