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

The need for creative approaches to resolving the protracted Israeli-Palestinian conflict has never been more urgent. Traditional approaches to a Two State solution have not been adequate to the task. Yet a One State solution approach leaves many significant issues unresolved, in particular questions of citizenship and equality under the law.

Over the course of three international conferences The Transformation of Intractable Conflicts: Perspectives and Challenges for Interactive Problem Solving which took place at Harvard University’s Weatherhead Center for International Affairs, and in March 2014, September 2015 and March 2017, the Kelman Institute and its partners . The conferences have each been opened by a joint session with the Harvard Middle East Seminar. In 2014,  four proposals for new approaches to Two State solutions for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict were presented at the opening session of the conference. In 2015, the conference opened with a discussion on the prospects for peace and a Two State solution between Israeli MK Hilik Bar and Palestinian Ambassador Hussam Zomlot.  In 2017, the opening session was held with MK Hilik Bar and Professor Shibley Telhami, along with a panel of discussants addressed the situation under the new US administration.

As well, a video address from F. W. de Klerk, former president of South Africa, helped open the session.

The conference was made possible through the primary support of the Austrian Marshall Plan Foundation, as well as other supporters over the course of the three conferences, including the German Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), the Anwar Sadat Chair for Peace and Development at the University of Maryland, the Peace Appeal Foundation, Beyond Conflict, Implementation partners also include the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs at Harvard, the Harvard Middle East Seminar, the University of Graz Faculty of Law, the Centre for Peace Research and Peace Education at the University of Klagenfurt, and the Austrian Study Centre for Peace and Conflict Resolution.

These these joint sessions of the conference with the Middle East Seminar allowed speakers and participants to explore the issues around the Two State solution and the broader political context:

The third and final conference of the series on The Transformation of Intractable Conflicts, took place from March 16-18, 2017 at Harvard University. At the public Middle East Seminar opening session, Professor Shibley Telhami from the University of Maryland presented some of his findings on attitudes towards the Two State solution in the US, Israel, and Palestine.

Discussants from the region and from the US brought in their perspectives on the prospects for peace and possible ways forward in the present context.

Speaker notes prepared by Dr George Assousa, founder of the Dual Democracies Initiative, consolidate his presentations at the two previous conferences on intractable conflicts, are available here.  The Dual Democracies Initiative offers a comprehensive two-state framework for final status negotiations. It integrates a settler option to remain under Palestinian sovereignty at the framework level of negotiations, rather than for final status negotiations, thus paving the way for the possibility of energized and equitable give-and-take across the full range of final status issues.

The second Conference on 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, 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.

At the first conference in 2014 , the opening session was chaired by Sara Roy and the speakers were Herbert C. Kelman, George Assousa, Jerome Segal, and Ruham Nimri. One of the functions of interactive problem solving – and other track-two efforts – is to re-frame 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.

Dr. George Assousa’s 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 is available here. And a shorter foundations paper marking 11 years of the Track Two process is available here.