|Crisis-Management Seminar: Israel and Palestine|
On May 4, 2006, the Italian International Affairs Institute (IAI), with the collaboration of the Palestinian Academic Society for the Study of International Affairs (PASSIA), held a seminar in Jerusalem on “Domestic Developments and Future Relations After the Palestinian and Israeli Elections”.
The seminar is part of the EuroMeSco series of “crisis management” seminars devoted to foster confidence among the parties to crises unfolding within the Euro-Med framework and generate recommendations with a view to managing such crises. These seminars are promoted by EuroMeSCo within the framework of its agreements with the European Commission and funded by the latter. As a rule, participants come from the parties concerned and at least four EuroMeSCo member institutions.
The participants discussed four items. The first one was the definition of the crisis arising in Israeli-Palestinian relations after the changes that the Palestinian and Israeli elections let emerge. The reinforcement of Israeli unilateralism, thanks to Kadima’s victory, on the one hand, and the rise to power of Hamas, on the other, have initiated a vicious circle whereby the peace process is practically becoming a non-option. While Hamas is not willing to take up the Oslo process legacy, nor seems it interested in talking with Israel, its position is functional to Israel’s unilateralism and its unwillingness to resume talks with the Palestinians. In order to make a conflict-resolution perspective re-surface in a more or less distant future, interested players in the international community should manage at present two inter-related, yet different crises: (a) Israel’s unilateralism and the preclusive effects it may have on resuming whatever peace process; and (b) the systemic political crisis unfolding in the Palestinian arena.
The second and third sessions were devoted to highlight these two crises: on the one hand, the feasibility of the convergence plan and its impact on Israeli domestic relations and relations with the international community and the Palestinians; on the other hand, the international and domestic factors shaping the Palestinian crisis and its dynamics. In the last session, both the Palestinian and the Israeli participants made proposals concerning the policies the European Union should carry out according to their varying views and analyses.
Israeli and Palestinian participants came from non-governmental organizations, universities and research institutions, and media. One Arab member of the Knesset participated as well. Within the end of May, Roberto Aliboni and Nathalie Tocci will draft a report on the seminar.