Israeli and Palestinian Stories. Can Mediators Reconfigure Incompatible Narratives?

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The rise of further tensions and wars in the Middle East interconnects, oversimplifies and radicalizes narratives. The aim of the article is to question the scope and practical limits of the mediators’ power regarding parties’ representations of the past. The study is divided into four parts. The first describes the specific challenge faced by practitioners. The other parts explore the Israeli‐Palestinian case, focusing on three distinct approaches to contradictory narratives. The first can be summarized by the formula ‘neither nor’ (neither the Israeli narrative, nor the Palestinian narrative). In concealing interpretations of the past, mediators try to do away with the ‘tyranny of the past’. The second approach takes into consideration ‘both the Israeli and the Palestinian narratives’. It tends to be inclusive and to consider all interpretations of the past. The third and last approach applies a ‘on the one hand, on the other hand’ reasoning in order to forge new interpretations of the past. At each stage of the research, the purpose is to question the actual impact of these approaches. Do they enable the parties to move on, or do they reinforce the deadlock? Do they open the minds of the negotiators or do they rather close them?