Panel 5d Revisiting the Israel-Palestine conflict: Missed opportunities, declassified documents and alternative narratives

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Chair: Professor Elie Podeh, Professor, Department of Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies, Hebrew University of Jerusalem

Paper 1: Missed Opportunities in the Arab-Israeli Conflict
Professor Elie Podeh, Professor, Department of Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies, Hebrew University of Jerusalem

Historians of the Arab-Israeli conflict often describe certain episodes as a “missed opportunity” to reach an agreement between Israelis and Arabs. The problem of these descriptions, however, is that the term “missed opportunity” is not defined. My research attempts to assess, on the basis of a new theoretical definition of the term, to what extent various opportunities had been missed to solve the conflict. The research focuses on some twenty case studies of negotiations and plans to promote peace between Israelis and Arabs since the beginning of the conflict. The lecture will concentrate on the newly-developed definition and apply it to several case studies, such as The Sadat Initiative of February 1971, the Israeli-Syrian negotiations in the 1990s, the Camp David summit in 2000, and the Arab Peace Initiative in 2002.

Paper 2: Israel’s Gesture of Goodwill: No Return to the West Bank for the June 1967 War Refugees
Dr Avi Raz, Research Fellow, University of Oxford

Relying on recently declassified records from Israeli, American, British and United Nations archives, and private papers in English, Hebrew and Arabic, this paper examines the case of the ‘new refugees’ of 1967, and focuses specifically on the so-called repatriation scheme which was carried out in August 1967. During the June war, some 200,000 Palestinians fled their homes in the West Bank and found refuge across the River Jordan in the East Bank.In the face of mounting international criticism and diplomatic the Israeli cabinet decided to permit repatriation of West Bankers during a very short time span. In reality, however, Israel did everything possible to limit the Palestinian return to a token number by creating numerous bureaucratic obstacles. As a result, only 14,000 out of 170,000 applicants eventually returned. Israel’s attitude, then, clearly attested to its intention to keep the West Bank, and ‘Operation Refugee’ was nothing but an attempt to obscure this. >> download the paper

Paper 3: Political Theology in Israel-Palestine: Liberation through Contextualisation in the Holy Land
Dr Samuel J. Kuruvilla, Post-Doctoral Fellow, School of International Relations and Politics, Mahatma Gandhi University

This paper concerns the development of a theology of Christian liberation and contextual polity as part of the Palestinian people’s struggle for justice and freedom from the state of Israel.. This paper will be primarily dedicated to a historical and political analysis of the theological context, mainly focusing on the theology of the Al-Liqa group that contributed to the development of a contextual Palestinian theology of liberation within the ‘occupied’ context that is Palestine today. This paper seeks to prove that practitioners of Palestinian Liberation/Contextual Theology have sought to respond practically to the needs of the Palestinian people in the West Bank, given the employment, socio-cultural and humanitarian-health opportunities opened up by the practical-institution building efforts of various organizations. >> download the paper

Paper 4: The Single State Alternative in Palestine/Israel
Cherine Hussein, PhD candidate in International Relations, University of Sussex

Since the Oslo Accords, the two-state solution has dominated, and frustrated, the official search for peace in Israel/Palestine. In parallel to it, an alternative struggle of resistance—centered upon the single state idea as a more liberating pathway towards justice to the conflict—has re-emerged against the hegemony of Zionism and the demise of a viable two-state solution in Israel/Palestine. This paper inquires into the nature of this phenomenon as a movement of resistance. It reconstructs the re-emergence of the single state solution both intellectually and organizationally. This it does from within a de-colonial approach to the politics of resistance which both acknowledges the political nature of writing and knowledge production and strives to center the political practices of the situated resistances of the oppressed themselves in its analyses of social transformation. It analyzes the single state alternative from within its own self-understandings, strategies and maps to power.  In doing so it aims to shed light upon a largely silenced pathway of resistance to the current Israeli-Palestinian peace process, and to take its possibility as a more just political alternative to the status quo seriously.

 
These are abridged versions of the abstracts submitted by  the presenters.
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