The Israeli-Palestine conflict has been an unprecedented one because one of the participants had lost its sovereignty over 2,000 years ago and its people been scattered around the world but returned to their homeland for varying reasons, with an intention to regain their heritage and sovereignty. On the opposing side is a nation, strongly supported by its allies in the region, and it considers itself the sole sovereign beholder of the contested land. Thus, it should not under relinquish it under any circumstances. These facts imply that the Israeli-Palestine conflict is beyond being a rather common border dispute between countries since it is about the legitimate occupation of a piece of land between Israel and Palestine. This conflict has attracted the attention of nations from all over the world to an extent that it seems to precipitate a conflict between alliances. Ever since the Israeli-Palestine conflict had led to an open battlefield confrontation between the Israeli Jews and the Palestine Arabs over half a century ago, numerous resolution measures and negotiations through diplomatic and peaceful means have been tried but with very little success because this conflict is structurally asymmetric in nature.
The Israel-Palestine Conflict: A Structurally Asymmetric Conflict
The fact that the conflict in question is structurally asymmetric is something that all negotiating parties should realize, accept, and agree to. The relationship between Israel and Palestine lies at the root of this conflict. The definition of a structurally asymmetric conflict clearly states that the root cause of a conflict cannot be tied to a pertinent issue or issues that may be divisive to its participants. Instead, the root cause should be sought in the structure of the parties involved and how these parties relate. Palestine and Israel have been in a fight over the occupation of a region that both consider their political state and their homeland, but their differences in military and economic strength as well as the alliances, supporting either side of the conflict, elucidate a stark power imbalance between them. This power imbalance is responsible for the culmination of the conflict into a war as the weaker group resorts to guerrilla warfare and terrorism in an attempt to combat the influence and dominance posed by the stronger nation. After the First World War (WWI), Palestine was placed under the British mandate that was ended on May 15, 1948, by a UN General Assembly vote. Under the British mandate, the end of the conflict presupposed the partition of Palestine into a Jewish and an Arab state, which was favored by the Jews but which evoked significant dissatisfaction of the Palestinians (Arabs). Israel was considered to have imposed itself into Palestine and forced the Palestinians out of their cradle land. The Arabs saw the creation of the nation of Israel in Palestine as illegitimate, so they believed that Israel and other power brokers had imposed the Jewish state on their ancestral land due to their economic and military superiority.
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Past Efforts to Resolve the Conflict
The Six-Day War of 1967 culminated in the proper Palestinization of the conflict, resulting in unending warfare and negotiations. Eventually, a binding solution, which was supported by many if not all, was found after the Oslo secret talks. When the war ended and Israel took control of major contested areas, such as the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, and the Jordan Heights, political redefinitions started growing in the two circles, and the possibility of having a two-state solution was considered in the near future. Yasir Arafat was the head of the government in Palestine and the leader of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) that was in favor of having established Jewish and Arab states, with the Palestinian nation in control of the West Bank and Gaza. This repositioning of the Arab frontier resulted in an armed struggle, dubbed the West Bank and Gaza uprising (Intifada) in 1987. The uprising emerged out of the frustration that Palestine under Yasir Arafat had attempted to find a political solution to the standoff. In 1993, after all, interventions over the two decades of fighting and negotiations, a possibly lasting solution was found in a treaty, signed in Washington DC; its name was the Oslo agreement. An idea of recognizing each otherВ’s mutual identity and rights prevailed over the two parties. However, the Oslo Process still failed because there was a lack of commitment to the two-state formula that aimed at ending the negotiations and the conflict itself.
Reasons Why the Stalemate Persists
Political and Economic Reasons
Peace and solution to the Israeli-Palestine conflict will remain elusive because there is too much at stake economically and politically for the warring parties and even their negotiators. The USA has been a lead negotiator for a solution to this conflict, but this nation is known to the world as the closest ally to Israel, so it cannot be its attorney. Thus, this is a structural impediment to the resolution of the conflict. The presence of the USA as a negotiator for peace undermines the legitimacy of the process since it creates both institutional and bureaucratic chords in the desired solution. The negotiations’ intention for peace, its conditions, and the associated costs and benefits to be realized are viewed as the main driving motive behind the USAВ’s involvement. Political actors are opposed to peace for political as well as ideological reasons and they may oppose a solution, which compromises their national and security concerns and embrace the one they find favorable. This implies that one side would feel cheated to enter a treaty they feel has been arrived at by the parties with a conflict of interest.
Socio-Cultural and Strategic Reasons
The ideological belief systems in both participants of the conflict grounds and justify it, and these same belief systems remain unchanged. Thus, they have become a basis for the rejection of a compromised package of the pertinent issues underlying the conflict. Specifically, the Palestinians feel greatly victimized and delegitimized as the occupants of the Palestine land between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea. They are not inclined to compromise their occupation of the region in the two-state proposition even if Israel were to cede the control of the West Bank at least partially. Their belief system would never allow them to have the land split into two states. The intertwined religious, historical, and national dogma yields beliefs that partially the cause of the conflict, which makes their ideologies supportive of it. For the Arabs, backtracking on the issues, which they present as their grievances during negotiations and then being told to compromise them with Israel that seems to compromise nothing, does not feel like a positive result. Moreover, they would feel cheated.
The key players in finding a lasting solution to the issue are either unwilling to take action or lack the commitment to find it and end the stalemate. In 2000, after the Camp David Summit, US president Bill Clinton gave an address that is still interpreted as a pep talk. In 2012, the hyped reelection bid for President Barrack Obama seemed to have diverted the USA's attention from the process of resolving the conflict. Even with the media questioning Presidential candidates on the Israeli-Palestine conflict, the responses given were the only general commitment of the United States to resolving the conflict. Thus, to the nation and the political class was more important to have successful campaigns and elections. Other nations even seem unmoved by the happenings in the Middle East as they expect that the USA will handle the situation. After all, Israel is its best friend and closest ally.
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The perceived conflict of interest that the USA has as the leading third-party negotiator in the conflict could lead to an unprecedented tension between Palestine-allied nations and IsraelВ’s friends. For example, Turki Al-Faisal, the prince of Saudi Arabia, emphasized that in the case of such an arrangement to end the conflict, which was the creation of two separate nations, any security and political benefits realized would only be beneficial to the USA and its interests. The views expressed by Al-Faisal were the representation of the feelings of the entire Arab world in the Middle East, implying that the USA negotiated a deal for its own benefit. As a result of this observation, even if the deal were to be arrived at to create the nations of Israel and Palestine, none of the Arab neighbors to Israel in the region would cooperate with the latter. The Arabian Prince, Al-Faisal, has been quoted saying, "...Arabs will not cooperate with Israel so long as there is an occupation in Palestine..." Therefore, the fear of nations, affiliated with the conflict, that engages in open confrontations, trade accusations, and counter-accusations amid concerns about who would benefit, could be a deterrent to the attainment of a lasting solution.
Military and Prestige Reasons
The Palestinians continually become aggressive and violent, waging attacks on Israelis and on Israeli-controlled areas. These actions could be sabotage to a diplomatic resolution to the conflict. As mentioned earlier, in a structurally asymmetric conflict, the group that feels weak and threatened resorts to terrorism and guerrilla warfare, attempting to weakens its more powerful rivals. Unprovoked air strikes, bombings, and other acts of terror, which are committed by the Palestinians against Israel, as well as their public claims of a never existing peace between Israel and Palestine, are actions that are provocative enough to make or create hard lines, taken by the two sides of the conflict. These acts of terror and PalestineВ’s preference for war show a party that is not interested in making peace but is determined on provoking the other side to start a war. In 2012, Hamas made airstrikes in Gaza, and the Israeli were on the verge of full incursion into Gaza for total warfare; only the effort of the international community had managed to deter Israel from decisive actions. In this scenario, a lack of commitment to resolving the conflict lies with an involved party that continually tries to push another side to war. Thus, Palestine appears to be more committed to warfare than peace.
At the same time, Israel holds high self-esteem for its military strength and morality in the conflict. From previous Israeli incursions over Palestine and with the establishment of Israel as a political state, there has never been doubted of the fact that it has the military capacity to wage a war on Palestine more successfully than vice versa. Some Israeli Jews have even started believing that Israel can overpower all Arab nations in the Middle East. Such military assessments have led to the deduction that Israel has the internal fortitude to hold longer in the war than Palestine does. Thus, a second intifada does not seem to bring any harm to Israel. The country firmly believes in its military resilience, dominance, and strength over Palestine. Consequently, as a side of the conflict, Israel is highly demotivated to engage in talks with its perceived weak rival. Such accolades as the Israeli Defense Forces being the most moral ones in the world supports the confidence levels of Israel of surviving the status quo and enduring the conflict nonetheless. With such notions in mind and with a lack of commitment from the rival to resolve the conflict, Israel seems to be content with the current state of things because after all, it will pull through the violence, while Palestine will not.
Legal and Moral Reasons
Palestine’s inclusion of peace and justice in the conflict and its demand for a just peace as the only condition for resolving this standoff is a salient and irreducible minimum that will not lead to conflict resolution. Just peace in the region and in the conflict is literally unachievable, and Palestine is misguided in its demands for transitional and compensatory justice. Thus, it demands that Israel confesses to expelling Palestinians out of their homes. Moreover, it expects Israel to apologize and allow the Palestinians to return to their homes in Israel. These demands are based on Palestine-based narratives about the conflict, but other equally strong narratives from the Israeli side insist on the Jews being the original inhabitants of Palestine land. The fact that Palestinian just peace is grounded on its claims means that all historical injustices, raised in both sets of narratives, should be equally addressed. If this were to be a pragmatic solution, a stalemate within the conflict will arise, so no resolution will be achieved.
Palestine lacks a structured government or political system, let alone national borders. Therefore, it fails to front a national agenda or aim in the resolution process. Even before the Intifada, Israel was a structured nation with clear systems of governance steering a national interest in the resolution process. At the same time, PalestineВ’s agenda has always been channeled through militia and terror groups as well as anti-Israeli groups such as the PA, PLO, Hamas, and Al-Jihad. Some scholars even alleged that Arafat was a terrorist who negotiated for terrorist groups to have firm control over Palestine land. These terror groups had internal conflicts of their own; thus, they could not and would never be able to represent a national outlook for Palestine as a state. The impact that these groups have is increased warfare, hardline stands, and a dragged resolution process in the end. Had Palestine possessed a clear system of government, the negotiations would be more objective, rational, and achievable.
Ever since the Israeli-Palestine conflict led to open battlefield confrontation between the Israeli Jews and the Palestine Arabs over half a century ago, numerous resolution measures and negotiations have been tried through diplomatic and peaceful means. However, they have had very little success because the Israeli-Palestine conflict is structurally asymmetric in nature. A structurally asymmetric conflict implies that its root cause cannot be linked to some current issue or the problems that cause the conflict between the parties involved. Instead, this cause is the structure of the participating parties themselves as well as their relations. The relationship between Israel and Palestine causes the conflict. Thus, it has faced numerous impediments to its resolution. Peace and a solution to the Israeli-Palestine conflict are hard to be achieved since both sides have their economic and political interests to protect. Moreover, this concerns the negotiators as well. Both sides have absolutely different ideological belief systems that justify the conflict. Since they remain unchanged, they form a ground for the rejection of any solution that will lead to a compromise between both sides. Finally, the Israeli-Palestine conflict is in a stalemate because sides are either unwilling to take action or they lack any commitment to finding a lasting solution.