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Understanding Conflict. Application of a Conflict Model To the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict. A Model for Understanding Conflict. First, determine who is involved in the conflict

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Understanding Conflict

Application of a Conflict Model

To the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

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A Model for Understanding Conflict

  • First, determine who is involved in the conflict

  • Second, determine the nature of the conflict, including whether the major goals of the combatants are mutually exclusive

  • Third, determine how the problem emerged

  • Fourth, determine whether it has changed

  • Fifth, determine the options for resolution

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Who is involved in the conflict?

  • Players in starring roles

    • The Israeli State and the Israeli people

    • The Palestine Liberation Organization & the Palestinian people

  • Players in supporting roles

    • The United States and the American people

    • Jewish people in the Diaspora

    • Arab States and Arab people, some Europeans

  • Combatants and Referees

    • Confusion over the role of the United States

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The Nature of the Conflict

  • At its core, the Palestinian-Israeli conflict is about the claims two peoples have for the same piece of land

  • The views of the conflict and potential resolutions have changed over the generations

  • Today, most scholars of the problem recognize that neither side can have all the land, that some kind of two state solution will eventually have to occur

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Origins of the Conflict

  • Until World War I Palestine was simply a province within the Ottoman Empire

  • After the war, the League of Nations created Mandates in the eastern Mediterranean

    • France controlled Lebanon & Syria

    • Britain controlled what became Iraq and Jordan as well as the area then known as Palestine

    • Lebanon, Syria, Jordan & Iraq become independent countries between the World Wars

    • Palestine was more complicated because two of groups had what they regarded as legitimate reasons to be there

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Zionist claims & creationOf the State of Israel

  • Expulsion of Jews by Romans in the first century—The Diaspora

  • Jews living as a minority in the Diaspora

  • History of atrocities

    • Anti-Semitism generally

    • Spanish inquisition

    • Russian pogroms

    • The Holocaust

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Early 20th Century Palestine

  • End of the Ottoman Empire

  • Rise of nationalism globally

  • Rise of Zionism in Europe

  • Ties of Judaism to Jerusalem & environs

  • Beginnings of Arab nationalism

  • Jewish presence in Palestine, particularly Jerusalem

  • Jewish Agency buying land

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Palestine in World War I

  • Balfour Declaration:

  • "His Majesty's Government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavours to facilitate the achievement of this object, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine, or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country."

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League of Nations Mandates

  • After the First World War, the League of Nations recognized France and Britain as Mandatory Powers

    • France

      • Lebanon

      • Syria

    • The United Kingdom

      • Iraq

      • Transjordan

      • Palestine

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Nation Building

  • In the interlude between the wars, creating independent, sovereign states was relatively easy for

    • Lebanon, with a political rapprochement among the various groups

    • Syria, with an emerging Arab nationalism

    • Iraq, created from three Ottoman provinces & with a Hashemite king

    • Transjordan, also with a Hashemite king

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Growing Tension in Palestine

  • Jewish settlement continued under the British

    • Buying of land, some converted to kibbutz & moshav agricultural settlements—making the desert bloom

    • Concentrated where few Arabs lived

  • Rising anxiety among the Palestinians

    • Zionists were well funded, well armed—and with the Holocaust, increasingly desperate & committed

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British capitulation, UN partition

  • UK announced it would leave May 15, 1948

  • UN, in an impossible situation, proposed a partition

  • This was a dream come true for Zionists, a sovereign home of their own

  • It was totally unacceptable to the Palestinians

    • Why should the world’s Jewish Problem be solved on our backs?

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Israeli arguments

We need a safe haven

This should be it

God gave it to us

We make the desert bloom

Palestinian arguments

This is our land, our country

It should not be divided

We have lived here for centuries if not millennia, giving us the legal claim

The Issue in 1948: 1 land or 2?

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Declaration of the State of Israel

  • 15 May 1948, Zionist leaders declare the existence of the State of Israel

  • Very quick recognition by both the USA & USSR

  • State of war declared by Arab neighbors

  • Better prepared Israelis win

  • Transjordan (now Jordan) takes the West Bank; all the rest to Israel

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Incredible achievement for the Zionists

Their own country

The Law of Return

Private investment

Foreign aid

Concern to protect their people, territory, future

Incredible catastrophe for Palestinians

Loss of land and life


Million plus refugees

Outrage at their fate and the disinterest in the world at the injustice done to them


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Series of Wars

  • 1956, partly over control of Suez

  • 1967, with Israel gaining control over Sinai, Gaza, the West Bank and Golan Heights

    • Key change: Israeli settlements in the West Bank and Gaza

  • 1973 Yom Kippur War

  • 1982-3 war with forces in Lebanon

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Widespread recognition of need for a two state solution

  • The status quo maintained a state of war within the region

  • Many agreed that eventually there would be two states because the world would not let either side annihilate or expel the other

  • Problems: finding trust after so much violence; so many on both sides still want everything and will use violence to torpedo peace

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Changing Nature of the Conflict

  • Gradually, SOME (MOST?) Arabs came to accept the reality of Israel

  • Sadat, Begin & Carter bring peace between Israel & Egypt

  • Many Arabs recognize that violence will not drive Israel into the sea

  • Many Israelis & Arabs recognize that peace would be a better path

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Dilemma for Israel

  • Can Israel be the kind of place it wants to be within defensible boundaries?

  • Can it simultaneously

    • Be a Jewish State

    • Be a democratic state

    • Keep the boundaries it now has or something close to them

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Dilemma for Palestinians

  • What is the minimal amount of land that will work?

  • Which particular pieces of land are absolutely necessary?

  • Will there be enough land for the Palestinians living as refugees or as part of their own Diaspora?

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Serious Problems to be Resolved

  • Can each side ever trust the other, given settlements, military oppression and assassinations on one side and terrorist attacks on the other?

  • Also

    • Water

    • Jerusalem & the holy sites

    • Settlements

    • Right to return

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Someday: a 2 state solution

  • Someday, somehow, there will be a two state solution

  • The broad outline is known

  • Will the participants, major and minor, show enough will at the same time to resolve the conflict so the cycle of killing can stop?

  • When peace comes, it will be the major travel destination in the world!