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World Politics Analytical Essay - Can Peace Be Achieved in the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict?

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Analytical Essay:

Can peace be achieved in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict?

The Palestinian-Israeli conflict is a feud that has been going on between the state of Israel and Palestine since Israel's creation in 1947. Nevertheless, it dates back to 1917 where both states were under the British Mandate. Nowadays, it has become one of the most controversial topics of debate as conflict resolution has still not been achieved and international institutions and the states are solely focusing on conflict management. First, we will explain the theories of Realism, Liberalism and Constructivism. Then, by applying the three theories of international relations we have studied to this subject, we will evaluate whether peace can be attained in this land where war has been raging for the past 63 years.

Realism is a theory of international relations, which affirms that states are the main actors in international relations and that their primary goal is to pursue their national interest and seek power over other states. There exist two kinds of realism: classical realism and neo-realism. Classical realism authors like Thucydides and Morgenthau focus on human nature and stress the importance of power, order and stability. Even though, neo-realists agree with this, they, in fact, stress the importance of structural properties of the international system, especially emphasizing the distribution of power. Here also lie two more branches of realism: defensive realism and offensive realism. Defensive realist authors like Waltz maintain that states are generally satisfied with the status quo if their security is not challenged and thus concentrate on maintaining the balance of power . On the other hand, offensive realists like Mearsheimer think states are power maximizers who are only concerned with absolute power and defending their national security.

In contrast, liberalism finds its roots with authors such as Woodrow Wilson and Immanuel Kant who believe in free trade and believe that economic interdependence reduces the outbreak of war and the use of violence. Similarly to realism, it also has two main divisions: classical liberalism and neo-liberalism. Classical liberalism stresses the importance of liberal democracies through the "democratic peace" argument and puts a lot of weight on the role of the international institutions and their help in managing conflicts and securing cooperation. Neoliberals agree with all these points but, in turn, accept anarchy and the fact that states are the only actors of international relations. Nevertheless, they maintain that war isn't inevitable and that international institutions can keep in line conflicting states and ensure collaboration between them.

Opposite to the two other IR theories, constructivism lays its theory ground on the importance of society and its effect in international relations. This social theory rests its main points with the impact of identity, ideas, cultures and values in shaping international relations. Social movements prove to us the value of societal politics and thus this is what should be emphasized. Constructivists like Alexander Wendt or Emanuel Adler believe that change can be more fundamental and that international institutions not only manage state behavior but also create and form state identities. Therefore, constructivists challenge directly neo-realism and neoliberal institutionalism, which prioritize the preservation of structural properties and the distribution of power over society.

To put it in a historical context, for the most part of the 20th century Palestine and Israel have been in conflict. Nevertheless, before being Palestinians and Israelis, they were first known as Arabs and Jews from Palestine under the British Mandate that took place from 1917-1947. During this time, the idea of Jewish/Arab state had already been envisioned seeing as both populations were in need of land to create their own state. Promises had been made to both populations as seen from the Sykes-Picot agreement of 1916 and the Balfour Declaration of 1917. However, after anti-Semitism rose in Europe and the emigration rate of Jews increased drastically in Palestine, it was clear that a state needed to be created for both Arabs and Jews. After the debacle of the Exodus boat in 1947, the British partitioned Palestine into a Jewish/Arab State. Nevertheless, since this state was not properly designed or envisioned by the British, Israel, the Jewish state, took control of the situation and issued a war of independence on all its neighboring countries after the proclamation. This event unfolded a series of conflict in the Arab world including the Suez Crisis, the 1967 war, the Yon Kippur War, the Lebanese war and the first and second intifada's. Most importantly, this war of independence was the trigger for International Terrorism, which is responsible for most 21st century problems today.

By applying the realist theory to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, we can conclude that peace will not be possible in this dispute. During the British mandate over Palestine, both Arabs and Jews shared the same desire to find a land "to seek sovereignty for their people over a whole country" and this proved to be their biggest source of conflict: they were both after the same land. When Israel was formed in 1947 and took over the land, it adopted a realist policy and protected its own interest by invading the neighboring states to assure its national security. Today, Palestine wishes to do the same by reclaiming "its" land and thus, it attempts to use the same tactics by using violence as well: "Violence {...} is perceived to be more effective than a political process to realize national goals, an approach that represents a significant regression from the concept that conflicts should be resolved by peaceful means" . Similarly to the Athenians in the Melian Dialogue, it is in Israel's national interest to maintain the balance of power and its status as hegemon of the Middle East by ensuring that Palestine does not get its land back. This security dilemma could explain the reversal effect in recent years, from conflict resolution to conflict management by Israel and the international institutions. Furthermore, peace will not be achievable because of Israel's containment policy in the state and Palestine's desire to control the entire area. As a neo-realist would argue, war will always go on, since there will always be a presence of danger from Palestine. Interdependence and cooperation are also impossible because of Palestine's desire, as a revisionist state, to overthrow Israel. In addition, since Israel has become the "Super Power" of the Middle East, its priority rests in security, which makes the



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