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United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research (UNIDIR)
31 January 2005
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Peace in the Middle East: P2P and the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict
Adel Atieh, Gilad Ben-Nun, Gasser El Shahed, Rana Taha and Steve Tulliu
By all accounts, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has proven highly intractable. Decades
of fighting and talking alike, have hardly managed to sway it off course. The general
devastation visited upon Israeli and Palestinian society by this condition is evident to all,
and in particular to the protagonists themselves. The benefit of peace between Israelis
and Palestinians hardly needs explaining.
Because of its longevity and deep societal impact, the settlement of intractable conflict
usually requires the mutual reconciliation of belligerents. At a minimum, within the context
of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, mutual reconciliation implies acceptance by Israelis and
Palestinians of the principle of peaceful coexistence based on the common recognition of
their national rights. This, in turn, entails a profound shift in national mentalities on both
sides, with war-supporting beliefs giving way to peace-favouring ones.
The signing of the Oslo Peace Accords between the government of Israel and the
Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) in 1993 and 1995 gave scope to a multitude of
people-to-people (P2P) programmes. Organized by local NGOs, these sought to
encourage Israelis and Palestinians to a better understanding of one another and
commence a process of mutual reconciliation. A decade after their initiation, the return
of violence together with the collapse of most P2P activities makes it clear that these
objectives have not been reached.
A result of UNIDIR’s Fellowship Programme, Peace eace in the Middle East: P2P and the
Israeli-P Palestinian alestinian Conflict Conflict, examines the failure of post-Oslo P2P activities and suggests
how these could be revamped. Illustrative examples of revised P2P programmes are
discussed in the areas of politics and the news media, followed by an inquiry into the
capacity of local NGOs to carry out such actions. A guideline of policy recommendations
closes the study.
UNIDIR, 2004, 54 p.
Sales number GV.E.05.0.2
US$ 17 (plus shipping and handling)