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From Breaking Dawn to rising sun

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Another round of lethal Palestinian-Israeli exchanges, this time involving Israeli attacks targeting the leadership and infrastructure of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad and the relentless launching of over 1,000 missiles and rockets on Israeli civilian centers, has once again wreaked havoc in the long-besieged Gaza Strip and throughout many parts of Israel. Despite the improved technological accuracy attributed to the foray, its human cost continues to rise in life, limb, livelihood and spirit – not only for Palestinians, but also for Israelis. As of last night, it appears to have subsided – like its predecessors – into an uneasy truce, until yet another stage in this seemingly endless cycle will reignite the violence. The realization that only a diplomatic settlement can break the escalating spiral is by now a truism.

For far too long, all involved have clung systematically to short-term military objectives in the hope of forcing a détente. This has not worked in the past and further iterations cannot be expected to yield dissimilar results. To achieve a long-lasting understanding, it is necessary to cast aside some key fallacies that continue to fuel the increasingly destructive conflict and replace them with principles that can set it on a different, constructive, course. Multiple historical and comparative examples provide significant instruction and practical guidance. The revision of three key working assumptions can go a long way to setting such a process in motion.

The first faulty presumption relates to the definition of the core issues of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. For a century and more, both sides have cultivated the notion that the presence and prosperity of the other constitutes an existential threat to their survival and their being. This zero-sum perception has informed every explosive moment since the late 19th century – including the renewed Jewish settlement efforts on the land under Ottoman rule, the promulgation of the Balfour Declaration and the establishment of the British mandate, the 1929 and 1936 riots, World War II, the United Nations partition agreement, the subsequent War of Independence/Nakba, and then extending to a host of campaigns, skirmishes, wars and armed initiatives. With a few notable exceptions, this common thread has........

© The Times of Israel (Blogs)

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