In line with ORG’s universal commitment to advance fresh thinking about non-military solutions to conflict, ORG teams have been working in a non-partisan way for many years with both Israelis and Palestinians to encourage new ideas to resolve their long-standing disputes.
For many years, ORG has brought influential Israeli and Palestinian figures together to explore possible areas of common agreement and find ways of overcoming profound differences. These encounters were invariably informative and educational, and helped to foster important personal relationships. Eventually, however, a point was reached, where it was widely felt that in the light of the lack of progress towards peace on the ground, they had exhausted their purpose.
It was clear to us and our Palestinian and Israeli partners that a new approach was required that addressed the differences within the two communities. So, together with our partners, ORG has been pioneering a new approach of facilitating two separate internal dialogues; the Palestinian Strategy Group (PSG) and the Israeli Strategic Forum (ISF), with a view to promoting national debates within each society about alternative strategic options for ending the conflict.
In this spirit, a series of Palestinian roundtables was held in 2007 and 2008, which produced the well-received report, ‘Regaining the Initiative – Palestinian Strategic Options to End Israeli Occupation’.
In partnership with the Ramallah-based Badael Centre, ORG was pleased to provide a platform for further internal discussions in 2010 and 2011. Three workshops were held in Jericho, Gaza and Istanbul, during which nearly all the main Palestinian constituencies were represented. These discussions broke new ground and opened up further possibilities for strategic thinking. The conclusions of the discussions are entirely a matter for the Palestinian participants.
Thus, the resultant document, 'Towards New Strategies for Palestinian National Liberation,' published in August 2011, stands in the name of the PSG alone and is published in the interests of promoting further debate. The report offers an outsanding example of the fruitfulness of inclusive, open and sustained strategic thinking that discusses and compares alternatives to the status quo. It is of great value, not only for Palestinians, but also for Israelis, as well as for would-be third party peacemakers.
In parallel, the Israeli Strategic Forum (ISF) held a series of four meetings in 2010. Proposals are currently being prepared with ORG’s Israeli partners for a further set of workshops. As with the Palestinian Strategy Group, the content of the Israeli discussions and any conclusions reached by the ISF are solely 'owned' by the Israeli participants. They have decided not to publish any papers.
ORG is proud to have been associated with both these projects and hopes they make important contributions to furthering understanding of the present-day challenges and to assisting future policy solutions.
The Palestinian Strategy Group project was funded by the Norwegian Foreign Ministry and Cordaid.
Gabrielle Rifkind is the Director of the Middle East programme at Oxford Research Group (ORG). She is a group analyst and specialist in conflict resolution. Gabrielle combines in-depth political...
Sara Hassan is the Programme Manager for Oxford Research Group's (ORG) Middle East programme. Prior to joining ORG, she spent four years as a Middle East Analyst with IHS Global Insight’s country...
Dr Khaled Hroub works as an advisor on Oxford Research Group's (ORG) Middle East programme.Khaled is a leading expert on Hamas, Islamic movements and the politics of identity. He teaches Modern...
Dr Tony Klug, advisor to ORG, is a veteran writer and analyst on the Middle East, is Vice-Chair of the Arab-Jewish Forum and a board member of the Palestine-Israel Journal. For many years he worked...