Saturday, April 08, 2006

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September 29, 2002 marked two years since the beginning of the second Intifada against the Israeli Army in the West Bank[1] and Gaza Strip. Since that time those killed have included, more than 1800 Palestinians[2], 478 Israeli civilians, 209 Israeli soldiers[3], 145 suicide bombers[4] and 13 Israeli Arabs. The year 2002 also saw the beginning of the construction of a 150 kilometre wall along (and within) the West Bank/Israeli separation line[5], the killings at Jenin, a continuation of suicide bombings, President George W. Bush’s June 24 speech calling for the removal of Chairman/President Arafat, and Labor party’s withdrawal from the Israel coalition government[6]. The elections of 28 January 2003 returned Ariel Sharon and the Likud Party dominated coalition as the government of Israel.

September 29, 2002 also marked one year and eighteen days since the Al Qa’ida[7] attack on New York City and Washington DC. As a result, ‘Palestine’ has earnt herself, whether she likes it or not, her own international defender, her own ‘white knight’.[8] Osama Bin Laden, “avowed mastermind behind the attacks” appeared to justify the attacks given the perceived “contradictory role”[9] of the United States in the Middle East and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.[10] This was evident from his video address released internationally on 10 October 2001.[11]

The consequences of Al Qa’ida’s actions and the United States and her allies’ response has profoundly changed the world and added yet another dimension to an already overburdened situation that exists for people in the Middle East.

Gaps in the Literature

Given the current state of Middle-Eastern affairs, there is a desperate need for conflict resolution scholars and practitioners to apply their skills in the facilitation of an end to the violence, which is affecting the Middle East and the wider global community.
However, literature dealing with the Palestinian-Israeli conflict betrays a lack of concise and yet comprehensive treatments of the subject. Scholarly work from a variety of disciplines demonstrates a substantial amount of research on the history of the conflict; and general theories of conflict and conflict resolution. However, there is a shortage of academic papers which provide a solid theoretical conflict resolution approach with direct practical relevance to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

This thesis aims to address these limitations by developing a combined theoretical and practical approach for resolving the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, within a ‘needs-based’ conflict resolution framework. As such a general method of conflict resolution is proposed which then is used to outline steps for resolution of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.


This thesis is premised on several hypotheses, which are stated below:

1. The Palestinian-Israeli conflict will continue until fundamental psychological and structural obstacles are overcome.

2. Overcoming these primary psychological obstacles requires the fulfilment of fundamental needs at the individual or micro scale.

3. The fundamental psychological needs are control, security, justice, rational stimulation, emotional stimulation, esteem, meaning and identity.

4. The prerequisites for attainment of these fundamental needs are

(a) Hope/belief in the possibility of conflict resolution
(b) The ability to empathise with ‘the other’
(c) The desire to develop more inclusive worldviews
(d) The action of building trust, as made evident by cooperation and

5. The prerequisites for societal change require implementation within the structures of society those factors which encourage fundamental need satisfaction. These changes are required within the:

(a) social,
(b) political,
(c) religious,
(d) legal; and
(e) economic systems.

Research Methodology

The methodology adopted in this thesis follows the theory developed by conflict resolution theorists and practitioners such as Herb Kelman and John Burton. This theory remains in its embryonic stages, with much scholarly input still required in the fields of conflict resolution, social psychology, sociology, international law and international relations.

The author began informal work on this dissertation following his first trip to Israel and his time as a volunteer in the Arab-Jewish village of Neve Shalom/Wahat al-Salam, during May-July 2000. The informal research was centred in London, and continued throughout 2000 and 2001. As a result of the research the author travelled to Amsterdam, Zurich, New York, Washington DC and returned to Israel in July 2001. In this time he conducted a number of informal interviews. He began his formal research when he became a candidate for a Master of Arts in Peace and Conflict Studies, University of Sydney in March 2002.

The Middle Eastern situation remains volatile, with new developments being reported each day. This thesis is based on information available as of the 14 February 2003.

Research Limitations

This research developed a number of theoretical models, including a model on the basis for peace, at an individual and societal level and a general model on the attainment of peace, reconciliation and conflict resolution. These theoretical models proposed in chapter two whilst satisfying intuitive criteria, and backed by other scholarly work, like previously proposed models, require comprehensive empirical verification.

Secondly, given a basic theoretical assumption of need-based conflict resolution, this thesis shared some potential bias towards an over-optimistic and trusting view of humanity. To present a broader view of conflict this thesis did address the use of deceit and conflict manipulation by negotiators who chose self-centred need attainment methods. However, as a work of theory development, this thesis had to determine how a system would function if all factors were working at their optimum.

Thirdly, despite some attempts to incorporate cross-cultural results into this thesis, the sources and worldview of this thesis were heavily western-centric.


[1] Referred to as “Judea and Samaria” for example by various Likud party advocates. See Appendix A ‘Naming Methodology’.
[2] Amira Hass, “Intifada Arises from Occupation, Palestinians assert,” Ha’aretz, 30 September 2002.
[3] Israel Defense Force, “Casualties During the Ebb and Flow Since 29/9/00” , IDF Website,
10 December 2002.
[4] Amos Harel, “Shin Bet: 145 suicide bombers since the start of the Intifada”, Ha’aretz.; Others prefer the expression ‘homicide bombers’.
[5] The Green Line
[6] Joshua Brilliant, “Sharon sets to reshaping Israel Government”, Washington Times, 31 October 2002
[7] Commonly spelled as ‘Al Qaeda’ in Western Press; See Appendix A for notes on transliteration of Arabic to English.
[8] Robert V. Keeley, “Trying to Define Terrorism”, Middle East Policy, 9(1), March 2002, p. 38
[9] Mahmood Monshipouri, “The Paradoxes of US Policy in the Middle East”, Middle East Policy, 9(3), September 2002, p. 65.
[10] Ann M. Lesch, “Osama bin Laden: Embedded in the Middle East Crises”, Middle East Policy, 9 (2), June 2002, p. 88.
[11] Transcript: Osama bin Laden, “Response to Start of Military Action in Afghanistan”,, 10 October 2001.