The eternal war in Palestine

Will the Kosovo-strategy lead out of the conflict?

Corinna Metz


Desperately the Palestinians look for a way leading out of the conflict withIsrael, thus clasping every straw. Without scrutinising purpose and limits of the analogy, some Palestinian politicians have spotted a panacea for conflicts concerning the statehood in the unilateral Declaration of Independence of Kosovo 2008. This is especially expressed in the public declaration of the advisor of the Palestinian president, Yasser Abed Rabbo: “Kosovo is not better than we are. We deserve independence before Kosovo, and we demand the support by theUnited Statesand the European Union for our independence.” Despite his popularity, this approach was rejected by most of the members of the Palestinian management. Notwithstanding, political commentators and scientists picked up on this issue in order to discuss the relevance of a comparison of the conflicts about Kosovo andPalestinein the framework of a wider debate. The international relevance of both conflicts is beyond question. Kosovo is situated in the heart of Europe, andPalestinewith its geo-strategic importance is a subject of the perhaps most prolonged territorial conflict of world history. Nevertheless, there are fundamental differences between the conflicts which make them appear incomparable at first sight. These are, on the one hand, the differentness in the development of the two contested entities, and, on the other hand, the discriminative international acknowledgement of the right of statehood in both cases. Kosovo became a de-facto state by the secession fromSerbia, which had been motivated by the urgent requirement of the Kosovo-Albanian ethnic majority to disentangle from the prolonged Serbian repression, and partially even by the necessity to resist the attempts at obliterating the entire ethnic group. In the course of this, the Kosovo-Albanian national movements succeeded in making Kosovo, which had been under international trust for a long time, a case of an internationally supervised transition into conditional independence. This independence was finally declared in 2008 without the consent ofSerbia, followed by not comprehensive, but effective international acknowledgement of statehood. The only obvious common feature underlying both conflicts is the delayed statehood of Kosovo andPalestineafter the breakup of theOttoman Empire. Both in Kosovo and inPalestinethe suppressed ethnic group demands self-government in a region which has been inhabited together with the other ethnic group for a historically long time, a region where it actually represents the majority. Furthermore, in both conflicts highly symbolical national interests, such as the sacralisation of the country, are at stake. The detailed comparison ofPalestineand Kosovo demonstrates the limits and the sometimes propagandistical application of the analogy. Nevertheless, every approach which could subserve conflict solution ought to be considered, as the dramatic situation inPalestinecould easily lead to a comprehensive violence escalation in the already intensely destabilised region.