The European Union (EU) has played an important, yet inconsistent role in the Israel-Palestine conflict since the1980 Venice Declaration. This paper analyses how the EU’s role as a mediator has changed more recently in the Israel-Gaza conflict. Specifically, it examines how the ‘Concept on Strengthening EU Mediation and Dialogue Capacities’ adopted in 2009 and the creation of the European External Action Service and the High Representative by the Lisbon Treaty have changed the EU’s resources and strategies as a mediator as well as how these developments improved cooperation and coordination with other mediators. This analysis is done through a comparison of the EU’s role in the Israeli Operation Cast Lead in 2008/2009 and Operation Protective Edge in 2014. It is argued that the aforementioned changes made the EU a more capable mediator and facilitated internal coordination. However, these changes did not create more resources for the EU as a mediator, rather they changed how the EU used its resources.
The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is of enormous interest to scholars and policy-makers, yet the internal Israeli policy debate on this issue is often overlooked or oversimplified. It is impossible to understand Israeli actions, the constraints on Israeli decision-makers and the trajectory of the conflict itself without a deeper understanding of this debate. This article presents a framework for categorizing the leading policy prescriptions currently advocated in Israel with respect to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, drawing on public statements by politicians and leading think-tanks, and surveys of public opinion. The most discussed Israeli policy options are presented as follows: maintain the status quo; proactively move towards two states through either a negotiated agreement (Plan A) or unilateral separation (Plan B); or entrench Israeli presence in the West Bank through settlement expansion and annexation. Various public opinion surveys show the extent to which the Israeli public is divided on the issues, and an analysis of Israel’s 2013–14 coalition demonstrates how all these approaches were being promoted simultaneously within the same cabinet, contributing to policy incoherence. The article concludes by outlining how Palestinian and international actions are influencing the Israeli debate, and argues that a move away from the status quo will require decisive Israeli leadership. It also suggests that third party attempts to impose terms for resolving the conflict that do not respond to concerns held widely in Israel are likely to fuel the argument of the status quo camp in the Israeli debate.
Nissen, Ada and Hilde Henriksen Waage. “Weak Third Parties and Ripening: Revisiting Norwegian Interventions in Guatemala and the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict.” International Negotiation 20.3 (2015): 389-413.
Can weak third parties contribute to ripening conflicts for resolution despite their lack of leverage? According to the core principles of ripeness theory, mediators with leverage have a clear advantage when it comes to ripening. What is often overlooked in the literature, however, is the important ways a weak mediator can contribute to ripening as well. This article explores two noteworthy cases of weak third party ripening – the Norwegian roles in the Oslo channel between Israel and the Palestinians, and between the URNG guerrilla and the government in Guatemala. These cases demonstrate how careful interventions by weak third parties can help disputants see negotiations as a way out both in preliminary and later phases of negotiations. However, we also argue that weak third parties should not get involved in ripening unless they can call on a mediator with more leverage once substantial negotiations begin.