Maintaining conflict, stopping bloodshed: Lessons from 15 years of peace in Northern Ireland

Haggai Matar writes: Although Republicans and Unionists still have extremely different ideas as to where the country should be heading they still accept each other’s right to imagine opposite identities and futures. Fifteen years after the signing of the Good Friday Agreement, there is much Israelis and Palestinians can learn from Northern Ireland.

“No two conflicts are alike, and a solution that fits one conflict could never be copied successfully to anywhere else.” The same sentence, in minor variations, was said to me by countless members of the Northern Ireland Legislative Assembly, as well as journalists, academics and political activists during my short visit to Belfast about a month ago (which resulted in a piece published in Haaretz in Hebrew today). Had it not been coming from people who disagree on pretty much everything else and who support rival political parties, one might even assume they were all simply stating the party line.

All of them have a lot of experience talking to people like myself. Over the past couple of years most of them have either hosted or have been hosted by politicians, NGOs and journalists from conflict zones around the world trying to learn something from the model that put an end to the three decades of bloodshed during “The Troubles,” and the hundreds of years of conflict that preceded that period. But while it is true that one cannot simply copy and paste the Good Friday Agreement (signed this week 15 year ago, full text in PDF here) in order to create world peace, there is nothing wrong with tapping into the world of knowledge and experience the people of Northern Ireland have gained in order to try and rethink our own troubles here. [Continue reading…]

Print Friendly, PDF & Email