How has Israeli women’s peace activism contributes to the Israeli-Palestinian peace project since 1993?

Dissertation by: Joséphine Moreau

Joséphine is a French national involved in a long-standing love affair with London. She graduated in the summer of 2016 from King’s College London with a Bachelor (Hons) in International Relations, and is currently reading an MSc in Conflict Studies at the London School of Economics and Political Science. Her research interests focus on gender relations in times of conflict and post-conflict, terrorism and the Middle East.



Following their rise to the Israeli political stage during the first Intifada, Israeli women peace activists expected to be given a greater voice and recognition in the Middle East Peace Process.[1] However, from the 1993 Oslo Accords onwards, their absence from high-level negotiations made their marginalisation from the official process strikingly obvious, and their activism was constrained to a civil society, grassroots level.[2] This therefore begs the question: How has Israeli women’s peace activism contributed to the Israeli-Palestinian peace project since 1993?

This dissertation will read this question as both an investigation into the extent to which and tools through which Israeli women’s peace activism has contributed to the peace project, two approaches which are closely intertwined. Drawing upon conflict resolution and feminist theory, it will assess the role which gender has played in Israeli women’s activism and join the debate on the efficiency of civil society-based peacebuilding.

Overall, this dissertation will argue that Israeli women’s peace activism since 1993 has introduced a new frame for the peace project, analytically and practically, stepping away from Track One diplomacy to focus on the essential task of reconciling Israeli and Palestinian civil societies through a more egalitarian partnership imbued with intersectionality. Subsequently, while its influence on the overall project has been hindered by internal weaknesses and external constraints, Israeli women’s peace activism model offers great potential in advancing the peace project. This will be demonstrated through a three-folded approach.

Firstly, this dissertation will analyse women’s exclusion from high-level diplomacy, and conclude that a mainstream reading of negotiations since Oslo suggests they have had a very limited influence on the formal peace process. Nonetheless, adopting a feminist stance it will affirm that further women’s inclusion could improve negotiations’ likelihood of success. It will also highlight women’s essential back-door input in high-level talks and their erasure from the Israeli narrative to suggest that a feminist reading of negotiations provides a frame in which women’s role can be better employed and recognised.

Subsequently, building on conflict resolution literature, this dissertation will underscore the contribution of Israeli women peace activists to grassroots peacebuilding efforts, and demonstrate the key role such initiatives play in advancing the peace project, distancing themselves from the traditional Track One frame. Linking these initiatives to women’s exclusion from Track One diplomacy, it will nonetheless conclude that their importance and efficiency have been undermined by the very constraints of civil society, public opinion on feminism and lack of governmental support.

Finally, this dissertation will critically analyse the failure of the Israeli women’s peace movement to recognise the power asymmetry between themselves and their Palestinian counterparts and within their ranks, identifying it as one of the main impediments constraining Israeli women’s peacebuilding capacities. Subsequently, a new intersectional frame will be introduced, calling upon the Israeli women’s peace movement to reflect on its diversity, in line with growing ‘third wave’ feminism in Israel, to expand that approach to the Conflict and bridge the gap between both sides’ civil societies.

Literature review

The study of women’s involvement in conflicts and their resolution has greatly benefitted from the rise of multi-level approaches to conflict resolution in the past decades. A major turning point occurred in 1982 when Montville’s coined ‘Track Two diplomacy’ as ‘an unofficial, informal interaction between members of adversary groups or nations that aims to develop strategies, influence public opinion, and organise human and material resources in ways that might help to resolve the conflict.’[3] Since, nine new tracks have been listed, including ever more actors and allowing their sequential or parallel engagement.[4] Conflict resolution theory therefore now confers more legitimacy and recognition to civil society peace activism, and notably women, echoing Enloe’s claim that the personal is both political and international.[5] Nevertheless, feminist scholars such as Reimann have criticised the field for being ‘gender-blind’[6] and sought to develop a new approach to conflict resolution and peace theory, more inclusive of women and recognising their differential input: feminist peace theory.

This approach understands women’s gender to be more conducive to peaceful relations, and highlights characteristics such as empathy, honesty, morality, conciliation and trustworthiness are being particularly feminine, [7] differing from men’s who Maoz argues are traditionally viewed as more ‘confident, competitive, independent, assertive, dominant, and forceful.’[8] Consequently, authors such as Babbit and d’Estree[9] have argued that women are better suited to conduct peace negotiations, and lead people-to-people diplomacy and dialogue groups, than men. Proponents of the feminist peace project have nonetheless differed in their depictions of the source of these traits, with authors such as Reardon adopting a constructivist stance, arguing those were developed as a result of centuries of women’s restriction to the private sphere and the necessity for them to mediate internal community tensions.[10] Others have moved for more essentialist arguments, ranging from biology to motherhood.[11]

The feminist peace project and its ‘women and peace’ hypothesis have come under fire by a range of feminist authors and women activists, not only for being reductive of the wide panel of individualities women represent, but also for its failure to account for the fluidity of identities and their propensity to be remodelled, especially in times of conflict, as highlighted by Sharoni[12] and Kandiyoti.[13] Additionally, the feminist peace project, by its homogenizing view on women, has been strongly condemned by feminist scholars for advancing the ‘global sisterhood’ concept, defined as the universal uniting of women around gender only through their joint experience of shared oppression under patriarchy, and most particularly by intersectional feminists.[14]

Literature on the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict and the Israeli women’s peace movement is riddled by allusions to the feminist peace project. Several authors and activists, have echoed the belief in the existence of ‘feminine characteristics’ coming into play in negotiations and colouring women’s performances. However, they have not all done so to the same extent; Golan and Kamal, for example, have adopted it as an explanatory factor for their theory of women’s superiority at people-to-people activities and have embraced the notions of ‘global sisterhood’ and that barriers may be ‘overcome through women’s “shared experience” of living in patriarchal societies.’[15] Others have, more compellingly, discussed expectations and perceptions of ‘feminine traits,’ such as Maoz and Kray et al., arguing those have a more potent effect on negotiation outcomes and performances than the traits and gender themselves.[16]

Unconvinced by the mixed results of empirical accounts attempting to demonstrate women’s superior problem-solving skills, as illustrated by Tessler and Warriner,[17] I have placed stronger emphasis on the perceptions-based argument throughout this dissertation. I have also, after in-depth analysis of the weaknesses and limits of joint Israeli-Palestinian women’s initiatives, been very sceptical of the ‘global sisterhood’ paradigm; instead, and drawing from intersectional theory including facets other than gender such as race, socio-economic status and context in the construction of identities, as underlined by Daniele, I have stressed the failure of the Israeli side to recognise asymmetries between both groups as a key factor for the demise of dialogue.[18] I have further broadened my overall argument by including literature on NGO mobilisation and its strengths and weaknesses in conflict resolution, which I found to be relatively thin in mainstream feminist literature.



Originally intended to include both sides of the Israeli-Palestinian women’s peace movements, this dissertation’s focus has been narrowed to provide a deeper analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of the Israeli party. This decision has also been motivated by the asymmetry of literature and resources covering the movements, with the Israeli side constituting the majority of the research focus, and the language barrier presented by Palestinian organisations’ primary resources. Consequently, this dissertation relies on a combination of primary and secondary sources, with a predominance of the latter as they often provide more critical and in-depth analysis and criticism of the movement. Indeed, the majority of its primary sources, being Israeli women’s peace organisations’ websites, such as those of New Profile, Bat Shalom and the Coalition of Women, have been useful in identifying their mobilisation tools, premises, agendas, histories and ambitions, primarily through historical documents such as declarations of principles, charters and public statements, but less so in exposing their strengths and limitations. This leaning towards secondary sources has to some extent been palliated by the fact that some authors, such as Golan, have also been involved in the peace movements; Golan was one of the Jerusalem Link and Bat Shalom’s leading members.[19] Aharoni and Daniele have also made extensive use of interviews with female activists, and others such as Maoz and Kray et al. have produced empirical experiments in attempts to better understand the formation and impact of ‘gendered’ traits and characteristics, allowing for more critical analysis on the part of the writer. Finally, this dissertation has required strong engagement with both feminist and conflict resolution theory to provide analytical frameworks through which to frame the argument, and which were found in a combination of resources including and excluding the Israeli case study.

  1. Excluded and marginalised: women’s limited presence in high-level negotiations has reduced their influence on the peace process

When addressing the extent to which Israeli women’s peace activism has contributed to the advancement of the peace project in the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, the first analytical frame one considers is that of high-level negotiations. However, much of the empirical literature on women’s involvement and input as peace activists in the Conflict concerns grassroots and civil society-based efforts, reflecting a stark reality for women: they have largely been excluded from high-level negotiations, therein limiting their influence.[20] In this first section, I will therefore discuss the reasons for this exclusion, and assess its impact on negotiations. My focus will be on demonstrating how gendered constructions and expectations of women’s performances as individual negotiators have left them on the side-lines of top-level talks rather than as non-governmental organisations (NGOs). While the latter have proven to possess potential as efficient mediating third parties between conflicting parties,[21] the vast majority of authors do not consider the organisational structure of Israeli women’s activism, but rather the binary understanding of women’s differential negotiating traits as being the source of their marginalisation in top-level diplomacy.

I will therefore address and explain women’s limited presence in Track One (governmental actors) diplomacy[22] and the consequences it has had on the negotiation process since 1993 through a triple-stranded approach. Firstly, I will review diverging feminist claims on women’s differential traits and approach to conflict resolution, to conclude that it is Israeli perceptions and expectations of women’s performances as negotiators which have resulted in their marginalisation. Then, grounding my analysis on Aharoni’s gender-culture double bind theory, I will demonstrate that Israeli diplomats have projected an Orientalist and gender-essentialist image upon their Palestinian counterparts, legitimising the lack of female members in their delegations and ostracising Palestinian negotiators. Finally, I will nuance my approach to women’s exclusion from negotiations by stressing their heavy involvement in mid-level negotiations and support operations, therein challenging the exclusionary mainstream Israeli understandings of negotiations.

  • ‘Feminine’ negotiating characteristics as untapped and misunderstood resources

High-level negotiators in the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict have been overwhelmingly male in the past two-and-a-half-decades, despite the rise of a few select women. Among these, the most renowned were Palestinian Hanan Ashrawi, and former Israeli Foreign Minister and lead negotiator of the Annapolis conference and process, Tzipi Livni.[23] The rise of such female figures should however not be overstated: although they have been widely recognised as key actors in the peace process, they have been two of the very few women to officially partake in it.[24] In addition, their achievements were respectively described as originating from public relation strategies[25] and actively anti-feminine stances and negotiating behaviours.[26] Why, then, were so few women involved in high-level negotiations and their gender undermined, when women in the Middle-East have been ‘the first ones to declare their intent to be involved in peace negotiations’?[27]

Paradoxically, the most common justification for women’s absence in high-level negotiations is the ‘feminine’ characteristics which they are attributed and which, in mainstream feminist discourse, are qualified as their main strength as potential negotiators and mediators in conflict resolution. These ‘feminine’ traits are tied to the gender-essentialist notion that women share more peaceful aims and stances than men, who are more likely to resort to violence and intimidation to achieve their goals.[28] In negotiations, they allegedly translate in ‘less confident, competitive, independent, assertive, dominant, and forceful’ behaviours,[29] but also allow women to transpire as more trustworthy, conciliatory and empathetic counterparts for the opposing side.[30] While these gender narratives or ‘stereotypes’[31] themselves are contested amongst feminist scholars, with post-modernist academics denouncing them as broad generalisations in face of the diverse panel of individuals, behaviours and histories which women constitute,[32] the origins of this feminine pacifism is also hotly debated. The most essentialist interpretation of its source is that of motherhood, which can be seen either through a cultural feminist lens ‘in which the “female” values of caring and nurturance are given prominence’ or through ‘moral motherhood’ which ‘incline[s] women toward “preservative love” and the elimination of violence in human relations.’[33] A more compelling and contextualised understanding of the emergence of these traits is that of gendered traits as the result of centuries-long narrative constructions, in which women’s restriction to the private sphere has instilled them with the skills to mediate conflicts and accommodate differences in a conciliatory fashion, with their main aim to safeguard their communities’ relationships.[34] In addition, women’s exclusion from the public stage and their status as ‘unofficial second class citizens’ enables them to relate to marginalised opponents, and vice versa.[35] This image of ‘feminine’ traits and situation within their own societies therefore support the argument that women constitute an under-exploited resource with significant potential in conflict resolution. However, these same characteristics have been widely interpreted by diplomatic circles as a threat to negotiation outcomes: diplomats and leaders are concerned women may compromise too much.[36]

Despite this widely internalised and accepted assimilation of women with pacifism, scholars have struggled to demonstrate its authenticity, with studies showing mixed results as to the concept’s validity.[37] This does not imply that it has no incidence on the way different genders negotiate or their conducts are interpreted; to the contrary, it deeply affects perceptions of discussions and, in turn, their outcomes. Through an innovative experiment, Maoz[38] compellingly demonstrates the weight which Palestinian negotiators’ gender carries on Israelis’ reception of their proposals and offers. Having selected eighty Israeli-Jewish university students, he divided them in four groups, each receiving a fictive Palestinian compromise proposal for a Two States Peace Plan. Each group was then informed of a different national and gender identity for the person having submitted the proposal, respectively and Israeli man, Israeli woman, a Palestinian man and Palestinian woman. When asked to evaluate whether the identical proposal was favourable to the Israeli side, a gendered evaluation effect transpired: the students rated more favourably the proposal made by the female than the male Palestinian opponents, assuming its conceiver’s feminine gender meant it would be fairer and more trustworthy. However, they were more favourable to the proposal when they believed it was produced by an Israeli man than an Israeli woman. This implies a considerable double-standard in Israel’s perception of female negotiators, but also that including more women in both sides of the negotiations could be more conducive to compromise and consensus in the Conflict. In Maoz’s words, ‘the very stereotype portraying women as more peace-oriented than men…(regardless of its validity) may grant women with an increased capability of waging or promoting peace,’ if only Israeli society can accept women’s legitimate role as negotiators.[39]

  • Aharoni’s gender-culture double bind[40] and the Orientalising[41] of the Palestinian side

Much has been written, said and internalised by Israeli society on the binary ‘culture clash’ opposing East and West in the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict.[42] One of the most prominent thinkers in this field, whose reflections have had the longest-lasting impact upon Israeli understanding of the Arab ‘strategic culture’ is Cohen.[43] In his book Culture and Conflict in Egyptian and Israeli Relations,[44] Cohen legitimised three widespread assumptions: that Israeli-Arab relations were underwritten by incompatible East-West identities, that Arab culture was characterised by collectivism, and that its people placed heavy importance on the notions of ‘shame’ and ‘honour’, the latter being closely associated to stereotypical ‘manliness.’[45] In turn, this bolstered two assumptions on Palestinian diplomats, reinforcing the Orientalist ‘us versus them’ myth of the Other: that they would irrationally defend their tribe’s ‘honour’ and independence at the expense of compromise, and that they considered negotiating with women to be humiliating.[46] This understanding, which justified in Israeli diplomats’ eyes the limited number of female negotiators they hired to work with Palestinians, is therefore, in the words of Aharoni, an expression of a gender-culture double bind, in which preconceptions about culture reinforce gender stereotypes.[47] This analysis echoes Yegenoglu’s postcolonial feminist critique of Orientalist approaches as intertwining representations of sexual and cultural differences.[48]

This Israeli perception of women’s weak negotiating skills and position vis-à-vis an emboldened Palestinian masculinity does not, however, stand its ground. Firstly, it does not account for what Kleiman coins the diplomatic ‘shared culture,’ in which popular traditions and values are subdued to diplomatic organisational subcultures, bridging the cultural gap between conflicting sides.[49] In addition, the few Israeli women who have had the opportunity to work directly with Palestinian negotiators recount their experience as very positive, with some even asserting they faced less gender-discriminatory behaviours with them than within their own delegations.[50] In interviews with Aharoni, they revealed that they believed this was due to the reduced power asymmetry between themselves and Palestinian men; they ‘engage[d] in constructive negotiations by utilising their peripheral position vis-à-vis the hegemonic Israeli man-as-negotiator.’[51] From the Palestinian side, their preference to work with women therefore transpires as logical; it allowed them to avoid asymmetrical masculine power struggles, which were particularly unequal considering that Israeli negotiators often were high-ranking generals, and Palestinians former prisoners.[52] It must also be noted that being opposed to exultingly masculine Israeli negotiators reinforced Palestinians’ emphasis of their own masculine traits, just as military occupation emboldened Palestinian ‘practices of masculinity…related to rites of resistance, imprisonment, martyrdom, and endurance of physical or emotional pain.’[53]

  • Israeli women’s input at the lower levels of negotiations was largely marginalised and silenced

A common belief, and one which this dissertation has highlighted so far in depicting the very limited presence of women in high-level negotiations, is voiced by Finkel as the fact that ‘throughout modern history and across the world, women have generally played minor roles in conflict resolution and peace negotiations.’[54] A thorough analysis of negotiations during the Oslo Peace Process, however, proves this perception to be wrong:  Israeli women played an essential role in backstage personnel, be they secretaries, professional and legal advisors or midlevel negotiators.[55] This begs two questions: why were women secluded to these ‘second class’ positions? And is this negative framing of ‘support’ operations representative of their input in the negotiations process?

This ‘gendered division of labour within Israeli negotiating bodies’,[56] as we have seen, was justified by an essentialist and Orientalist depiction of the gendered and national depiction of Palestinian culture. To a large extent, however, it was also justified by the preponderance of the ‘Israeli Security Network’ in formal negotiating bodies, signalled by the leading role the Israeli Defence Force’s  Strategic Planning Unit played in the preparation ahead of talks and the ongoing assessments provided by the Shabak and Mosad.[57] Beyond the structure of the talks, women’s exclusion from higher ranks was again justified by their alleged feminine traits; a former general argued that women’s paucity in Israeli negotiating bodies was an ‘incidental’ consequence of the Accords’ focus on territory and security, masculine fields.[58] What then appeared as a rational justification for women’s absence –their limited number in high-ranking military positions, can thus be tied to gendered perceptions of ‘masculine’ fields and characteristics, leading Livni to assert that ‘there’s a twisted logic, which says that defence issues belong to men.’[59] In addition, because women largely occupied ‘support’ roles, it is essentially high-ranking male diplomats who recounted their experiences of the Process in ‘peace memoirs’, displaying overt heroic and militarised masculine stances.[60] Given the public’s limited access to official documents on the Oslo Process, this explains why its masculinised narrative dominates collective understandings of the negotiations.[61]

However, women’s limited numbers in high-level negotiating positions does not comprehensively account for their absence in the Israeli narrative on the Process; to echo Chinkin, ‘even when they are not deliberately excluded, women’s activities are not seen as political and/or even engaging with public welfare’[62] meaning the issue goes beyond underrepresentation. Indeed, women acting in negotiation support roles played an essential role in the Process, as highlighted by Marit Danon, former personal secretary to Yitzhak Rabin:

‘The secretaries’ work essentially enabled a normal, sane environment on a daily basis…This job, which seems invisible, actually has power, strength and importance. A woman who is a good coordinator could hold together the work done by a group of people negotiating out there.’[63]

Female midlevel negotiators, whose numbers were relatively important due to the breadth of committees involved in negotiating economic, legal and civil affairs, similarly felt their importance in the Process was undermined by higher societal consideration for militarised masculinity.[64] In practice, however, they played a significant role in advancing the Process and were often more successful than men in reaching consensus with their Israeli counterparts. The Joint Telecommunication Committee, for example, was largely female-led, and its members’ conciliatory stance led to the resolving of postal issues and improvement of Israeli-Palestinian relations.[65]

It therefore transpires that, to account for Israeli women’s input in official negotiations in the peace process, Israel’s definition and understanding of formal peace work must be remoulded to include and recognise its heterogeneous forms. In addition, an analysis of the experience of women who were involved in the process uncovers that they frequently felt their skills and work were undermined by their gender, when in reality many believed that their negotiating stances were more amenable to conflict resolution, even at a lower scale, than Israeli male negotiators, and yielded better results. This leads us to conclude that rather than exclusively looking at Palestinian culture and its relationship to gender to justify Israeli women’s limited participation in formal negotiations, Israelis should revisit their own stance on gender to create new spaces for women in their delegations. And, as demonstrated, this could lead to more successful conflict resolution.

2. Turning toward Track Two diplomacy and civil society-based peacebuilding: a gender-coloured approach to the peace project

Having been largely excluded from formal peace negotiations, Israeli women turned to other frames to advance the conflict resolution project: Track Two diplomacy and grassroots peacebuilding.[66] This orientation toward more informal approaches to resolving the Conflict, or at least preparing the ground for its future resolution, proved particularly essential in the maintenance of dialogue and peacebuilding, as it soon transpired that formal negotiations, including Oslo, were sporadic and failed to sustain durable peace.[67] While they were well-aware that this involvement, particularly through the establishment of women’s peace associations, dialogue groups, collaborative and solidarity initiatives,[68] did not yield the same kind of influence as high-level official negotiations, women engaged in these activities to dissolve the psychological barrier separating Israelis and Palestinians.[69] This commitment to providing a new framework to advance the peace project boomed during the first Intifada and in the years following the Oslo Accords, despite the overall demobilisation of the Israeli peace movement post-1993.[70] These translated into extensive people-to-people activities,[71] mostly organised through emerging or emboldened women’s non-governmental organisations (NGOs) such as Bat Shalom, Women In Black, and later, Machsom Watch, New Profile and the Coalition of Women for Peace.

In this section, I will inscribe my analysis of Israeli women’s contribution to the Middle-East peace project into a broader assessment of the added value of civil society and NGOs’ grassroots peace activism and people-to-people activities to conflict resolution. I will start by addressing the benefits of this alternative framework of cooperation, to which Israeli women’s peace groups’ adhered. Then, I will analyse the specificities of women’s groups, arguing that their gender has both positively and negatively coloured the outcome of their activities. Finally, I will return to the broader picture of civil society and NGO-based peace activism, and illustrate its limitations through a study of Israeli public and governmental resistance to its endeavours and their repercussions on women’s projects.

  • The benefits of informal and civil society-based peace activism

Following the first Intifada, Israeli women engaged in Track Two diplomacy and civil society-based peacebuilding to counter the effects of decades of antagonising and demonising narratives amongst both sides, with the hope that this would lead to more fertile grounds for a peace settlement and improve women’s conditions in Israel-Palestine.[72] To begin with, ‘Track Two diplomacy’ was coined in Montville as ‘an unofficial, informal interaction between members of adversary groups or nations that aims to develop strategies, influence public opinion, and organise human and material resources in ways that may help to resolve their conflict.’[73] It therefore falls under Lederach’s holistic definition of peacebuilding as the construction of sustainable and peaceful relationships and the addressing of underlying causes of conflict by a wide variety of actors, including civil society, before, during and after a conflict.[74] ‘Civil society,’ a contested concept,[75] is understood as an entity separate from the state, market and family where people organise to advance common goals, usually structured in voluntary organisations making political demands.[76]

All these concepts and their proponents stress the importance of recognition and reconciliation of parties through joint endeavours and transformative dialogue to achieve a just and lasting peace.[77] Indeed, as they are not confronted to the obstacles which state actors are faced with, such as the concern over legitimising rebel groups or electoral strategies,[78] civil society members are freer to develop new understandings of peacemaking and engage with opposing actors.[79] Such endeavours have proven to be effective in reducing stereotypes on opponents, including in the case of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict. Notably, the Israel-Palestine Centre for Research and Information coordinated in 1998 a series of dialogue workshops involving Palestinian and Israeli youth and concluded that participants perceived the other side as more ‘tolerant’ and ‘good hearted’ following the experiment.[80] That is not only beneficial to the improvement of relations and trust between negotiators in the lead up to negotiations, but also to facilitate agreements’ implementation; community consultation, dialogue and engagement are critical to civil society’s acceptance of an agreement’s terms, but also to sustainable disarmament.[81] Additionally, civil society actors maintaining communication lines open with conflicting parties allows a better understanding of armed groups’ aims and can survive even in times of direct confrontation.[82] This was the case during the Al-Aqsa Intifada, when women’s groups rapidly mobilised to assure dialogue with their Palestinian counterparts.[83]

The importance of engaging in such dialogue in the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict cannot be overstated, as decades of confrontation have led to the construction of both a physical and psychological barrier between the parties.[84] Women rapidly understood the challenge this entailed, and rose to denounce the military occupation of the West Bank and increase awareness among Israeli civil society of its illegal nature and the human rights breaches it represented. They engaged in ‘civil resistance through small everyday acts such as writing letters to…editors’[85] to denounce the Israeli ‘militarised society,’ as stated by New Profile.[86] Others such as Women In Black have instead chosen to demonstrate weekly to remind the Israeli population of the continuing occupation, and have served as models for ‘worldwide networks of women committed to peace with justice and actively opposed to injustice, war, militarism.’[87] Taking on a more proactive role in fighting human rights abuses in the occupation by Israeli soldiers, Machsom Watch monitors and reports daily on the Israeli army’s checkpoints in the Occupied Territories with the help of an estimated 400 participants, therein raising awareness on the Palestinian cause but also giving a more human face of Israel to Palestinians.[88] Finally, in addressing more directly the issue of dialogue divide between Israeli and Palestinian civil societies, Israeli women committed to bridging the gap through joint endeavours, the most famous being the Jerusalem Link. Created in 1994, the initiative associated Israeli women’s group Bat Shalom and the Palestinian Jerusalem Center for Women, increasing joint women’s dialogue workshops and people-to-people activities.[89] In its Declaration of Principles, it stressed that ‘women must be central partners in the peace process’ and called for the ‘recognition of the right to self-determination of both peoples in the land, through the establishment of a Palestinian state alongside Israel on the June 4, 1967 boundaries.’[90] While keeping their autonomy and considering the work they did within their own communities as their priority, both associations committed to ‘promot[ing] a joint vision of a just peace, democracy, human rights, and women’s leadership.’[91]

  • Gender, feminism and resistance

Why do Israeli women peace activists choose to work in women-only groups? Echoing the concerns raised by women involved in high-level negotiations, female activists have denounced the gender-discriminatory attitude of Israeli men, and the lack of respect they showed toward their female counterparts, even in Track Two groupings.[92] Golan and Kamal share how this translated into discriminatory practices: women were ‘ignored in mixed groups,’ ‘not invited to the planning or agenda-setting for the meetings,’ and ’interrupted.’[93] Similarly, women who were members of mixed-group ‘Peace Now’ have reported that they felt invisible in the association, and were only allowed in public positions subsequently to repeated complaints in the 1990s.[94] However, this represents only part of the picture, the ‘push factor’ which led to women’s departure from mixed-gender groups; additionally, several authors have highlighted that those gender-exclusive spaces enabled Israeli women to relate their experience of oppression as gendered Others in Israeli society to that of national Others, Palestinians.[95] It also allegedly facilitated dialogue with Palestinian women activists through the ‘’shared’ experience of living in patriarchal societies.’[96] In accordance, several studies have found that problem-solving workshops and dialogue groups were most successful when constituted of female participants.[97] Finally, activists and scholars have argued that their experience of communal and societal life meant their holistic understanding of security differed from that of men, going beyond the absence of war to encompass and address fields such as human rights, suffering and development, all relevant to assure a sustainable peace.[98]

Despite their recognition of these women-only associations as facilitating dialogue both within their ranks and with their Palestinian counterparts, the association of Israeli women’s gender with their activism, and most particularly with feminism, often had the contradictory effect to that intended. Indeed, within the military-dominated Israeli society, women adopting a feminist stance and publicly criticising governmental lines constituted a double challenge: one to the patriarchy and another to the occupation.[99] In line with this statement, a comparison between organisations displaying an overtly feminist and disruptive agenda and those which challenged the occupation from within the normative Israeli gender framework, most notably by insisting on the notion of ‘motherhood’, proves that the latter were more successful in securing public opinion.[100] Women In Black members, for example, by retreating from the ‘private’ home to repeatedly take up public space and embody the Palestinians’ silenced voices as well as those fallen throughout the conflict and the occupation, subverted gender expectations in the most public and inescapable way.[101] Ultimately, while Deutsch-Nadir asserts that this form of resistance empowered its participants and mobilised thousands of women in its peak years, it failed to garner societal support and was publicly perceived as a betrayal, going so far as to result in violence against vigils.[102] On the other hand, women’s organisations which have overtly associated their activism to motherhood have garnered more support. The groups ‘Four Mothers’ and ‘Women And Mothers for Peace’, for example, are widely credited for the Israeli withdrawal from South Lebanon in 2000,[103] and Machsom Watch members have reported that, building on their motherly image, they were able to calm Israeli soldiers at checkpoints.[104] Therefore, it is by stressing their ‘feminity’ characteristics rather than feminism and manipulating their ‘motherly image,’ that Israeli female activists have gained the most support for their peace project.


  • Limits of civil society’s influence on peace processes

Despite this commitment to raise awareness among Israelis about the dire treatment of Palestinians under the occupation and its illegality, women’s peacebuilding efforts and grassroots activism’s outputs have been limited domestically by the constraints of civil society activism. Firstly, they have been confronted to ‘peace fatigue,’ the societal disenfranchisement from the peace process and peace activism.[105] This was most obvious in the periods shortly following peaks of violence, such as the assassination of Prime Minister Rabin and the 2000 Al-Aqsa Intifada, which can be explained by the fact that people felt prior grassroots efforts had failed and were subsequently no longer worth pursuing.[106] In fact, this can also be linked to Israelis’ sentiment following crises that peace initiatives were less likely to succeed, therein explaining their weakened interest in negotiations. This transpires, for example, in the Israeli Democracy Institute’s monthly opinion polls and Peace index, measuring Israelis’ support for a peace process and belief that peace could be achieved in the foreseeable years; in the month following the eruption of Al-Aqsa, Israeli belief that peace in a foreseeable future was likely decreased marginally, while confidence that the Oslo Agreement would bring peace significantly dropped.[107]

While this did not result in reduced women’s activism in the case of Al-Aqsa – to the contrary, women filled the vacuum left by the rest of Israel’s pacifist movements by expanding upon joint initiatives[108] – it resulted in a steady decline in foreign funding for women’s NGOs from the 0-25 million dollars allocated to people-to-people activities in the early post-Oslo years, thus limiting their activities.[109] In some cases, it also led to further Israeli antagonism toward female peace activists, who in less conflictual times were targeted and threatened for their activism, from the lowest levels with Machsom Watch members claiming they felt endangered daily for resisting militarism,[110] to the former Israeli and Palestinian heads of the Jerusalem Link.[111] In addition, it must be noted that women activists, while they represent an active segment of pacifist Israeli civil society, are often marginalised as being part of the radical left.[112] While this allows them to challenge more easily mainstream narratives on the Conflict, it also reduces their appeal to the wider Israeli population, icluding women.[113] Furthermore, while engaging in dialogue is a key component of setting the grounds for civil society to push for and implement a just peace agreement, its breadth in Israeli society must not be overstated: by 2009, only 5 percent of the Israeli population had participated in encounter programs.[114] Consequently, women’s peacebuilding activism was severely restrained and its initiatives considered as lacking legitimacy.[115] Combined with the growing invisibility of the occupation for Israelis, the high number of NGOs addressing the issue yet failing to settle it, it is increasingly apparent that the majority of Israelis now ‘are just not interested in peace anymore.’[116]

Secondly, women’s peace groups have failed to influence the Israeli government to move for a just peace, despite the need for Track Two diplomacy to cooperate with Track One diplomacy to be most effective[117] and that being one of the core aims of civil-society based Track Two activities.[118]  However, this is largely due to the conduct of successive Israeli governments, which have repeatedly, directly and indirectly, undercut peace-promoting NGOs’ activities in the country. To begin with, by repeatedly expanding their military control over the Occupied Territories, building ‘facts on the ground’ and deepening the effects of the occupation on the Palestinian population, Israeli governments have furthered the power asymmetry between Israelis and Palestinians, therein weakening the likeliness of successful joint endeavours between their civil societies.[119] Similarly, the construction of the Separation Wall under Ariel Sharon and the 2009 Operation Cast Lead in Gaza resulted in a heightened physical barrier between both civil societies, impeding their mobility and chances at interaction, as illustrated by the restriction upon Palestinians’ freedom to travel and the tightened security at military checkpoints.[120] Finally, it transpires that the Israeli government has hindered peace NGOs, both through de-legitimisation campaigns such as its support for the portrayal of anti-militarism New Profile as an extremist organisation in widespread media,[121] or by cutting NGOs’ funding.[122] This led Aggestam and Strömbom to speak of a ‘’calculated onslaught’ on human rights organisations’ in 2012,[123] although very often indirect, through increased government and right wing Knesset members-backed organisations such as the Israel academia monitor’s monitoring and attempting to gain control over peace NGOs.[124] Under such conditions, and in the absence of Track One support, civil society organisations, including women’s peace groups, have seen their efforts repeatedly curtailed and their input in the peace process undermined, despite proposing a promising framework for conflict resolution.

3. Recognising asymmetries of power between and among women’s peace movements: a first step toward improved peacebuilding and conflict resolution

Beyond the constraints posed by civil society-based activism and governmental opposition, Israeli women’s peace movements have been restrained in their efforts to advance a peace process by their failure to recognise the colossal asymmetry of power between themselves and Palestinian women.[125] Indeed, by promoting a discourse of ‘global sisterhood’ and liberal feminist emancipation,[126] Israeli women activists have failed to recognise the heterogeneity of their condition with that of Palestinian women and to address core issues of the Conflict, in turn perpetuating their unequal status and widening the divide between both sides. Equally, the mainstream Israeli feminist movement has failed to recognise asymmetries of power within its ranks, ignoring the voices of the most oppressed. Rather than engaging in the difficult and essential task of reconciling the ‘fragmented and heterogeneous nature of the narrative identities existing in that land’[127] and providing a more egalitarian environment for them to cooperate and coexist, the mainstream Israeli women’s movement’s attempt at building one, coherent feminist peace project has resulted in the exclusion of the majority of the members it sought to include.[128] In a sense, the mainstream Israeli women’s peace movement has therefore reproduced the wider asymmetries between Israelis and Palestinians in its interactions with its Palestinian counterparts and domestically. However, a thorough introspection and recognition of its plurality, as is starting to emerge with the growing call for ‘third wave’ feminism within women’s associations and the peace movement, could create a new framework for building a more sustainable and equitable relationship between Israelis and Palestinians, necessary for peacebuilding and peacemaking.

In this section, I embrace the feminist concept of intersectionality, a lens through which ‘narrative identities need to be examined by exploring how they are interrelated and mutually constructed, first of all starting with questioning socio-economic inequalities that have impacts on women’s activism and…sets of priorities.’[129] I start by demonstrating the diverging aims of Palestinian and Israeli women’s peace groups, highlighting that Israeli women have failed to fully recognise Palestinians’ claims and how they impact them, therein undermining joint projects and reconciliation between the two civil societies as well as reproducing the unequal Israeli-Palestinian relationship at a smaller scale. Then, in a second part, I analyse the ethnonational-based divisions within the Israeli feminist movement, and show that, through the predominance of Ashkenazi women at the top of its ranks, it has similarly failed to address the issues which most matter to the oppressed minorities. However, I conclude by stressing that by engaging in further dialogue and acceptance of its diverse nature, as it is on the path of doing with ‘third wave’ feminism, the movement would be better equipped to propose a novel frame through which to engage in the peace process, based on more equal relations.

  • Asymmetries of power and diverging ideologies between Israeli and Palestinian women’s peace groups: moving from liberal, strategic gender interest-based feminism to a ‘practically gendered Track III developmental conflict resolution approach’[130]

The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict having for the large part been defined by violent opposition of narratives, Israeli women’s peace movements have engaged for the past two decades-and-a-half in creating a space for dialogue and exchange under the banner of ‘global sisterhood’ and feminism.[131] However, in their approach, they have repeatedly failed to address the very unequal relationship between themselves and their Palestinian counterparts, seeking joint feminist emancipation through shared endeavours and dialogue as if they stood on the same footing, and failing to recognise the very different nature of their oppressions; to quote Daniele, ‘Palestinian and Israeli women activists have been involved in opposing contexts that are, on the one hand, a stateless nation along with a leading national liberation movement (Palestinian women), while on the other hand, and established nation-state founded on an institutionalised nationalism (Israeli women).’[132] Consequently, while most Israeli women’s peace groups have recognised and denounced the illegality of the occupation, they have been wary of associating too closely with Palestinians’ struggle for national liberation or directly conflating national identities, gender and peace activism.[133] This translates in their avoidance of key issues such as the right of return and the future of Jerusalem, as illustrated by their absence in the original Jerusalem Link statement,[134] as well as discussions on the history of the occupation and the origins of the conflict[135] and their own privilege as Israeli women.[136] Consequently, it has become extremely difficult for Palestinian women to engage in joint endeavours with Israeli peace activists, as those are widely denounced by Palestinian society as a ‘normalisation’ of the occupation, an acceptance of the status quo,[137] just as Machsom Watch has been criticised for trying to improve the treatment of Palestinians at checkpoints.[138] It is also for this reason that the Jerusalem Centre for Women withdrew from the Jerusalem Link in 2009: Bat Shalom, the Israeli component of the women’s joint initiative, failed to strongly condemn Israeli actions during the Gaza War.[139] Consequently, both sides retrieved to local work; Rula Salameh, the head of the Jerusalem Centre for Women, has affirmed that ‘after Gaza all of us agreed to leave joint projects…95 percent of the work has been directed towards partnerships with Palestinian locals, five percent towards Bat Shalom, and none to other Israeli Jewish organisations.’[140] In essence, the criticism formulated by Nabila Espanioly, a Palestinian spearhead of the women’s movement, on the reasons for the Link’s failure reflected the weakness of the Israeli women’s peace movement as a whole: ‘Although in its structures of understanding there were two identities, two units, the wanted to use a way of doing through only one voice in which there was no more an occupied and an occupier… it is not enough saying to end the occupation. It is more important to speak about recognition, let’s recognise who is the occupier and who is occupied.’[141]

The asymmetry of relations between Israeli and Palestinian women activists further transpired in the non-governmental sector, weakening one of the essential tools for Palestinian women to advance their national liberation agenda and improve their conditions – both of which they perceived as interdependent,[142] and demonstrating how Israeli women’s peace initiatives reinforced the unequal partnership fuelling the Conflict. Indeed, while the willingness of international donors to fund women’s initiative in Palestine has been quite substantial over the years, despite a clear slowdown in the 2000s,[143] the disproportionate funding of Israeli women’s groups and initiatives as opposed to Palestinians’ has jeopardised joint endeavours.[144] As highlighted by Sharoni, this is partly explained by the fact that donors were most often Western states, European in the case of the Jerusalem Link, which most likely related to Israelis’ feminist agenda,[145] therein bolstering Pouligny’s argument that donors are most likely to fund projects and groups which most resemble their own models.[146] Not only did this orientation translate a lack of understanding by the international community of the fundamental disparity of Israeli and Palestinian women’s conditions,[147] it also allowed Israelis to have a greater say in joint agendas and develop a paternal approach to Palestinian women.[148] Nevertheless, international funding also left Palestinian women dependent on outside aid and severely undermined the integrity of the women’s peace movement’s research and activism, particularly immediately post-Oslo;[149] donors pushed for the pursuit of depoliticised liberal peace, antithetical to Palestinian women’s ambitions, and rapidly ‘people from both sides appeared to be more concerned about fulfilling their donors’ agenda.’[150] Even through the non-governmental sector, cooperating with Israeli women activists has therefore reinforced existing power asymmetries between both sides, which the Israeli party has not seemed willing to address and which, reinforced by the diverging ideological nature of the activities proposed by both sides, has underlined Israeli women’s failure to recognise and act upon their privilege.

Embodying Israeli and Palestinian women’s differing priorities and ideologies, the former’s initiatives have illustrated their unwillingness to address Palestinians’ most basic needs, and therein to recognise the responsibility of the state of Israel – and, to some extent, theirs, in leading them there. Rather, ever since the Intifada, Israeli women have pushed for strategic gender interests-based programs within Palestinian society, advancing women’s emancipation from patriarchy as a core goal of their activism.[151] However, these more often than not failed to resonate within Palestinian women’s associations, as reflected in the experience of the Jerusalem Centre for Women: its ‘Jerusalem track,’ strongly influenced by its former alliance with Bat Shalom, aimed to empower women through workshops on gender, human rights and democracy.[152] These failed to gain credibility and popularity among the Palestinian women’s group,[153] which can be associated to their secondary priority ranking compared to the enduring consequences of the occupation on their lives.[154] This can be seen as case in point illustrating the motives for Palestinian women’s perception of the Israeli women’s peace movement’s blind idealism and failure to admit the ongoing weight of the occupation on Palestinian women, instead focusing on a liberal feminist project to be achieved in a distant future.[155] Instead of this paternalist and counterproductive stance,[156] several authors and activists are therefore increasingly pushing for an agenda in line with a ‘practically gendered Track III developmental conflict resolution approach,’ as advanced by Richter-Devroe.[157] Track III diplomacy, defined by Goodhand as ‘humanitarian and development assistance which may or may not have explicit peacebuilding objectives but will have an effect on the context in which peace negotiations are occurring,’[158] therefore takes a gender tint, addressing women’s practical gender interests such as access to food, childcare and healthcare as first steps towards women’s empowerment.[159] Such a turn would therefore help rebuild Israeli-Palestinian women’s relationship and facilitate future reconciliation between their civil societies, an essential component of peacebuilding. In addition, it would underscore Israeli women’s recognition of their privilege as Israelis and of the power asymmetry between both sides, a political move in itself and requirement for future joint endeavours.[160]

Such a shift in Israeli women’s peace activism is slowly occurring, as evidenced in the goals of the Israeli women’s peace coalition, the Coalition of Women for Peace.[161] Indeed, while it still assumes an overtly strategically feminist agenda, it also addresses and supports previously taboo issues such as the right of return and Jerusalem,[162] and, through its ‘Who Profits from the Occupation’ research project and call to support Palestinians’ 2005 Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement[163] recognises the asymmetrical impact of the occupation on Palestinian and the perpetuation of socio-economic inequalities between both sides.[164] In addition, it firmly affirms that ‘historical justice includes taking responsibility for past injustices, and contemporary justice includes a promise of equality between the two peoples, as well as economic and social justice’ and goes so far as formally ‘reject[ing] the existing power relations between Israelis and Palestinians, which are exploited by the Israeli government to impose long term inequality and exploitation on the Palestinian people.’[165] Going from mere ‘dialogue,’ based on similarities loosely affiliated to ‘global sisterhood’, to a politics of ‘solidarity’ critically recognising the differences between both sides, the Coalition could serve as a model and starting point for the rest of civil society to emulate.[166]

  • Asymmetries of power and diverging ideologies within the Israeli women’s peace movement and Israeli feminism: ‘third wave’ feminism and the way forward for more inclusive peacebuilding

Another reason the Israeli women’s peace movement has largely failed to build strong, sustainable relationships with its Palestinian counterpart and to mobilise Israeli civil society around its project has been, again, its failure to recognise power asymmetries and exclusionary liberal feminist discourse, but within its ranks. Analysing these internal divisions and relationships between women, essentially of different ethno-national identities, therefore holds its ground in attempting to identify a possible way forward for Israeli women’s peace groups to further influence and shape the peace project: the issues they face seem to largely echo, at a smaller scale, those facing Israeli-Palestinian women’s unequal relationship.[167]

Indeed, looking at the composition of the Israeli women’s peace movement and, more broadly, the Israeli feminist movement, an ethnonational-based hierarchy transpires, reminding that which is very much present in the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict.[168] At the head of this hierarchy stand the upper middle class, college-educated Jewish Ashkenazi women,[169] originating from Europe, America and Russia, and ‘who symbolise the ruling economic, political and social elite,’ despite the fact that Ashkenazim represent only 32 percent of Israel’s population, and whose interests have been systematically advanced and prioritised by the Israeli establishment throughout its history. Immediately below them are the Mizrahi Jews, originating from North Africa, the Middle-East and Asia and constituting 48 percent of the population, followed by Palestinian citizens of Israel.[170] This hierarchy among citizens, and particularly women, is clearly reflected in their socio-economic status, and to a wide extent reflects the inequalities between Israelis and Palestinians, with a strong dependence of Mizrahi women on the Ashkenazi through the provision of welfare and public services[171] and an increasing struggle for the Mizrahi against poverty and unemployment, to the extent that Dahan-Kalev has described it as one for ‘survival.’[172] Consequently, and similarly to Palestinian women’s critique of the Israeli women’s peace movement, Mizrahi women have harshly criticised mainstream Israeli women’s groups liberal feminist agenda for not recognising or addressing their experience as an oppressed minority.[173] This eventually led to the secession of mainstream Israeli feminist groups, spearheads of the peace movement, from Mizrahi activists in 1994, and the establishment of ‘Mizrahi feminism,’ a feminist current focused on practical gender interests and the improvement of minority women’s conditions.[174] This represented a true revolution in the Israeli feminist movement, as Mizrahi organisations such as Achoti dedicated themselves to tackling socio-economic issues, challenging the Ashkenazi feminist narrative and branching out to the plurality of minority ethno-national communities through a more inclusive and practical feminist discourse.[175] With regards to the feminist peace agenda, Mizrahi women also challenged the dominant narrative of ‘global sisterhood’ by ‘object[ing] to the one-dimensional agenda of the women’s peace movement and its disregard of the connection between war, peace, class and ethnicity [and] social justice.’[176] Embracing Mizrahi feminists’ voice, rather than excluding them from mainstream attempts at peacebuilding, could therefore prove useful in bridging the gap between both parties’ understanding of feminism and its priorities.

Similarly to Mizrahi women, Palestinian women citizens of Israel have for the most part been excluded from the mainstream feminist movement and women’s peace movement, yet could be an essential facilitator in rekindling Israeli-Palestinian women’s relationship. Indeed, while the latter are widely considered as ‘third class citizens’ and have been socially and politically marginalised from Israeli society and feminism, they have developed their own feminist consciousness as an alternative to the Ashkenazi hegemonic voice.[177] In doing so, they have essentially reproduced Palestinian women’s feminist approach, emphasising the importance of a national consciousness intertwined with feminism, and using it as a route to ‘preserv[e] and transmi[t] their historical, political and cultural identity’,[178] yet using their double status as Palestinians and Israelis to facilitate and mediate the opening of relationships between the two parties.[179] Both despite and because of this double status, they have often been marginalised and seen with suspicion by both civil societies, and have ‘had to challenge their own internal male-dominated system and…to prevail against the Jewish Ashkenazi hegemony active within Israel.’[180] Nonetheless, they have been an essential component in the rise of ‘third wave feminism’ in Israel, in conjunction with Mizrahi women: while it still represents a minority of women activists, this feminist current is characterised by its call for ‘aware[ness] of the necessity to respect differences through egalitarian standpoints, rather than hiding them,’ and therefore for a deconstruction of hierarchies and hegemonic voices within feminism.[181] Again, the Coalition of Women for Peace hints that the Israeli women’s peace movement is on its way to adopting this framework, arguing one of its main aims is the achievement of a ‘just society’ in Israel and being composed of nine heteroclite Israeli feminist organisations.[182] It qualifies itself as a ‘non-hierarchical organization, run by [an] assembly…meet[ing] once a month…open [to] every woman…discuss[ing] the activities and projects and mak[ing] decisions by consensus’ and calls for ‘economic and social justice within the two societies.’[183] Such an inclusive initiative, the result of cooperation between different strings of the feminist movement and successfully addressing socio-economic inequalities could, here again, be used as a model to reconcile Israeli and Palestinian civil societies as a first step towards conflict resolution.


In an effort to investigate the tools and extent through which it has influenced the Israeli-Palestinian peace project since 1993, this dissertation has demonstrated that Israeli women’s peace activism has introduced a new frame, both analytical and of action, to its pursuit. Consequently, while its overall influence on the Israeli-Palestinian peace process has had only a limited impact, partly due to internal weaknesses and partly due to external limitations, Israeli women’s peace activism carries great promise. By carrying a new frame of action and of analysis of its interaction with its Palestinian counterpart, and if supported and emulated by Track One actors, it could even lead to a novel approach to the resolution of the conflict. This argument has been carried through a triple-stranded approach.

Firstly, it has addressed women’s exclusion and marginalisation from conventional high-level diplomacy, and deducted that a mainstream reading of negotiations since Oslo suggests their influence in this field has been minor. However, through this venture, it has engaged with feminist literature and gendered narratives, looking at both the causes and consequences of the latter’s construction, to conclude that Israeli perceptions of women’s negotiating skills and of an aggressively masculine Palestinian culture have triggered women’s exclusion and consequently weakened negotiations’ likelihood of success. It has also challenged the normative reading of negotiation practices and settings to highlight women’s back-door input in high-level talks, enabling their proceeding and taking a direct part in mid-level negotiations, despite their erasure from the Israeli narrative. Already, this section suggested that a novel, feminist reading of negotiations provided a frame in which women’s role was more evident, and hinted to future better use of their skills in negotiations.

Then, drawing from conflict resolution literature, this dissertation has stressed the contribution of Israeli women peace activists to civil society peacebuilding efforts through dialogue, and demonstrated the key role of such initiatives in preparing the ground for future agreements. Such initiatives were directly correlated to women’s exclusion from Track One diplomacy initiatives, and critically assessed to uncover that while they have been meaningful in attempting to bridge the divide between both civil societies, they have also been severely restricted by the very constraints of civil society, public opinion on feminism and lack of governmental support. Therefore, while women’s grassroots activism has been introduced as an essential and alternative frame of action in peacebuilding, the breadth of its influence has also been nuanced to show its limited overall impact.

Finally, in the third part, this dissertation has engaged in a critical analysis of what has been identified as one of the key hindrances to women’s influence on the peace project and linking between both sides’ civil societies, namely their failure to admit to and attempt to palliate the power asymmetry between themselves and their Palestinian counterparts and within their ranks. Here, a way forward and new frame was suggested through the adoption of an intersectional reading of the movement, calling for women peace activists to reflect on their inner heterogeneity to recognise the diversity of their movement, building on the growing ‘third wave’ feminism, to then expand that approach to the Conflict. Such a recognition of their power asymmetries would be an important step for Israeli women to reconcile both sides’ civil societies and bolster the overall peace movement, a step which it is currently in the making of.


This dissertation was written for the BA International Relations course at King’s College London, War Studies department. Reviewed by the War Studies department and the Middle East Institute.




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[1] Sharoni (2012), p.114-116

[2] Aharoni (2011)

[3] Hottinger (2005), p.56

[4] ibid

[5] Enloe (1989)

[6] Reimann (2004), p.4

[7] Deutsch-Nadir (2005), p.16-18; Babbit &d’Estree (1998) p.188-191

[8] Maoz (2009),p.521

[9] Babbit &d’Estree (1998)

[10] Reardon (1993), pp.24-25

[11] Richter-Devroe (2008), p.35

[12] Sharoni (1997)

[13] Kandiyoti (1988)

[14] Richter-Devroe (2008), p.35

[15] Golan & Kamal (2005)

[16] Maoz 2004; Kray et al. (2002)

[17] Tessler & Warriner (1997)

[18] Daniele (2014)

[19] The Institute for Inclusive Security (April 7, 2016)

[20] Aharoni (2014), p.379

[21] Papagianni (2012) p.167-185

[22] Hottinger (2005), p.56

[23] Finkel (2012), p.2

[24] Maoz (2009), p.532

[25] Sharoni (2012), p.115

[26] Finkel (2012), p.21

[27] ibid, p.7

[28] Fite et al.(1990); Togeby (1994)

[29] Maoz (2009), p.521

[30] Deutsch-Nadir(2005), p.16-18; Babbit &d’Estree (1998), p.188-19.

[31] Maoz(2009), p.521-522

[32] Tessler &Warriner (1997), p.253

[33] ibid

[34] Reardon (1993), p.24-25

[35] Deutsch-Nadir(2005), p.17; Golan (2004)

[36] Hunt & Posa (2001), p.46

[37] Maoz(2009), p.520; Aharoni (2014), p.379

[38] Maoz (2009)

[39] ibid, p.532

[40] ibid

[41] Said (1978)

[42] Aharoni (2014), p.376

[43] ibid, p.375

[44] Cohen (1990)

[45] Aharoni (2014), p.375-376

[46] ibid, p.377

[47] Aharoni (2014)

[48] Yegenoglu (1998)

[49] Kleiman (2005)

[50] Aharoni (2014), p.386

[51] ibid

[52] Aharoni (2011), p.404-405

[53] Aharoni (2014), p.378

[54] Finkel (2012), p.22

[55] Aharoni (2011), p.392

[56] Aharoni (2014), p.380

[57] Aharoni (2011), p.395

[58] ibid p.402

[59] Solomon (April 7, 2016)

[60] Aharoni (2011), p.396-397

[61] ibid

[62] Chinkin (2003), p.871

[63] Aharoni (2011), p.407

[64] ibid, p.394-395; ibid, p.409-412

[65] ibid, p.412

[66] ibid,p.398-399

[67] Powers(2003), p.25

[68] ibid

[69] Golan &Kamal (2005)

[70] Helman (2009)

[71] Golan & Kamal (2005)

[72] Golan & Kamal (2005)

[73] Hottinger (2005), p.56

[74] Maoz (2004), p.564

[75] Pouligny (2005), p.497

[76] Spurk (2010)

[77] Daniele (2014), p.6

[78] Hottinger (2005), p.57

[79] Powers (2003), p.25

[80] Maoz (2004), p.566-567

[81] Pouligny (2005), p.498; Richter-Devroe (2008), p.31

[82] Hottinger (2005), p.58 ; Maoz (2004), p.572

[83] Maoz (2004), p.567

[84] Golan & Kamal (2005)

[85] Powers (2003), p.29

[86] New Profile (April 7, 2016)

[87] Women In Black (April 7, 2016); see also (April 7, 2016)

[88] Halperin (2007), p.334

[89] Bat Shalom (April 7, 2016)

[90] Bat Shalom (April 7, 2016)

[91] ibid

[92] Golan &Kamal (2005)

[93] ibid

[94] Deutsch-Nadir (2005), pp.23-24

[95] Sharoni (2012); Golan &Kamal (2005)

[96] Golan & Kamal (2005)

[97] Richter-Devroe (2008), p.34

[98] Golan & Kamal (2005); Reardon (1993), p.146

[99] Deutsch-Nadir (2005)

[100] ibid

[101] Halperin (2007), p.336; Sharoni (2012), p.118

[102] Deutsch-Nadir (2005), pp.50-51, p.52, p.66

[103] Helman (2009); Sharoni (2012), p.117

[104] Halperin (2007), p.339; Sharoni (2012), p.118

[105] Aggestam & Strömbom (2013), p.120

[106] Daniele (2014), p.111; Sharoni (2012), p.123

[107] Ya’ar &Hermann (April 7, 2016)

[108] Helman(2009)

[109] Richter-Devroe (2008), p.36

[110] Halperin (2007), p.334

[111] Powers (2003), p.29

[112] Halperin (2007), p.335

[113] Golan & Kamal (2005); Daniele (2014), p.111

[114] Brand-Jacobsen (2009), p.44

[115] Richter-Devroe (2008), p.36

[116] Aggestam &Strömbom (2013), p.120

[117] Daniele (2014), p.88; Papagianni (2012), p.117

[118] Richter-Devroe (2008),p.31

[119] Daniele (2014), pp.93-94

[120] Ibid, p.94; Aggestam &Strömbom (2013), p.114, p.117

[121] Sharoni (2012), p.117

[122] Aggestam &Strömbom (2013), p.119

[123] ibid

[124] Menuchin (2010) (April 7, 2016)

[125] Daniele (2014), p.137

[126] Golan &Kamal (2005)

[127] Daniele (2014), p.1

[128] Sharoni (2012), p.120

[129] Daniele (2014), p.102

[130] Richter-Devroe (2008), p.43

[131] ibid, p.35

[132] Daniele (2014),p.9

[133] Halperin (2007), p.336

[134] Daniele (2014), p.108

[135] Ibid, 110

[136] Sharoni (2012), 122

[137] Richter-Devroe (2008), pp.36-37; Daniele (2014), p.95

[138] Aggestam &Strömbom (2013), p.116

[139]ibid, p.118

[140] Daniele (2014),p.111

[141] Ibid, p.113

[142] Halperin (2007),p.336

[143] Aggestam &Strömbom (2013), p.109

[144] Daniele (2014),p.94.

[145] Sharoni (2012),p.121

[146] Poligny (2005),p.492

[147] Sharoni (2012),p.120

[148] Daniele (2014), p.94; Aggestam &Strömbom (2013), p.122

[149] Aggestam &Strömbom (2013),p.109, p.112 ; Daniele (2014), p.94

[150] Aggestam &Strömbom (2013),p.117

[151] Richter-Devroe (2008), p.43

[152] Powers (2003), p.28

[153] ibid

[154] Daniele (2014), p.9

[155] Richter-Devroe (2008), pp.42-44.

[156] Aggestam &Strömbom (2013),p.117.

[157] Richter-Devroe (2008),p.43

[158] Richter-Devroe (2008), p.42

[159] Ibid, pp.42-43.

[160] Ibid,p.44.

[161] Sharoni (2012), p.126.

[162] Coalition of Women (April 7, 2016)

[163] Coalition of Women (April 7, 2016)

[164] Coalition of Women (April 7, 2016)

[165] Coalition of Women (April 7, 2016)

[166] Sharoni (2012),p.126

[167] Daniele (2014),pp.58-83

[168] ibid

[169] Sharoni (2012), p.120

[170] Daniele (2014), p.66

[171] Ibid, 68.

[172] ibid 67.

[173] Dahan-Kalev (2009)

[174] ibid

[175] Daniele (2014), p.69

[176] Helman (2009)

[177] Daniele (2014), p.70-74

[178] ibid p.70

[179] ibid p.72

[180] ibid

[181] ibid 79

[182] Coalition of Women (April 7, 2016)

[183] ibid

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