Arab-Israeli Conflict Research Proposal

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¶ … establishment of the Israeli State and the long subsequent series Arab-Israeli wars over it has been at the heart of Middle Eastern conflict over six decades. The fundamental conflict between Israel and the Palestines displaced by the first offensive Arab attacks on the nascent Israeli state continues to fuel tensions throughout the entire region. Unlike many other conflicts that eventually reach a peaceful settlement, the intractable conflict over the Palestinian refugee issue has developed into a continuous cycle of violence that is not leading towards any agreement or peace. Complex issues of identities, fulfillment of basic needs, nationalism, religious zeal, and cultural differences have compounded the problem.

The various influences demand an objective analysis and a philosophical approach to laying groundwork for stability brokered by the Quartet with appropriate lessons learned from past initiatives such as the Oslo Accords and Camp David Peace Talks. That analysis must also address the involvement of Hamas and the effect of their emergence on the conflict, as well as the role of Syria as an external stakeholder in the conflict. Finally, a comprehensive analysis must also address other current challenges towards establishing peace between Israel and Palestine, and present a productive outlook on future efforts to resolve the conflict.

ARAB-ISRAELI CONFLICT AS AN INTRACTABLE CONFLICT

Generally, intractable conflicts of international affairs are characterized by common defining characteristics. Such conflicts may transpire between nation states, factions, and individuals, and typically resist any attempts at peaceful mitigation. The Arab-Israeli conflict is merely one contemporary example of conflict that has persisted both internally and externally, and evolved into a self-perpetuating cycle in which both sides share vested interest in prolonging its existence.

The repercussions of the continuation of the Arab-Israeli conflict has been felt on both the macro and micro levels of the international community. Any successful conflict resolution of the Arab-Israeli conflict will be complex and intricate and comprehension and management of the key issues is necessary to prevention of further escalation.

Armed aggression is perceived as unavodibale on both sides. Israel's identity has always been an armed struggle for survival. Without a decisive military advantage, Israel could not have lasted into the 21st century. Years of war and violent attack from Arab neighbors have necessitated the Israeli mindset into the use of military force to preserve national security. Palestinians perceive the need for a continual struggle for concessions with hopes of achieving self sovereignty without which they lack formal political channels to negotiate with Israel. Their disadvantaged position and their indoctrination with hatred generates violence and with every concession, their reliance oo violence as a viable tool is only reinforced. Israel's withdrawal from the Gaza Strip precipitated by conflict with Hamas, for just one example, was viewed as a "victory for armed resistance."

Israel perceives itself as having exhausted every other tool leaving no choice but increased violence, prolonging the conflict into an intractable state.

PEACE EFFORTS (BELIEFS vs. PERCEPTIONS)

Palestinian perceptions towards the conflict are increasingly hostile, causing greater divisions within the society. Whereas a joint Israeli-Palestinian public opinion poll taken in 2005 suggests that the majority of Palestinians were in favor of ending the conflict, the same poll revealed that armed resistance was widely perceived as effective against Israel. In the poll 65% of the Palestinians were in support of a compromise ending the conflict, yet "82% of the Palestinians saw the evacuation of the Israeli settlements from Gaza as a victory for the Palestinian armed struggle against Israel."

Likewise, the failure of the Oslo Accords and subsequent second Intifada has caused the Palestinians to perceive violence as an effective means for negotiation with Israel.

Palestinians are also politically divided, hindering any general consensus on how to deal with Israel and to govern themselves. Palestine's political parties are divided across the ideological axioms of Islam, Nationalism, and Marxism. Parties such as Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad perceive Palestine as an Islamic State and are determined to institute Islamic Law. The Nationalist movement led by Fatah, dominated Palestinian politics until very recently. Their goal was the complete "liberation of Palestine," and the establishment of an independent democratic state. The Marxist parties include the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP), and the Palestinian People's Party (PPP). While the Marxist movement has not been able to overcome the Nationalistic or Islamic movements, they are open to negotiations with Israel toward the establishment of a state in which both Palestinians and Jews can live together.

Several prevailing perceptions have permeated society in both Israel and Palestinian territories which reflect bias on both sides. Since these perceptions have been deeply ingrained into the cultural mindsets, they are unlikely to change unless Arab and Israeli leaders lead the way and promote a mindset that is more conducive negotiating a lasting peace. In order to accomplish this, leaders on both sides must first disavow the notion that they can "have it all" and understand that concessions will have to be made.

Geopolitical changes in the region have created an opportunity to negotiate a lasting peace between Israel and Palestine that has not existed since 1948.

Meanwhile, the Hamas victory lent considerable credence to the claim that Palestinians are "violent" and support "terror."

"PEACEBUILDING ISLANDS"

Due to the costliness, length, and propensity for escalation of violence, the intractable conflict in Israel has beenprofoundly resistant to conflict mitigation, yet it must be resolved through peaceful means. Several attempts at ending the protracted conflict within the Mideast have proven unsuccessful but various "Peace Building Islands" do exist within Israel's borders today. These bastions of hope highlight plausible peaceful resolutions and cross psycho-social, economic, and educational barriers preexistent within Israel today.

The creation of the co-op village of "Neve Shalom," near the town of Latrun in Israel, is one of these Peace Building Islands. Built in the early 1970's for Palestinian and Jewish citizens, it is one effort designed to demonstrate that Arabs and Israeli's can indeed live together peacefully.

It boasts a population of approximately 170 families and is democratically governed and jointly owned by Arabs and Israelis; its community holds no political party affiliation. The village members dwell upon its founding creed of communal acceptance, mutual respect, tolerance, and collaboration in establishing its community projects. Two of these projects are the village's humanitarian relief program, aimed at assisting Palestinian villagers overcome by the ongoing conflict, and the establishment of its exceptional "School for Peace."

The School for Peace is another resolution tool implemented through educational programs aimed at promoting Arab-Israeli understanding and community outreach through cultural and social relations. The school offers varying levels of education in bi-national and bilingual curriculum, communal projects, and offers training programs and workshops to students, teachers, and professionals from the village and local communities. Its main purpose is to educate Arabs and Israelis in developing and reinforcing critical thinking skills and identifying those regressive mechanisms prevalent in both societies that serve to perpetuate the ongoing conflict.

A third attempt at conflict mitigation of the Arab-Israeli predicament is the establishment of localized anti-war groups such as the "Combatants for Peace" created in 2005. Composed of both Arab and Israeli war veterans including former Israeli Defense Force soldiers and Palestinian fighters.

Their platform is that the Arab-Israeli conflict can only be resolved through nonviolent joint efforts aimed at ceasing hostilities between the Palestinians and Israelis. Some of the group's goals include educating and promoting non-violent struggle, creating political pressure on both political party leaderships, and resuming productive dialogue. In addition to sponsoring several public forums at universities and schools, they also support meetings for victims of violence, they participate in re-building homes destroyed in the ongoing conflict, and conduct relief effort convoys to the Gaza strip.

QUARTET STRATEGIES FOR PEACE

The decline of social and economic factors during the Oslo process exacerbated Palestinian frustrations ultimately leading to their acceptance of violent extremists "at the forefront of Palestinian politics"

. While the failure of the Oslo Accords and Camp David peace talks was the primary influence on the second Intifada, the escalation of violence during the second intifada forced Israel into an even greater defensive posture and necessitated a military response. Whereas the first Intifada led to emerging peace talks between Israel and Palestine, the second gave rise to the factional politics that shape the Palestinian political landscape today and pose an even greater obstacle to the peace process

. In the Annapolis peace talks, Israel has demanded that the Palestines be a cooperative partner in the peace process as a prerequistite for negotiations.

The two main focuses of the 2008 Annapolis Conference were the International Quartet's 2002 Road Map and permanent status negotiations leading to a peace agreement by the end of 2008.

Israel will make no concessions without execution of the Road Map. Therefore, if the Palestinians wish to realize their goal of Statehood, they must first eradicate the militant factor that continues to use terrorist tactics in attempt to realize their goals… [END OF PREVIEW]

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