How does the analysis of structural violence help to explain the persistence of the Israel-Palestine conflict? A case study of the barrier
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The Israel-Palestine conflict constitutes one of the longest standing conflicts in modern times. Its continuation has often been attributed to the very nature of the conflict: two peoples pursuing an incompatible goal-ownership of the same piece of land. Violence has constituted a characteristic feature of this struggle, widely employed by the two peoples. The analysis of violence, however, has often been limited to acts of direct and physical violence that can be attributed to an individual subject. This thesis investigates violence in the conflict going beyond this traditional conceptualisation of violence. It employs Johan Galtung’s conceptual and theoretical framework, in which he identifies three types of violence: direct, structural and cultural. This thesis argues that all three types of violence are symbiotic in nature. The underlying assumption in this thesis is simple: violence breeds violence. Thus, in order to understand the persistence of the conflict, it is essential to analyse all three types of violence. The thesis proposes the hypothesis that the continuing failure to address all forms of violence, as well as omitting or minimising the importance of any of them, prevents the possibility of resolving the conflict, and thus has contributed to the protraction of the conflict.
In order to examine this assumption empirically, the thesis investigates the violence in the conflict, concentrating on the Israeli barrier. The study poses two central research questions. The first asks what led to the construction of the barrier. The second asks why the barrier remains, and the Israeli occupation continues. The answers to the research questions and the account of violence have been the subjects of two contrasting narratives: Israeli and Palestinian. In order to provide both Israeli and Palestinian contributions to these questions, the thesis is divided into two accounts: Palestinian narrative and Israeli narrative. The empirical analysis of violence in the conflict, embedded in the theoretical framework of Galtung's conceptualisation of violence, and divided into the two narratives, reveals a complex cycle of violence in the conflict. It demonstrates the interconnection between the three types of violence and shows the impact of the violence on the intractability of the Israel-Palestine conflict.
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