The Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which is one of the world’s more enduring and controversial conflicts, has resulted in violence, bloodshed, homelessness, and death. Many leaders and diplomats have attempted to bring about a negotiated solution to this conflict; however, violence continues to grip the region.
As a former Israel Defense Forces and United States Army soldier, I was on the front lines of combat. I was once a soldier of conquest, now I am a soldier of peace. I was once a soldier of war, now I am a soldier of love. I was once a soldier of blood, now I am a soldier of roses.
Some of the fundamental issues in this conflict are identity, nationality, religion, land, and recognition. These issues are similar to the issues in the conflict involving Northern Ireland. Therefore, it is time to ask ourselves: What can Palestinians and Israelis learn from Northern Ireland?
In 1922, when the Irish Free State was established under the Anglo-Irish Treaty, six of Ireland’s northern counties remained part of the United Kingdom. Since that time, tensions and violence continue between unionists who favor remaining with Britain and nationalists who favor unification with the Republic of Ireland (formerly Irish Free State). Since the 1960’s, there have been over 3,500 deaths due to “The Troubles”, as these hostilities are called.
Fortunately, in 1998 the Good Friday Agreement (GFA) was signed and brought an end to some of the violence. This breakthrough agreement was a significant development in the Northern Ireland peace process. This accord created both the Northern Ireland Assembly and the Northern Ireland Executive and made possible further peaceful cooperation between the parties.
Can Israelis and Palestinians learn from the complex situation in Northern Ireland? Will there be a final status peace agreement between Israelis and Palestinians in which all major issues with be decided? Will there be a demilitarized Palestinian state? What will be the fate of Palestinian refugees? Will Jerusalem remain Israel’s united capital? What will be the future of so-called Israeli settlements? There are numerous challenging questions that must be addressed.
The fundamental struggle between Israelis and Palestinians is a struggle for identity and self-definition within an environment of warfare, violence, conquest, and extremism. This clash of identities is similar to the conflicts in Northern Ireland in which unionists and nationalists disagree on the fundamental nature of Irish identity, particularly as it relates to British identity.
Each generation of Israelis must define what it means to be Israeli; and each generation of Palestinians must define what it means to be Palestinian.
As we strive to resolve these trauma-based identity crises, we must launch new multilateral peace negotiations called “The Israeli Palestinian Peace Process of Ireland” which will begin in Dublin and Belfast beginning in 2022.
These peace negotiations would be hosted by both President Michael D. Higgins of the Republic of Ireland and First Minister Paul Givan of Northern Ireland.
The Palestinian delegation would include—Mohammad Shtayyeh, Ismail Haniyeh, Ziyad Al-Nakhalah, Hanan Ashrawi, Noura Erakat, Jibril Rajoub, and Mariam Barghouti. The Israeli delegation would include—Yair Lapid, Tzipi Hotoveley, Ayelet Shaked, Yossi Beilin, Nitzan Horowitz, Dan Meridor, and Effi Eitam.
There must be an end to war and violence between Israelis and Palestinians, and there must be new relationships of partnership based on unconditional love, grace, mercy, mutual recognition, and trust between Arab people and Jewish people.
True peace–which is dead and buried–must rise from the grave as divine grace and mercy. The prince of darkness must be replaced by the prince of peace, and divine mercy must replace extremism and hatred.
Let all sides support “The Israeli Palestinian Peace Process of Ireland” with the backing of the United States, Russia, European Union, United Kingdom, China, Japan, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and Republic of Ireland.
This article is part of the “Peace Prophet” series which is inspired by “Peace Pilgrim” (Mildred Lisette Norman) who was an American peace activist who passed away in 1981. Barack Obama Mandela—known as “Peace Prophet”—earned a Juris Doctor degree from the University of California, Hastings College of the Law with a specialization in International Law. He is a protégé of the late Professor Stefan A. Riesenfeld.