For more than 70 years, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has affected the Middle East landscape. A comprehensive diplomatic solution has defied international efforts, leaving publics disillusioned about the prospect of peace. Large-scale violence ebbs and flows, leaving communities insecure and enabling the conflict to persist as a rallying tool for extremist actors, thereby demanding continued U.S. and international attention.

Yet amid this challenging context lie pockets of potential for advancing a sustainable resolution to the conflict. An established Israeli and Palestinian civil society ecosystem works to advance prospects for a just and lasting peace, and regional geopolitical shifts could offer new openings to forge progress toward Israeli-Palestinian and broader regional conflict resolution.

USIP’S WORK

For three decades, USIP has worked on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and Arab-Israeli relations. Through dialogue, analysis and joint action at the grassroots and policy levels, USIP works to strengthen diplomatic peacemaking efforts; empower Palestinian and Israeli civil society actors working to build trust within and between their societies; enhance community security for Israelis and Palestinians; and build institutional capabilities that prepare the ground for a just, peaceful and sustainable solution to the conflict.

USIP has also supported over 200 grantees and more than two dozen fellows to conduct innovative work on the conflict. Recent work includes:

Convening Experts and Informing Policy

USIP convenes American, Israeli, Palestinian and international experts to jointly develop analysis and actionable recommendations to inform the policy community. As a trusted convener across a spectrum of views, the Institute informs the policymaking process through working groups, analysis and briefings. This work includes:

  • The Study Group on Arab-Israeli Peacemaking. Since 2008, the study group has developed a set of best practices for American diplomacy; produced two publications: “Negotiating Arab-Israeli Peace” and “The Peace Puzzle: America’s Quest for Arab-Israeli Peace 1989–2011;” and is developing a third volume of lessons learned from American efforts to bring about Israeli-Palestinian peace.
  • The initiative on Changing Regional Dynamics and Prospects for Israeli-Palestinian Peace which, in partnership with the Baker Institute for Public Policy at Rice University, convenes American and international experts to evaluate evolving Israeli-regional relations and generate recommendations for leveraging the current context to prevent deterioration and promote progress toward resolving the Israeli-Palestinian and broader Arab-Israeli conflict. 

Enhancing Community Security and Institutional Capacity

Through ongoing partnerships with local leaders, U.S. government representatives and the international community, the Institute contributes expertise to building effective Palestinian institutions and enhancing Israeli-Palestinian cooperation that can improve conditions on the ground, build confidence and trust, and ripen conditions for a sustainable diplomatic solution. 

In partnership with the Office of the Quartet, USIP mapped police movement and access realities in the West Bank, enabling the most extensive expansion of Palestinian communities’ access to their own policing services in 15 years.

graphic on middle east quartet

Leveraging its expertise, the Institute works closely with senior Palestinian and Israeli security authorities, and the Office of the U.S. Security Coordinator, to ensure coordination that bolsters safety and security for Palestinians and Israelis and enhances rule of law. USIP also works with both sides and international partners to enable a more robust Palestinian economy.

Fostering Religious and Interreligious Peacebuilding Engagement

Faith leaders can be crucial to diplomatic processes, but too often these religious voices have been excluded from Israeli-Palestinian diplomatic and grassroots efforts.

USIP is working to make the peacebuilding process more inclusive and effective by supporting local partners who facilitate dialogue, problem solving and joint action among Israeli and Palestinian religious leaders. The Institute funds and guides work that encourages faith leader cooperation to bridge divides, mitigate violence and provide a model for collaboration that protects holy sites and their visitors.

Bridging Divides, Empowering Peacebuilders

USIP leverages its broad and deep set of relationships to strengthen the capacity of Israeli and Palestinian peacebuilding organizations, serving as a hub for learning, skill-building and strategic connections to build a more resilient and impactful field.

Through grants and trainings, the Institute provides Israeli and Palestinian youth with the resources and skills to engage in constructive dialogue, develop leadership skills, identify shared challenges and design and implement joint action projects that prepare the ground for peace.

With local partner graphic

Related Publications

Can the ‘New Normalizers’ Advance Israeli-Palestinian Peace?

Can the ‘New Normalizers’ Advance Israeli-Palestinian Peace?

Wednesday, June 16, 2021

By: Ambassador Hesham Youssef

The recent outbreak of Israeli-Palestinian violence raised renewed discussion on how Arab states that inked normalization agreements with Israel in 2020 can advance peace between Israelis and Palestinians. The “new normalizers” (UAE, Bahrain, Sudan and Morocco) may be weighing the pros and cons of heavily involving themselves in efforts to resolve this protracted conflict but should not dismiss the opportunity. They can and should play a more proactive and constructive role, which would enhance regional stability and prosperity and advance the normalizers’ own interests. It will be up to the international community, the Palestinians and regional stakeholders to bring them into the peacemaking fold.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Peace Processes

10 Things to Know: Biden’s Approach to the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

10 Things to Know: Biden’s Approach to the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

Thursday, June 10, 2021

By: Ambassador Hesham Youssef

Coming into office, the Biden administration was clear that the Middle East would largely take a backseat in its foreign policy agenda. But recent developments in Jerusalem and the 11-day war on Gaza forced the Israeli-Palestinian conflict back into the forefront of international attention and revealed elements of the administration’s approach to the conflict. U.S. policy on the conflict has long been a point of bipartisan harmony, with more consensus than contention. The Biden administration’s emerging policy largely aligns with past administrations’ policies, with a few notable differences. But can this approach advance peace amid this protracted conflict?

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Peace Processes

Can Israel’s New Coalition ‘Change’ the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict?

Can Israel’s New Coalition ‘Change’ the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict?

Thursday, June 3, 2021

By: Lucy Kurtzer-Ellenbogen

With minutes to spare before his mandate to form a coalition expired, Yair Lapid, the leader of Israel’s center-left Yesh Atid party, announced that he had formed a governing bloc. This announcement could usher in an Israeli government that, for the first time in 12 years, is not led by Benjamin Netanyahu. The down-to-the-wire negotiations befit the prior two years of Israeli political drama — with four elections held since April 2019. While this potentially portends a new, post-Netanyahu chapter in Israeli politics, it is unlikely that the ideologically disparate coalition cobbled together by Lapid —with Naftali Bennet, a hard-right politician, at its helm — will yield significant progress toward peace.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Peace Processes; Democracy & Governance

The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict Amid a New Reality and a New Region

The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict Amid a New Reality and a New Region

Wednesday, May 26, 2021

By: Ambassador Hesham Youssef

Thirty years ago, the Madrid Middle East Peace Conference aimed to resolve the Arab-Israeli conflict and initiated what we now think of as the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. Three decades later, the world and the region have undergone tectonic changes, bearing little resemblance to 1991 when the Cold War came to a close. Yet, Israeli and Palestinian leaders are still dealing with their conflict as if it is business as usual. The time has come for them to take a more sober look at the global and regional trends that spell trouble for them and their peoples. Without such a reorientation from leadership on both sides, it is likely that there will be continued and escalating rounds of violence like what we witnessed this past month.  

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Peace Processes

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