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Breaking the Chains of History: Crafting a Fresh Approach to Middle East Peace

In pursuing lasting solutions, the Gaza issue and a potential two-state solution must be viewed through a new lens.

In the aftermath of conflict in Gaza, when the dust eventually settles and the world turns its gaze to the region once again, the call for a lasting resolution will echo louder than ever — a genuine, viable solution that charts towards lasting peace in the Middle East.

A peace that will provide Israel with the security and safety it so desperately needs while providing the Palestinians with a future pregnant with hope and optimism they so desperately deserve.

In embracing this, the greatest test lies in rising above the shadows of past attempts and failures. This begins all the way back to the failed UN partition plan of 1947 and continues throughout the 20th century to the frustrated efforts of Oslo I in 1993 and Oslo II in 1995.

Another great test entails refusing to let those efforts cast a pall over the potential of the future.

The response’s essence must not lie in clinging to yesterday’s outdated and inadequate resolutions but in boldly crafting the new and ingenious while redefining the landscape of possibility for tomorrow.

Of course, the critical question is the governance of Gaza in a post-Hamas world, and by association and potential linkage, a Palestinian State alongside Israel — if the idea of a two-state solution is ever to be further entertained.

Mistakes of the Past

Looking ahead, we must learn from the mistakes of the past. In 2005, during Ariel Sharon’s premiership, Israel executed the unilateral disengagement plan in Gaza, relinquishing control to the Palestinian Authority.

Unfortunately, this decision proved disastrous. It allowed Hamas to seize control, leading to a continuous onslaught of terrorism against Israel. The culmination occurred on October 7, resulting in unspeakable atrocities.

Given this history, an unconditional and unregulated handover of Gaza to the Palestinian Authority is untenable. It underscores the importance of carefully considering the potential consequences and ensuring that future actions prioritize stability and security.

Members of Hamas militant group. Photo: Mahmud Hams/AFP


In pursuing lasting solutions and establishing enduring peace, the Gaza issue and a potential two-state solution must be viewed through a new lens.

Rather than viewing it as a matter of self-governance, it must be considered as a decolonization process. This goes beyond territorial aspects of decolonization and also encompasses economic, ideological, and cultural dimensions.

By adopting this broader view, we not only address the need for territorial self-governance but also recognize the importance of economic independence and the dismantling of ideological and cultural constraints.

This approach seeks decolonization not only from perceived Israeli “imperialism,” but also from the restrictive and harmful “imperialisms” of entities like Hamas. It’s about reclaiming true independence and freedom on all fronts.

Moreover, framing the undertaking as a decolonization process opens the door to drawing inspiration from the successful strategies employed during the decolonization era of the 1950s and 60s. By adopting a decolonization mindset, we can unearth previously overlooked tools and mechanisms, enabling us to explore innovative avenues that may not have been considered before.

Trusteeship System

Consider, for example, the International Trusteeship System outlined in the UN Charter (Ch. XII, Articles 75-85). Stemming from the foundation laid by the mandate system of the League of Nations, this system has evolved and matured over time.

Established in 1945, the Trusteeship System emerged in response to the pressing concern of colonies belonging to nations defeated in the war. Its primary aim was to prevent these territories from falling prey to colonization by the victorious powers.

At its core, the system sought to place such colonies under the oversight of a trust country, subject to international supervision. The overarching goal was to foster the trustee territories’ inhabitants and promote development, ultimately steering them toward self-government and independence.

Highlighting the versatility of the Trusteeship System, a noteworthy instance of success unfolded when the United Nations assumed the role of a trust state in East Timor in 1999, leading to the establishment of the UN Transitional Administration in East Timor.

This initiative demonstrated the system’s effectiveness in facilitating infrastructure rebuilding, sustainable governance, the rule of law, and constitution drafting and elections.

Al-Shifa Hospital
An aerial view of the Al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza City where an alleged Hamas command center is situated. Photo: AFP

Achievable Reality

If we aspire to a stable Gaza and a potential Palestinian State, a pragmatic and gradualist approach is vital.

This involves entrusting a country or a consortium of nations with the role of trust states. The mandate should encompass a comprehensive “decolonization” of the Palestinian people — educationally, economically, culturally, and ideologically.

Simultaneously, efforts must be directed towards de-radicalizing elements hindering peace.

Anticipating initial resistance from the Palestinian community towards an external administrative government, it is vital to assert international pressure.

The message is clear: without embracing this approach, the dream of a self-governing Palestinian State may remain a dream forever. The journey towards lasting peace calls for bold and unconventional measures, echoing the successful precedents set by the Trusteeship System.

In confronting these challenges, we must draw inspiration from history’s triumphs and forge a path that ensures a future where peace in the Middle East becomes achievable.

Headshot Raphael LapinRaphael Lapin is an international relations scholar; a Harvard-trained negotiation, mediation, and dispute resolution specialist; and Professor of Law who teaches negotiation, mediation, and international conflict resolution at law school in Southern California.

His website:

The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial position of The Defense Post.

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