Middle East conflict debated at Notre Dame

Document Type

Media Release

Publication Date

Fall 29-4-2010

Publisher Name

The University of Notre Dame Australia, Fremantle Campus

Publication Place



A ‘robust’ exchange took place during a public debate which challenged whether a Two State Solution to the Middle East Conflict is Still Viable?

Over 100 people attended the debate held at The University of Notre Dame Australia’s Fremantle Campus this week.
Public Advocate for Australians for Palestine, Mr Michael Shaik took on writer and policy analyst at the Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council, Mr Bren Carlill.

Law Associate Professor Ben Clarke, the convenor of the debate which was sponsored by the Schools of Law and Arts & Sciences, said that the Middle East conflict is a legal, historical and political minefield and one of the most protracted in modern history.

“Like the protagonists in the real conflict, the debaters were reluctant to give ground. They stuck to their narrative - the Israeli and Palestinian perceptions of the conflict.

“These narratives run deep and expose many problems which do not appear to be easily overcome. (If they were, the conflict would have been resolved decades ago.) The Palestinian narrative glosses over the impact of ongoing violence by militants while the Israeli narrative does the same with respect to ongoing settlement construction in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.”

The debaters were in agreement on one point: peace in the form of a two state solution isn’t likely in the near future.
Their differences highlight ongoing doubts about the very concept of a negotiated two-state solution. A lively Question and Answer session moderated by Associate Professor Clarke followed the debate.

“If the audience was hoping for ‘an Obama factor’ – something that would bridge the gap between Israelis and Palestinians - they didn’t find one on the night, said Associate Professor Clarke.

“Vast differences between the sides over key issues (including the status of Jerusalem and water rights) suggest that even gradual steps towards a viable solution will remain challenging. However, the audience were updated on current facts on the ground in the occupied territories, giving them an insight into the impact of the ongoing conflict upon Palestinians and Israelis alike.”

The debate is the first in a series of three being held at Notre Dame. For more information please go to the University’s website and click on events for the Fremantle Campus - www.nd.edu.au

Media contact:

Michelle Ebbs
08 9433 0610, 0408 959 138