From a historical point of view the 1948 War between Israel and the Arab states created a new geo-political reality in the Middle East. What was the experience of victory for one side was imprinted as a painful defeat by the other side. Since then, for seven continuous decades, Israel’s relations with its non-Jewish citizens (usually termed Arab Israelis) and the Palestinians has been one of the main subjects for multi-disciplinary research.
The June 1967 War made the complexity of these relations even more acute following Israel’s entry into areas of Judea and Samaria and the Gaza Strip as the acting sovereign power. The Oslo Accords (1993) and the one-sided step taken by Israel to disengage from the Gaza Strip (the summer of 2005) also contributed new issues to the inter-relationship between the sides and, to the “traditional” questions, such as the chances of entering into a political process or an additional security escalation between the Palestinians and Israel, new questions were added. These included the mutual relations between Fatah (and the Palestinian Authority) and Hamas, Israel’s policy of differentiating between two separate Palestinian arenas, the links between the Palestinian organizations and the countries in the region (and the world), the heritage and inheritance of Abu Mazen, the establishment of new political frameworks, the economic situation and the image of the young Palestinian generation.
These changes, both directly and indirectly, also had an influence on the Israeli Arabs and the questions involving their national identity, the level of their readiness to integrate into Israeli society or to separate themselves from it and the level of their mobilization (through identification, protest and violence) in support of the Palestinian national struggle, are only a selection of the issues that are being constantly researched in regard to Israel’s Arab minority.
In addition to the above one has to add the influence of the new technologies that are entering the Palestinian arena and external ideas such as, on the one hand, World Jihad and, on the other, modernization and western liberalization.
These and other questions are worth studying regularly for the simple reason that they all directly and indirectly influence the Israeli public and its decision makers both as individuals and as a collective.
Goals for research and research development:
“The Palestinian Division” in the Middle East and Central Asia Research Center will focus upon the following goals:
- The publication of studies that provide a picture of the reality of the Palestinian arena that will make it possible for readers to familiarize themselves with the subject.
- To gain exposure of the Division through its publications, appearances in media events and study days devoted to the Palestinian world.
- The development of position papers and political recommendations for the decision makers.
- The development of research networks with academic factors in Israel, the Middle East and the world.
- The growth of the number of students that deal with research into the Middle East as a whole and the Palestinian world in particular.
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