The Psychological Dimension Of The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

This is the first of 10 articles that will address how the psychological dimension of Israeli-Palestinian conflict has and continues to impact every conflicting issue between the two sides and what can be done to mitigate these psychological impediments to reach an agreement based on a two state solution.

On the surface, the lack of progress in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process seems illogical and unsettling. After all, each side accepts the inevitability of coexistence and presumably understands the general parameters of a negotiated peace agreement: a two-state solution based on the 1967 border with land swaps that keep the major settlement blocks under Israel’s sovereignty, Jerusalem would remain a united capital of two-states, and the vast majority of Palestinian refugees would be compensated and remain in their countries of residence or resettle in the newly-created Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. These fundamental Imperatives, coupled with appropriate security guarantees for Israel, represent what has been on the table at the conclusion of numerous rounds of negotiations in the past decades, with each round coming closer to finalizing an agreement, yet ultimately failing to do so. The question is: why?

The answer lies far beyond the physical concessions on the ground and is deeply embedded in the psychological dimensions of the conflict, which impact every conflicting issue between the two parties. It is the mindset, nurtured over more than nine decades, that allows the individuals and the groups, Israelis and Palestinians alike, to perceive and interpret the nature of the discord between them in a biased and selective way. In turn, this stifles and inhibits any new information that could shed new light on the situation and help advance the peace process. In principle, such a mindset prevents either side from entertaining new ideas that might lead to compromises for a peaceful solution. Thus, to mitigate the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, we must first carefully look into the various elements that inform the psychological dimensions of the conflict and discuss how they may impact the relationship between the two sides and what it would take to alleviate these psychological impediments as prerequisites to finding a solution to the conflict.

February 9, 2012 Read more

Turkey: Reconciling Between Israel And Hamas

While the representatives of Israel, the Palestinian Authority and the Quartette (the US, EU, Russia and the UN) were recently hosted in Amman, Jordan, in an effort to revive the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, Turkey’s Prime Minister Erdogan met in Ankara with Hamas’ Prime Minister, Ismail Haniya, who openly remains committed to Israel’s destruction and opposes any peace negotiations with Israel. This does not suggest that Mr. Erdogan’s support of Hamas’ position is against Israeli-Palestinian peace, but this raises the question as to whether or not Mr. Erdogan is willing to play a constructive role in mitigating the Israel-Hamas discord or whether he will continue to shore up Hamas’ obstructionist position to the detriment of Israeli-Palestinian peace.

January 16, 2012 Read more

The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict: Imperatives And Choices

For more than two decades I have been involved as a researcher, writer and as a back-channel interlocutor in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The question that has puzzled me as well as the multitude of observers, researchers and even those directly involved in the peace negotiations is why, after 64 years of blood and toil, successive Israeli governments and Palestinian authorities have failed to find a solution when, in fact, peaceful co-existence based on a two-state solution is the only sane choice.


January 13, 2012 Read more

The Settlers’ Movement Is A Threat To Peace And Israel’s Existence

The attack of hard-line Jewish settlers on an Israeli military base in the West Bank must not be seen as a passing incident that can simply be eradicated by punishing the perpetrators, as Prime Minister Netanyahu said in the Israeli Parliament. This dangerous and most deplorable incident is a byproduct of the continuing settlement policies that Netanyahu and his hard-core coalition partners have zealously been pursuing for the past three years. Netanyahu condemns the attacks on individual settlers while such policies continue to focus on the rapid expansion of the settlements, further strengthening the settlers’ movement, which, for all intents and purposes, has acquired a de-facto veto power over policies affecting the future disposition of the West Bank.

January 9, 2012 Read more

Forceful Measures Needed Now To Avoid An Attack On Iran

The United States and its allies and Israel in particular are in a dire race against time as Iran moves closer and closer to acquiring nuclear weapons. While many peaceful and punitive measures to extinguish Tehran's nuclear ambitions have been taken by the international community, they have fallen far short of stemming Iran's nuclear weapons program. The only way that Iran can be deterred from acquiring nuclear weapons is if it faces the most crippling sanctions and should that fail, Iran must be fully convinced that the US and/or Israel will attack its nuclear facilities. That is, after exhausting all other options, if the United States wants to avoid a military attack on Iran – with all of its unintended consequences – it must visibly and unambiguously be preparing for such an attack.

Unfortunately, Iran and much of the world remain unconvinced that the United States is able or even willing to institute those sanctions necessary to end Iran's burgeoning nuclear program and do not believe at this point that a strike against Iran by the US is a credible possibility. What can then be done to stop Iran's nuclear program and avoid the military option (which is the most desirable outcome)? There are six options already taken but which have not yet proven to be effective, yet each can be substantially improved upon. To that end, the United States and the international community must establish the following: a) a time-frame during which non-military options are exhausted but will not give Iran sufficient time to reach "the point of no return"; and b) by exercising all options simultaneously with fortitude atypical to the machinations of foreign policy to convince Iran of the potential of a credible attack by the United States and/or Israel.

December 19, 2011 Read more

Assad’s Demise, Iranian Shadows

Unlike any other Arab country, Syria holds the key to several conflicts in the Middle East. The future of the Iran-led "resistance block" (along with Syria, Hezbollah, and Hamas), stabilization in Iraq, the conflict with Israel, as well as Turkey's "new eastern policy" all depend on what will happen in Syria in the wake of the ongoing uprising. Now, after eight months of protests, with thousands of people killed, tens of thousands arrested and no end in sight, what can be done to stop the carnage and inhibit, if not end, Iran's direct intervention to keep Assad in power and extricate Tehran from Damascus through a regime change? A general look at the scene suggests six major elements that characterize the current situation in Syria which make it unlikely for Syria's President Assad to stay in power.

November 22, 2011 Read more

The Irony Of Netanyahu’s “Success Story”

It is ironic how those loyal to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu have created a narrative of a success story of Netanyahu's achievements where failure is clearly rampant. They point to the solidity of the governing coalition, the halting of the Gaza flotillas, the failure of the Palestinian UN gambit, the release of Gilad Shalit, the expansion of settlements and the standing ovation from Congress, all while defiantly opposing any of the peacemaking moves proposed by President Obama.

For Netanyahu's supporters this is success when in fact the precise opposite is true. Israel is more isolated in the international community than ever before, its relations with allies have been frayed, it faces unprecedented threats from Iran and its proxies, and an uncertain regional security environment has emerged in full force. Meanwhile inequality and soaring costs of living throughout the country have brought masses to the streets. To be sure, for the safety and security of Israel and its future as a democratic State, Netanyahu's record is disastrous. His achievements are nothing short of utter defeat for Israel as a country and the Israelis as a people, making the nation appears increasingly like a pariah state.

November 14, 2011 Read more

Israel And Hamas: In the Wake of the Prisoners Exchange

The prisoner swap in which Hamas released Israeli captive Gilad Shalit in exchange for 1,027 Palestinian prisoners in Israeli prisons suggests that Israel and Hamas recognize each other's unmitigated reality and prerogatives. The deal was unquestionably motivated by mutually beneficial political calculations made on both sides, including a desire to overshadow President Abbas' efforts to seek UN recognition of a Palestinian state, to which Hamas and Israel object. 

October 25, 2011 Read more

Egypt And Israel: Within The Realm Of Possibilities

Over the past few weeks, Egypt and Israel have reached the lowest point in their relations in thirty years of peace. The attack in Eilat and Israel's killing of eight Egyptian policemen on the Sinai border led to a diplomatic blame game that was only exacerbated by the Egyptian mob attack on the Israeli Embassy in Cairo in early September.

October 13, 2011 Read more
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