How Northern Ireland Peace Process Reached Its Destination While Israel/Palestine Deal Was Derailed

In the 1970s and 1980s there seemed to be two conflicts which were utterly intractable – The Troubles in Northern Ireland and the Israeli/Palestinian conflict.

Both generated horrific terrorist attacks.

The Provisional IRA regularly bombed civilian targets on mainland Britain, including pubs, department stores and financial centres and shot dead off-duty police officers in Northern Ireland, while the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) and various Palestinian splinter groups hijacked passenger jets, bombed Israeli targets and in 1982 tried to assassinate the Israeli ambassador to London.

In 1987 the first intifada – or uprising – broke out with Palestinian youths in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip hurling stones and petrol bombs at israel Defence Force (IDF) troops who would respond with bullets.

Spiral Of Violence

Two years later Abd al-Hadi Ghanim, a member of Palestinian Islamic Jihad, grabbed the steering on a bus heading into Jerusalem, sending it into a ravine and killing 16 Israeli commuters. Miraculously Ghanim survived and was later jailed, only to be released in 2011 in exchange for captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit.

​The hatred in Northern Ireland – between pro-British Protestants and Irish Catholics – and between Jews and Arabs in Israel/Palestine was deep-rooted and visceral.

There seemed no political or military solution to either conflict.

The IRA wanted a united Ireland which the all-powerful British state would never concede and the…

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