New Visions and Strategies for a Sustainable Solution to the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

The first conference on The Transformation of Intractable Conflicts: Perspectives and Challenges for Interactive Problem Solving took place at Harvard University’s Weatherhead Center for International Affairs, and took place from March 27-29, 2014. The conference opened with a joint event organized with the Harvard Middle-East Seminar. Four proposals for new approaches to solutions for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict were presented at the opening session of the conference.

The panel was chaired by Sara Roy, with Herbert Kelman, George Assousa, Jerome Segal, Ruham Nimri as speakers. One of the functions of interactive problem solving – and other track-two efforts – is to reframe unproductive negotiations in a way that makes them more capable of producing an outcome that is acceptable to both parties and can elicit the support of their general populations. The panel speakers presented the results of their efforts to develop new ideas, formulas and efforts to re-frame negotiations of a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The document presenting the four proposals is available here.

One of these proposals was from Dr. George Assousa.  The speaker notes for his talk Delivering a Two-State Solution are available  here.  In his talk, Dr. Assousa introduced his Dual Democracies model for the two states.  Going back to first principles, and focusing on the settler issue in particular, Dr. Assousa argued that a two-state solution can only be achieved via reciprocal minorities, Arab in the Israeli state, and Jewish in the Palestinian state, which would act as a vehicle for acceptance across the two-state solution. Dr. Assousa’s talk was based upon a Track Two process commenced in October 2006, quietly exploring and promoting the Dual Democracies model on both sides of the conflict, and in the international community, principally in the U.S. and Europe.  The 2013 final status negotiation framework borne out of this process, which was made available to key players before the July 2013 – April 2014 negotiations began, is available here.

The conference was made possible through the support of the Austrian Marshall Plan Foundation, with additional support from the Anwar Sadat Chair for Peace and Development at the University of Maryland, and Beyond Conflict.

The second Conference on The Transformation of Intractable Conflicts took place in September 2015, and the opening event was also organized with the Harvard Middle-East Seminar. Deputy Speaker of the Knesset, MK Hilik Bar, and Palestinian Ambassador at Large, Dr Husam Zomlot, discussed the the current state of affairs and the peace plan which MK Bar has put forward. A report with the presentation of MK Bar, and including his peace proposal, is available here.

The conference also included an extended session addressing the challenges of implementing alternative Two-State solutions to the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict. The speaker notes from Dr. George Assousa’s presentation at the session on Recognizing the New Two-State Paradigm for Israel & Palestine are available here.  In his talk, Dr. Assousa spoke in greater depth about the Dual Democracies proposal for two states he introduced at the previous year’s conference.  By charting the history of the concept of dual minorities within a two-state solution, Dr. Assousa places MK Hilik Bar’s “historic” July 27, 2015 proposal in context, and argues that we are moving toward a new paradigm for the two-state solution, a co-operative two-state paradigm which differentiates itself from the separationist Geneva Initiative.  Dr. Assousa presents the unique “procedural” aspect of his two-state model which allows for reciprocity in negotiations, the opening up of win-win outcomes, and the preservation of the two-state solution.

The 2015 conference was made possible through the financial support of the Austrian Marshall Plan Foundation, which along with the Weatherhead Center, the University of Graz Faculty of Law and the University of Klagenfurt’s Centre for Peace Research and Peace Education, co-organized the event with the Kelman Institute.

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