Pathway to peace in Ireland and Middle East

08-05-2024 11:16 AM
Ghaith H. Alqudah Researcher, PhD. Candidate

The Center for Strategic Studies at the University of Jordan held yesterday a conference titled "Pathways to Peace in Northern Ireland" featuring key political discussions.


The event was attended by various experts and researchers, as well as the Irish Ambassador, and was chaired by the center's director, Professor Zaid Eyadat. He began by highlighting the importance of learning from the Irish peace process, which ultimately led to the signing of the Good Friday Agreement in 1998.


The center is renowned for hosting significant political seminars to aid political decision-makers by learning from various human socio-political experiences.

This is especially relevant in the Jordanian context, where the Irish experience of occupation and peace resonates deeply, particularly in relation to the Palestinian issue.

The discussions included personal experiences of participants involved in the peace process in Ireland, notably the role of women, civil society institutions, and youth. These talks emphasized community empowerment and institution-building, which have positively shaped the peace trajectory in Ireland. Hosting such a conference in Jordan, discussing the Irish model, bears significant implications; it reflects on Ireland's understanding of occupation and peace, which also informs its principled stance on the Palestinian issue.

Dr. Marwan Muasher, the vice president for studies at Carnegie , began his keynote by stating that the peace process in Ireland offers real-world examples relevant to the Middle East. He detailed the peace process with Israel, advocating for a "one-state solution" as the reality on the ground, evident from a visit to the West Bank. He highlighted the demographic parity and high birth rates among Palestinians, predicting a demographic majority despite ongoing Israeli immigration.

Muasher also questioned the wisdom of Jordan's economic ties to Israel, particularly unfair agreements regarding water and gas, which economically disadvantage Jordan. Asking : why to sign water and gas agreement with Israel? he emphasized the need to detach Jordan's financial and economic security from restrictive agreements with Israel. Notably, he pointed out that the Israeli Knesset's recent overwhelming vote (98%) against recognizing an independent Palestinian state reflects an unwillingness to negotiate in good faith.

He summarized three potential scenarios for the region: the American scenario, which appears to stall for time; a mass transfer project strongly advocated by Israel, which aims to sustain the occupation; and a more likely scenario as Muasher mentioned of demographic dominance by Palestinians in the West Bank, which would challenge Israel's ability to maintain an apartheid-like control indefinitely.

In conclusion, Muasher stressed the importance of Jordanian official dialogue with Hamas, advocating for engagement with them as a significant political force and a Palestinian resistance group. However it is not out of context to mention that Hamas had expressed willingness to transition to a political party if Israel withdrew to the internationally recognized 1967 borders, drawing a parallel to the resistance party in Northern Ireland. This approach could potentially de-escalate the ongoing crisis and lead to the end of the Israeli occupation, paving the way for lasting peace in the region.

It should be emphasized that all nations strive for just peace, recognizing that the costs of war are extremely high. No war ends without the end of occupation. This understanding guided the negotiators in Ireland, who dedicated themselves fully to forging a peace that both secured everyone's rights and effectively ended the occupation, while acknowledging the opposing party, It is also necessary to thank the Center for Strategic Studies for providing us the opportunity to learn from this richly informative and significant political and humanitarian experience, as well as for facilitating the transfer and utilization of International political experiences.

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