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There are plenty of articles and researches written about the conflict resolution theory and conflict resolution theory in the Arab-Israeli conflict, in particular. Like any complex problem, this conflict has a long history as well as multi-layered and internally contradictory structure; therefore, there are many opinions about whether it is possible to resolve the issue and what the possible ways are.
Conflict resolution theory
Conflict resolution theory studies the origin, development, resolution, and completion of any conflict that lead to the peaceful decision of the issue. Negotiation, diplomacy, mediation, and creative peacebuilding are the key tools of the conflict resolution theory (Deutsch, Coleman, & Marcus 2011). For example, negotiation is a diplomatic means of resolving the problem with the help of representatives of the states on the merits of reaching an agreement on the application of any other peaceful means to resolve the dispute.
One should distinguish between the complete and incomplete resolution of the conflict. If there is a transformation or elimination of the conflict (for instance, of causes, or object), then the conflict might be resolved completely. Incomplete resolution occurs in the case when only some of the structural elements of the conflict might be eliminated or converted, particularly the content of the confrontation, its field, the motivational base of the behavior of participants in the conflict, etc. The conflict resolution theory means an effective resolution of the conflict, in other words, a resolution with the lowest possible loss of resources and preservation of vital public structures. The following components contribute to the successful resolution of the conflict:
- A sufficiently high level of democratic culture in the society;
- Experience in constructive conflict resolution;
- The development of communication links;
- The availability of resources to implement a compensation system (Ramsbotham, Miall, & Woodhouse 2011).
However, there are different types of conflicts and, as a result, several approaches within the conflict resolution theory. For example, scholars differentiate political, social, culture-based, intrapersonal, and other kinds of the conflict. Consequently, one may note various conflict resolution approaches. Among the most prevalent are the following ones:
- Avoidance conflict style (varying or avoiding the topic);
- Cooperation conflict style (considering conflict as a creative chance to collaborate in order to achieve a certain goal);
- Principled negotiation style (peaceful talks);
- Competitive conflict style (competition or “fighting”);
- Conciliation conflict style (compromising), etc.
Thus, in order to resolve the conflict, it is necessary to have favorable conditions and background along with properly planned conflict resolution strategy.
Conflict resolution theory in the Arab-Israeli conflict
First and foremost, it should be noted that Arab-Israeli conflict is a political and culture-based conflict. Over the past decades, several dozen strategies full of peaceful settlement of the conflict have been proposed. Some countries including the United States, the Soviet Union (later Russia), the United Kingdom, Germany, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Egypt, Jordan, and the United Nations along with the European Union created plans. However, all the currently existing projects are based on the concept of living in peace and security (Ben-Yehuda & Sandler 2012).
It is considered that a set of measures directed to the resolution of the conflict would be useful. In particular, conciliation that is not only clarifies the factual circumstances but also develops specific recommendations for the confronting parts. Unfortunately, this logical scheme based on the resolution 181 of the UN General Assembly adopted in 1947 had still not become a reality.
A generally accepted conflict resolution theory in the Arab-Israeli conflict’s components are the following:
- Israel returns the occupied Arab territories;
- Arab states recognize Israel and renounce its plans for destruction;
- The Palestinian National Authority (PA) turns into a full-fledged state.
The described strategy is the result of long and arduous negotiations. The United States took an active part since the early 50s, and since 60s, Washington became one of the key players in this field. At first, this conflict was perceived by Washington as a part of the US-Soviet confrontation, and later – as an independent “hot spot” representing a threat to the global security.
Thus, the Arab-Israeli conflict is a complicated and ambiguous process and, therefore, should be resolved at different levels. Within the framework of the civilization, it is useful to suspend to some extent by means of stopping the “aggression” (avoidance conflict style). At the national level, it seems important to limit to the actual condition of mutual armistice without any formal agreements applying the conciliation conflict style. At the countries level, on the contrary, the practical cooperation is helpful to prevent the policy of the united front of the Muslim or Arab (cooperation conflict style). At the individual level, the focus should be transferred to the improvement of the law as a deterrent force (peacekeeping).
In conclusion, the Arab-Israeli conflict remains poorly understood as a holistic and specific phenomenon of history and world politics, in which the institutional processes and contradictions play a crucial role. Moreover, the fact that the current state of the Arab-Israeli conflict is burdened by the ethnic, religious, cultural, and historical heritage of the past complicates the situation.
Abu-Nimer, M 2012, Dialogue, conflict resolution, and change: Arab-Jewish encounters in Israel, State University of New York Press, Albany.
Ben-Yehuda, H & Sandler, S 2012, The Arab-Israeli conflict transformed: fifty years of interstate and ethnic crises, State University of New York Press, Albany.
Deutsch, M, Coleman P, & Marcus E 2011, The handbook of conflict resolution: theory and practice, 3rd ed., Jossey-Bass, San Francisco.
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Handelman, S 2011, Conflict and Peacemaking in Israel-Palestine: Theory and Application, Routledge, London.
Jones, D 2015, “Conflict resolution: Wars without end”, Nature, vol. 519, no. 1, pp. 148-150.
Ramsbotham, O, Miall, H, & Woodhouse, T 2011, Contemporary conflict resolution: the prevention, management and transformation of deadly conflict,. 3rd ed., Polity Press, Cambridge.