A person with certain values will usually feel more comfortable dealing with a person who carries values similar to his or hers. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict has been growing and building up to create more tension and problems between the two neighbors neglecting the common values that can be further recognized in the process of establishing peace between the two. The Israeli author, Sari Nusseibeh, tackles the aspect of the common values between the Israelis and the Palestinians in his book “What is a Palestinian state worth?” (2011). According to Nusseibeh, “the only way [all human being] can achieve a peaceful life and minimize conflict and violence” is by forcing themselves to believe and follow “a value system or a moral order [that they all can] agree upon” (Nusseibeh, 2011, p. 119).
Nusseibeh notes that the universal values are neglected in the Israel/Palestine peace process. This includes such values as forgiveness, tolerance, and co-existence. The author states that it is most important to realize that the identity way is too complex in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and it is vital for the people experiencing the conflict and its consequences to “focus on the human face” of the conflict that reveals their shared values (Nusseibeh, 2011, p. 123). It is important to summarize the origin of the conflict and examine the scholars’ proposals to end the conflict with references to their appropriateness in order to support the idea that although a variety of proposals exists, the conflict is too deep-rooted to be resolved as a result of mutual agreements or compromise policy.
To begin with, Israel, as a country built purely on the basis of religion, used it as the ideology to unite and strengthen the position of the Jewish people in Palestine. Before the well known Balfour Declaration, “Palestinians had had an organized local leadership hierarchy centered in Jerusalem” that prior to and during the Ottomans rule kept into consideration the Muslims, Christians, and Jews (Nusseibeh, 2011, p. 24). The most obvious origin of the conflict, however, was the statement of the Balfour Declaration that granted the emigrant Zionist Jews land within the lands of the Palestinian Arabs. The British and the Jewish people of Palestine hugely supported Zionism, which refers to a “movement for the re-establishment of a Jewish nation in Palestine” (Ovendale, 2004, p. 3). The Arab Jews were looking forward to overthrowing the Ottomans and get their Jewish brothers back. To a certain extent, the Arab Jews were hopeful that Zionism would provide them a better future in the Muslim dominated country. Nonetheless, once the Israeli state was formed, it became clear that religious ideology was a means with which they could satisfy a greater political interest. Since then, the tension levels between Israel and Palestine have been escalating, especially with the involvement of non-state actors and the obvious biases of international actors in solving the conflict.
One of the ways out, suggested by Tanya Reinhart in her book “Israel/Palestine: How to end the war of 1948” (2002), is by putting Israel under pressure and forcing them to withdraw from Palestinian lands, at least 90% of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, “for true negotiations to occur” (Reinhart, 2002, p. 226-227). She explains her argument by claiming that by doing so, the Palestinians would have a fair chance to “recover” and develop economically and politically to catch up with the Israelis (Reinhart, 2002, p. 228). Throughout the chapter, the author refers back to Lebanon and how the withdrawal of Israel from there was successful enough and, most importantly, immediate. In response to Reinhart, it is crucial to understand that the aim of the Israeli settlement in Lebanon is different from the reason for the settlement in Palestine. It is even possible to argue that the settlement in Lebanon was partially to serve their main interest in Palestine. Also, Israel believes that Palestine is theirs, and it would be, to a large extent, impossible to make them believe otherwise. Based on this belief and since it occupied Palestine, Israel started its journey of industrializing and institutionalizing their land. Another 12 years added to the time the author published her book to make Reinhart’s suggestion even blanker. Forcing the Israeli to leave behind all they have built is completely irrational and can be unfair. The process would not be as simple as Reinhart imagines it to be without any involvement of the Israel international allies.
Another way out from the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, as seen through the eyes of the Jewish scholar Amos Oz, is the two-state solution through the “virtue of inconsistency” (Oz, 1995, p. 125). According to Oz, the Palestinians and the Israelis are still living the aftermath of the war and, correspondingly, growing the tension levels as if they are still fighting the war. Oz believes that it is time to recognize that the war is over and that a compromise has to be made in order to establish peace. Nonetheless, “The work of diffusing the emotional minefields” between the two opponents cannot be achieved without two equivalent peace movement, from both sides, that aims to “[naturalize] the explosive range and bitterness within their own people” (Oz, 1995, p. 126). In response to Oz’s proposal, the idea of bringing and accepting each other is a specific one, and its consequences cannot be anticipated. If an idea came from a Palestinian, it might create a movement within the Palestinians that can be rejected by the great majority of Palestinians, creating further conflicts within the greater one. Similarly, in the case of Israel, the idea of co-existence might not be welcomed, for it threatens their own existence in their lands. Another question that can be raised from Oz’s proposal is whether a rigid civil society exists within Palestine and Israel.
In spite of the observed and noted barriers, the researchers continue to state that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict can be peacefully resolved if the public administrators from both countries can combine their efforts in order to demonstrate the ways of coping with the conflict. This idea is proclaimed by Salinas and Abu Rabia, who states that the years of frustrating conflict should be ceased because the citizens of contemporary Israel and Palestine need to live in a peaceful world instead of resolving the historical and political conflicts with the help of military techniques (Salinas & Abu Rabia, 2009, p. 25).
The researchers note that modern Israelis and Palestinians are oriented to winning “human security” instead of “military security” (Salinas & Abu Rabia, 2009, p. 19-24). Thus, the change is possible with the focus on the activities of public administrators. Although the researchers’ proposal sounds like an effective measure to achieve peace in the region, it is impossible to refer to this variant as the only method to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict because Israelis and Palestinians developed the political and military strategies to promote their interests in the region during the decades, and it is almost impossible to change the political course of both the states immediately. That is why the authors’ idea seems to be one more proposal that cannot overcome the barriers to peace.
Today, it is possible to choose among a variety of proposals on how to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in order to achieve the desired peace. However, the problem is in the fact that all the proposed solutions cannot be used to persuade Israel and Palestine to focus on the mutually agreed and effective solution. The conflict has deep historical roots, and it becomes more complicated each year (Zeedani, 2007, p. 104-106). As a result, the developed ways to resolve the conflict peacefully remain to be desired goals, but the opportunity to achieve the concrete results in the prolonged war is still illusory, and the signs of the possible peaceful resolution can be discussed as distant and subtle (Caruso & Klory, 2012, p. 2-3).
The obstacles which prevent both the parties to achieve peace in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict are the significant ideological and cultural differences between the citizens of Israel and Palestine; the different religious fundaments; the differences in values and principles; the developed political and military oppositions; and the impossibility to accept the rightness of this or that side because of the decades of the conflict development. From this point, the peace related to the resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict can be achieved only in the future, as a result of gradual changes in both states’ political courses.
In spite of the fact that historians, politicians, sociologists, and economists propose many different variants of overcoming the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and achieving peace in the region, none of these proposals can be discussed as relevant to address the real problem in the Middle East. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict has extremely deep historical and political roots, and its resolution should be based on the complex changes in the Israelis and Palestinians’ visions of themselves because the main problem is in the interpretation of the history and in different ideologies.
Caruso, R., & Klory, E. (2012). Political economy studies on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict: Introduction. Peace Economics, Peace Science, & Public Policy, 18(2), 1-9.
Nusseibeh, S. (2011). What is a Palestinian state worth? USA: Harvard University Press.
Ovendale, R. (2004). The origins of the Arab-Israeli Wars. USA: Pearson Longman.
Oz, A. (1995). Israel, Palestine and peace: Essays. USA: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.
Reinhart, T. (2002). Israel/Palestine: How to end the war of 1948. USA: Seven Stories.
Salinas, M., & Abu Rabia, H. (2009). Resolving the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict: Perspectives on the Peace Process. USA: Cambria Press.
Zeedani, S. (2007). Palestinians and Israeli Jews: Divide and share the land. Palestine-Israel Journal of Politics, Economics & Culture, 14(3), 104-109.