Posted by: bklunk | March 5, 2007

It’s Worse Than That , Isn’t It?

Actually, the Realists’ point is even more disheartening. Even when two parties have a common interest in cooperation, which arguably both do in this case, concerns about relative gains, etc. may prevent them from cooperating.

Rice Fails in Mid East Talks « Int’l Politics: Israel and Hezbollah

The Guardian (,,329721117-103552,00.html ), the Middle East Peace talks ended on February 20 with little results. The peace talks only lasted for two hours and did nothing to advance peace negotiations.

The Israelis say that there can never be progress in peace negotiations if
Palestine does not renounce violence, agree to previous peace agreements, and recognize

Palestine says that the coalition government is the only way to end civil strife in

I think, again, that the realists argument works best here in this situation. The realist would say that “cooperation” could not work in an anarchic system where states have their own selfish interests. The failed peace talks are proof of that. Each state would not budge on their own interests and, thus, the peace talks ended with little gained.

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  1. Eric Jorgensen
    Blog Response #5

    The Israeli/Palestinian/Arab conflict is, without a doubt, one of the most frustrating of all areas of international tension in the world today. As the writer points out, a common interest — in this case, peaceful relations free of terrorism — seems unachievable because each side mistrusts the motives of the other.

    In a way, the situation resembles the commonly studied Prisoner’s Dilemma. Each side has specific, rational interests:

    As I understand the situation, Israel desires the follow:

    • Guarantees from Arab states and Palestinian groups of its right to exist
    • Border security, especially along its shared border with Lebanon
    • Secure Palestinian self-government

    The Palestinians want

    • A self-determined state
    • An end to Israeli military action
    • Complete Israeli civilian and military withdrawal from occupied territories

    To an outside observer, none of these goals seem mutually exclusive. Compared to the post-World War II situation in the region, today’s arrangement of mostly peaceful relations amongst Israel and Jordan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, etc. are heavenly. So, what is the problem?

    It really does come down to the PD. Israel, one “prisoner”, wants to minimize its “jail time” (achieve the aforementioned objectives). The Palestinians, the other “prisoner,” also want to achieve its goals. The problem is, neither “prisoner” knows how the other “prisoner” will act. Israel worries that if it compromises, the Palestinians will take advantage of it and use the opportunity to cause more violence. And, the Palestinians, on the other hand, worry that any concessions to Israel will merely result in continued oppression.

    Both sides have their heels dug in, and progress will not be made each party realizes where their interests coincide. Hopefully, that time will come soon.

  2. I agree that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is perhaps the most frustrating and deadlocked conflict on the world stage today. It seems that no matter what one side believe it is entitled to, the other will never allow them to have it. The two are at a stand still. There is nothing either side can do that will ever satisfy the other and more importantly will fulfill one of their own objectives. I think that Secretary Rice’s attempt was worth the effort, but I believe that it will take much more than short diplomatic meetings in order to come to some sort of peaceful solution to the problem. We have seen this for so many years with many different administrations trying to broker peace in this region, and clearly there has yet to be a solution that satisfies both Palestine and Israel. I also think that since the United States (and the other members of the quartet) come from a more biased position towards Israel, Palestine will be very hesitant to accept any kind of deal that is presented by an outside actor. However, if nothing is done to try to make progress, increased military conflict/action is more and more likely to occur, especially with a jumpy Israel in possession of high powered weapons that is more than prepared to defend itself.

  3. I think Eric has an interesting point in his comment about everything coming down to PD. It made me question the nature of the ‘game’, though. I’m not well versed in the nature and history of this conflict, but it seems as though both countries might perceive their bargaining situations in zero-sum terms. Further, the conflict may in actuality have a zero-sum dimension to it. Palestine’s gain (at least in terms of territory) is what Israel believes to be necessary to border security, and due to the nation of Israel. In order for Palestine to be satisfied, Israel must forfeit those things which they believe they cannot do without. The converse is true as well, in terms of what Palestine would have to sacrifice (military action, territory) in order for Israel to be satisfied. At this point it is hard to see any exchange that creates a better situation for both parties, because essentially, neither side is willing to forfeit what would be necessary for a compromise, as neither Palestine nor Israel would see balance in what they give up.

  4. I agree with all three of the posts above, because this conflict is both very frustrating and hard to really grasp. I think because the hatred between the two countries and people has gone on for so long, that many on both sides see it as a lose-lose situation with no real solution. There is so much distrust among the two sides that neither feels if they give something to the other side, they can’t be confident they will get the same in return. So if one side does try and make a solution, then they may get taken advantage of and look weak or beaten in some way. So instead they stay in this standstill with no progress being made where both sides keep their pride, but nothing is being done. I agree that it was a good effort by Rice and others to try and help the two sides, but unfortunately it may being a situation that just can’t be helped until the two sides make some drastic changes.

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