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Decolonization As Reconciliation

Nadim Rouhana rethinks the national conflict paradigm in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict

This paper argues that thinking about reconciliation in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict requires a paradigmatic shift in conflict analysis. The international community has approached the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as a national conflict between Zionism, as the national movement of the Jewish people, and the Palestinian National Movement. The partition plans proposed from before 1947 until the recent “two-state solution” formula have all been based on this assumption. I argue that the premise of national conflict is fundamentally flawed, and, therefore, reaching a settlement based on partition – let alone reconciliation – is becoming increasingly unlikely. A new paradigm (in the Kuhnian sense) is needed that applies a settler-colonial framework to the conflict while also taking into consideration the national component. Reconciliation in this conflict is conceived as decolonization within a transitional justice framework. This approach overcomes major pitfalls in the hegemonic discourse on reconciliation in this conflict, including the symmetrical analysis and psychologizing the process.

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