The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is arguably the most contentious and emotionally charged protracted identity-based conflict still raging in the world today.
This thesis argues that third-party mediation by small states such as Sweden has proved an indispensable tool of conflict management in such a conflict context. The conclusion and implementation of any permanent status agreement, however, will in all likelihood require multi-party mediation. Though bereft of coercive political power, Sweden has played an important role in the peace process by encouraging dialogue between Israelis and Palestinians determined to take concerted steps toward a negotiated, peaceful resolution to their conflict. Involvement has been possible thanks to excellent relations with the moderate peace camps of both sides.
Beginning with the initiation of relations between the US and the PLO in 1988, this thesis analyses the significance of contributions by Swedish mediators throughout the peace process. Additionally, it analyses the way each instance of small-state mediation, including the Norwegian mediation of the Oslo Accords, was informed and influenced by the efforts that preceded it. Historical analysis suggests the American mediating role in the negotiations themselves should be minimal. A coercive bargaining strategy for which America is best equipped and is most likely to wield is unlikely to yield concessions on the existential issues that drive the conflict. As the world's pre-eminent superpower and Israel's closest ally, the US will undoubtedly be indispensable to the finalising, sponsorship and implementation of any eventual permanent status agreement. Accountability, perhaps the main American failing during the Oslo process, should be their main focus. For lasting peace to prevail, Israelis and Palestinians must widely acknowledge the legitimacy of the other, and recognise that their own existence and security is intertwined with that of their counterpart. Third parties can help bring them together and try to appeal to their mutual interests, but cannot make the necessary concessions for them.