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    Publication Year: 2010


    Yaacov Bar-siman-Tov

    This is an executive summary of a book that presents ground-breaking, original research; it presents the efforts of Israeli researchers, from a large number of disciplines, to re-examine the barriers to the resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. This volume focuses on the unique characteristics of the conflict that give rise to the unique barriers – structural, strategic, political, psychological, historical, cultural and religious – that prevent or hinder its resolution. The barriers to peace described in this volume are set in the deeper strata of the conflict – national identity, values, belief systems, historical narratives, and collective memory – and they underscore the fundamental differences between the two sides with regard to their understanding of both the conflict, in terms of its characteristics and components, and of the possibilities for its resolution. Although these barriers have been addressed before in academic publications, they have never before been assembled so as to provide a comprehensive picture that reflects the complexity of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The novelty of this research volume can be found in its endeavor to suggest ways for overcoming the barriers to the resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict with a view to promoting a settlement.

    History of the Conflict

    The peace process since the Oslo negotiations of 1993 had raised great hopes that an agreement would be achieved in a foreseeable future. This process, however, failed. Later approaches, unilateral steps like the withdrawal from Gaza or the Annapolis round of talks did not bring a peaceful solution any closer either. Today the question is less: “What is the solution to this complicated conflict?”  The conflict is old enough to have produced a series of theoretical solutions. This problem has been discussed enough over the decades; a variety of solutions including all the technicalities have been developed. Today the question is rather: “What prevents the actors from taking the necessary steps to lead to a solution? Why is the negotiation process not going ahead, or why is there not a new negotiation process getting into motion?”

    Types of barriers to the conflict

    These barriers can be strategic, structural or psychological. Strategic barriers relate to security risks involved in making peace in cases where the parties are required to make concrete concessions (territorial, for instance).  Structural barriers are shaped by the internal political structures of the negotiating parties. Structural barriers create institutional and bureaucratic constraints that undermine the legitimacy of the peace process and its conditions, costs and benefits. Psychological barriers are cognitive, emotional or motivational barriers that are centered around national narratives and collective memories which hinder any changes in belief systems and attitudes towards the other side or towards the conflict.

    A breakdown of the book

    This volume is composed of three main sections. The first section, consisting of four chapters, is dedicated to a discussion of psychological and sociological barriers to peace. The second section, which consists of five chapters, is concerned with barriers to peace that are rooted in Israeli and Palestinian narratives, values, culture, religion and perception of time. The third section, composed of three chapters, discusses substantive, strategic, political and legal barriers to peace.