An important and timely reminder: conflicts can be resolved

An integral part of our work is studying other conflicts around the world and deriving lessons from the ways in which they were resolved. This month we invited experts from Northern Ireland to join their Israeli and Palestinian colleagues in discussing the similarities and differences between the conflict in Northern Ireland and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, in particular what lessons can be drawn and applied in a future process of reconciliation between Israelis and Palestinians.

One common feature of both conflicts was the feeling of despair. The Irish speakers admitted that they themselves had little faith that the conflict could be resolved until the agreement was signed, an impression that persisted for some time even after the signing. The feelings of helplessness and hopelessness are inherent to a long-standing conflict, they said, but we are measured by our ability to carry on despite them. As Peter Robinson, former First Minister of Northern Ireland, reminded us in his final remarks: "All conflicts can be resolved. I came here to say to you that even what appears to be impossible, is possible. So please, do not despair!"