Changing the mind for an Israeli-Palestinian peace

Oct 11, 2010
*Special to asia!

The peace talks look doomed to fail, with Israel reluctant to extend the construction freeze in the settlements and the Arabs backing Palestinian decision to walk out of negotiations if this is the case. Is peace such an elusive ideal between the two sides? Not so perhaps, if there is a radical mindset shift, says Palestinian academic Dr Sari Nusseibeh.

The more they are attacked by the fear, the less capable they are of succeeding in creating a state that will protect them, in fact, from the cause of fear.

“From our side, this is what needs to be adjusted. How do we think coolly about our interests, how we prioritise, what are the things we should put right up on our agenda, what's realisable, what's not realisable, how to make compromises to ourselves within our own minds, as to what we value more than other things.

Dr Nusseibeh believed that this was necessary for progress to be achieved in negotiations with Israel.

“The more they are attacked by the fear, the less capable they are of succeeding in creating a state that will protect them, in fact, from the cause of fear.

“There has always been a great debate about whether a state is a fortress against danger, not just in the case of Israel. Is the state protecting its citizens against outside danger?

“I think in the case of Israel, it is very much like that, conceived as a fortress to protect its citizens, the Jews against an outside threat, especially given the background of the Jewish history. But you know, it is very much questionable today, given where Israel stands and how it is viewed by its neighbours in the Middle East.

“Although Israel set out to create protection, to be a protector of Jewish stock, the way it has handled itself in dealing with us has actually decreased rather than increased the ability for it to achieve that protection.

"It has to liberate itself from the fear in order to create the protection. It has to live with us.”

At the end of the day, compromises will have to be made and stumbling blocks abandoned for any real change to take place vis-à-vis Israel and the Palestinians. Will this be the round of talks to bring about a peaceful coexistence?

The Arab League has given the US a month to rescue the negotiations.

Midterm elections will take place in the US at the start of November. Obama will need this one month to cool off pressure on the Israeli side, so as not to have his Democratic Party doesn't fall too much out of favour with Jewish voters at home, especially given his current approval ratings.

After that, he may be in a more comfortable position to play peacemaker.


Next week, “From Jerusalem to the West Bank” will follow up with part 2 of the interview with Dr Sari Nusseibeh, on what the US President and the international community can do in bringing about peace between Israel and the Palestinians.

dan-chyi chua

Dan-Chyi Chua was a broadcast journalist, before forsaking Goggle Box Glitz for the Open Road. A three-year foray led her through the Middle East, China, SE Asia, Latin America and Cuba, and she's now grounded herself as a writer for, content with spending her days in Jerusalem.

Contact Dan-Chyi