Academic journal article Jewish Political Studies Review

Building the Positive Peace: The Urgent Need to Bring the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict Back to Basics

Academic journal article Jewish Political Studies Review

Building the Positive Peace: The Urgent Need to Bring the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict Back to Basics

Article excerpt

It is generally accepted that the peace process, launched in 1993, went off the tracks and failed to meet the expectations of the interested parties: the state of Israel, the Palestinian Authority, and the international community.

The international discourse plays down the historical depth of the dispute and everything which pertains directly to the Jewish religious, national, and cultural heritage that dates back more than three millennia in the Land of Israel. Also absent from the international discourse is an awareness of the rich academic and theoretical foundation of knowledge with regard to peacemaking. Concepts such as the positive peace, reconciliation, "ripeness," "stable peace"or "hurting mutual stalemate" have not been integrated into the discourse.

The condition of positive peace can be created when social justice mitigates structural and cultural violence. Cultural violence occurs when the political leadership of a movement or state incorporates continuous incitement to hatred and violence into a society's public discourse. In contrast to negative peace, positive peace is not limited to the idea of getting rid of something but includes the idea of establishing something that is missing and changing the societal and political structure.

A valid discussion of reviving the peace negotiations should adopt the goal of creating the positive peace and taking the necessary intermediate steps for its implementation. Otherwise, the presence of structural violence will occasion more physical violence, and cultural violence will provide both the justification and psychological infrastructure for its continued application.

The establishment of a Palestinian state which does not comply with the spirit of positive peace increases the chances of bringing into being one more failed and warlike state that would become a destabilizing force in the region. By inciting irredentist sentiment among its own population and the Arab citizens of Israel, it will endanger both Israel and Jordan. Instead of concentrating on state-building, it will become a subversive political entity that will continue to wage its long-standing political and military war against Israel, the Jewish state, and its citizens.

The concept of the "Positive Peace" belongs to the rich theoretical foundation of knowledge on peacemaking. According to the literature of conflict resolution, it has four basic components:

1. Mutual acceptance/recognition and reconciliation: in our context, reciprocity in the sense of accepting the national self-determination of each party to the conflict;

2. A sense of security and respect toward each community and nation;

3. Reciprocal relations and cooperation between nations, communities, and institutions;

4. Establishing dynamic and nonviolent processes to solve disputes and settle differences.1

Although, during the Oslo process, contemporaries did not use the language of peace studies, most of the parties concerned-with one notable exception-shared a basic vision of the type of peace the process was intended to bring about. During the early 1990s, the idea of the "Democratic Peace" held sway. Many maintained that democracies were peacefully inclined by nature, and therefore two neighboring democracies would not make war against one another. The Soviet Union had imploded not long before. A major wave of transitions to democracy in Eastern Europe took place in its stead, and it seemed that the momentum would spread to the Middle East and foster the building of civil society and the safeguarding of human rights.2 Academics and politicians also remembered the European model that Jean Monnet (1888-1979) had pioneered, which involved "transforming the mutual hatred of France and Germany into a web of interdependent relationships."3 Great optimism prevailed, and many expected that the new Palestinian entity would become the first Arab democracy possessing some of the features of modern "Western society. …

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