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Settling the Arab-Israeli Conflict

- Abstract

THE future of the Arab-Israel conflict will be shaped by the course of events at three levels: first, that of relations between the state of Israel and the Arab states, more particularly those which are its neighbors; second, the relationship between the Israelis and the Palestinians; and third, the policies and actions of the great powers, and in particular of the United States and the Soviet Union. Much of the complexity and difficulty of the situation arises from the intermingling and interaction of these three. Yet, though connected, they are basically different, and affected by different factors. In each of them certain conditions are necessary if there is to be any chance of progress toward peace or even toward a settlement.

In recent years there have been some signs of significant change in the relations between Israel and its Arab neighbors. In some of these, leaders have indicated a degree of willingness, even if expressed in carefully indirect terms and hedged with restrictions, to accept the existence of Israel as a state. Such an acceptance, if meant seriously and conveyed convincingly, could transform the Arab-Israeli conflict. It would not, of course, in itself solve the problem, but it would at least bring it within range of a solution by transforming it into a normal political dispute-that is to say a conflict in which the issue is not the existence of a state but a disagreement between existing states about territory, like, for example, the long struggle between France and Germany over Alsace-Lorraine or the current Greco-Turkish dispute about Cyprus.

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