Shrinking the Conflict: Debunking Israel’s New Strategy

Protest against Israeli settlements in the village of Beit Dajan in Nablus, Palestine - 25 Nov 2022
November 25, 2022, Nablus, West Bank, Palestine: A Palestinian protester holding a flag argues with the Israeli soldier during the demonstration against Israeli settlements in the village of Beit Dajan near the West Bank city of Nablus. (Credit Image: Nasser Ishtayeh/SOPA Images via ZUMA Press Wire/APAimages)

By Walid Habbas | Al-Shabaka: The Palestinian Policy Network | Mar 6, 2023

The “shrinking the conflict” approach falsely assumes that Palestinian resistance is apolitical and unrelated to the struggle for liberation from Israeli apartheid and occupation.


Since 2021, a growing number of Israeli leaders have proposed new policies to manage their occupation of the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and Gaza. These policies are rooted in the new concept of “shrinking the conflict” — an approach introduced in 2018 by Israeli historian Micah Goodman recommending the management of “the conflict below the threshold of war, while improving the fabric of life for the Palestinian population.”

The approach, which is a revised version of Benjamin Netanyahu’s “economic peace” model, aims to entrench the Israeli regime’s military occupation in order to prevent the establishment of either a Palestinian state or a one-state reality. Unlike the “economic peace” strategy, the “shrinking the conflict” approach is designed to reduce Palestinian “waves of terror and violent clashes” by purportedly broadening Palestinians’ freedoms within Israel’s system of apartheid.

This policy brief debunks Israel’s “shrinking the conflict” approach and the policy shifts it entails. It examines the government’s new economic decisions vis-a-vis the West Bank and Gaza, outlining their potential serious and irreversible implications for Palestinians. The brief argues that any amendments that fall short of total dismantlement of Israel’s systems of apartheid, occupation, and settler colonization would bring neither an improvement to Palestinians’ lives, nor their acquiescence to the status quo.1

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