Friday, March 5, 2010

Northern Ireland as a blue print for Israelis and Palestinians?

Israel's ambassador to Ireland, Zion Evrony, writes in The New York Times via the International Herald Tribune about "a consideration of the similarities that may exist between the conflict in Northern Ireland and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and a search for lessons. "

Undoubtedly, there are huge geopolitical, historical and cultural differences between the two regions and the two conflicts. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict possesses far more intractable elements — above all the different role played by religion. The sheer density of holy sites in Jerusalem, sacred to three different faiths, makes them flashpoints of emotional tension. In addition there are the painful, bitter memories of wars, and the challenge of mutual recognition not yet met by all in the Middle East.
But there are lessons to be learned in the Middle East.
  • First and foremost, there is the concept that to resolve a difficult conflict, each side, while retaining its “dream” — its maximum aspiration — must be willing to forego its implementation in practice.

This means that "Israelis would have to give up the dream of a “Greater Israel.” Palestinians would have to give up the dream of “return” for the refugees, accepting their accommodation in a future Palestinian state."

  • A key lesson is that the essential interest of each side must be respected and safeguarded.

For Israel, its recognition by Palestinians as the nation-state of the Jewish people, existing with adequate security arrangements alongside a demilitarized Palestinian state. For Palestinians, independence and freedom within their own state.

  • The central importance of third-party mediation, as well as outside actors who continuously facilitate the process of resolution, is another moral to be gleaned from Northern Ireland peacemaking.

George Mitchell's work in Ireland is an example of how a mediator is supposed to work.

I think the ambassador's approach is thoughtful. What do you say?

Go here to read the full article.

1 comment:

D said...

Hi Stephen,
I think the ambassadors article is indeed thoughtful.I believe its very difficult for Palestinian refugees both in Israel and in the disapora to accept that they cannot return to their homes.There are many Palestinians living abroad that don't care about a Palestinian state and have no problem with Israel and Jews,they just want to go home and its their right to be given that opportunity, why should they give up on it.The Israeli people would never accept it but if they were to take a good look at themselves the only road to a solution may be a one state solution where all the walls come down and everyone lives together.A fairytale solutio I know. check out my blog