Ahlal-Kitab

The recent flareup of violence between Israelis and Palestinians which caught the attention of many civil society actors and stakeholders again requires and prompts a revisiting of an issue which has long been the center of gravity, focal point, main flashpoint, and “core concentric circle” of international issues and global conflict aside from the regional issues and major power relations that make up the two other most important aspects or dimensions of international affairs. Arguably, one way of approaching the issue is by looking at what the strategic options are for the two conflicting parties moving forward and by putting the past behind us, given that no one can go back into the past and change or reverse what was done or said. We can write books, paragraphs, and pages about the history of the conflict and talking heads can bicker and quarrel in the public sphere until their hearts desire, but it would be pointless if a “litigation of the past” does not bring creative and noteworthy options and solutions to the fore as we head into a complex, paradoxical, and uncertain future.  

When we distill certain pieces of literature and certain perspectives, there are perhaps three strategic options for both the Israelis and the Palestinians over both the short-term and the long-term. For one, and as one of my graduate school professors who is a director and key figure of the Israeli studies program at American University proposed recently, there is a “one-state solution” that is worth considering. This “one-state solution” is perhaps a local solution for a local conflict, and it can be advanced if one were to view the Israeli-Palestinian issue as an issue that can be brought into a localized context which pertains solely to Israelis and Palestinians. 

Second, and if we were to look at the Israeli-Palestinian issue as an issue with global consequences and global implications, there is a “globalization” solution or a “global solution” that one could consider. This means that the solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict stops short of declaring a solely “Jewish State” or a solely “Palestinian State.” Because of globalization, a dogmatic and purist approach towards state creation based on the preservation of rigid and uncompromising identities could well be the obstacle to a reasonable and worthwhile solution to the issue. As Sylvain Cypel argued, the status quo is a “dysfunctional anachronism of walled-off ethno-nationalism” based on the “reactionary character of ethno-national thinking” vis-à-vis a global population that is mixing and intermingling. 

And third, there is the “regionalization” solution or “regionalism” as recent American presidents have proposed. “Regionalization” as a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian issue became mainstream with the “Abraham Accords” of the Trump Administration, and it appears as though the Biden Administration has also advanced this particular option for the time being. The paradox of this regionalization option, however, is that while the “regionalization” solution and the “Abraham Accords” have improved relations between Israel and certain Arab states, the relations between Israelis and the Palestinians themselves have taken a turn for the worse. Nor does the “regionalization” issue address the issue of Iran. Personally, I was once a proponent of the “regionalization” solution, but when assessing some of the recent outcomes of the regionalization option when adopted and put into practice by the two most recent American presidents, there are perhaps better options if one were to put in the energy and the effort to pursue them. 

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