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Joel Braunold Headshot

Middle East Conflict: Those on the Outside Continue to Bash Our Heads Against a Brick Wall

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PALESTINIAN STATEHOOD BID
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In the past two years there has been far more effort put into attempting direct negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians, than looking at how the negotiations would come out with a positive result.

Direct negotiations are not a solution but a tool, and a tool that has failed for the past 18 years.

I am not going to play the blame game - it is pointless and will convince no one who is not already convinced of the righteousness of their own position to do anything but stop reading, or send this article around to other supporters of their position.

Instead I want to focus on the international community. The continued existence of this conflict makes no sense to those who believe all that is needed is a rationally created series of gives and takes by each party. I know this, as every permutation around the final status issues has been mooted and spelled out.

In the past few weeks The Atlantic has even published a series of special reports titled 'Is Peace Possible' and has great videos demonstrating the options and solutions to each of the intractable problems in the conflict.

The solutions exist, and the ability of the leaders of each group to deliver the necessary compromise come and go, depending on the political winds blowing through each society. We have yet to reach an occasion where there are leaders in place in both groups at the same time who have the necessary credibility to deliver a deal.

If this problem is not one of finding a rational solution, it must not be a rational problem.

Though the conflict flows around the poles of power and rights, essentially, all who know it well enough recognise that this is a conflict of two narratives which refuse to deal with each other.

This is where the parties involved really need help. Although, both groups want to live in peace, and both want a better future for their children than they have had, both are incapable of 'losing.'

Losing here is not giving up a particular parcel of land or rights, but accepting the fact that you were wrong and they were right. The narrative that hangs on the deal is currently what is drowning it.

The international community in general is not a good place to try and find a meeting place for conflicting narratives. It is a dysfunctional family of nations with scars, alliances, feuds and hostilities all of its own.

Yet the parties on their own will never reach a place where they will be able to look at the other and accept that they do not hold 100% of the truth of history. The trust does not exist and the urgency of the situation is not conducive for it being formed.

The outsiders to this conflict will continue to bash our heads against brick walls, until we realise that the solution to this mess requires an interlocutor that can speak to both parties, but not be absorbed by either. Few, if any non-state actors have the ability to touch this conflict and not be infected by its partisan nature.

If states are going to mediate this conflict, as I feel they must, then they must also move beyond just a rationally acceptable model, and try and form a narrative framework which demonstrates that no one holds the truth in this conflict.

In order to break out of the death spiral both populations are in, the international community needs to make both of them lose, in order to free them from a contest neither can win.