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Claremont McKenna College

Publication Date

Spring 2018

Program Name

Switzerland: International Studies and Multilateral Diplomacy


The Israel-Palestine issue has been present for decades, making it one of the world’s most prominent unresolved conflicts. Conflict for Israel-Palestine over the years has meant war, border insecurity, questions of legitimacy and sovereignty, and today, the role of the international community in the issue. One of the most paradoxical aspects of the Israel-Palestine issue is that Israel’s unequal treatment of Palestinians in the occupied territories could be against Israel’s own interests in the long run. Given this conflict, the purpose of this paper, while contextualizing the long and divided historical nature of this issue, was to focus on the role that mental maps play in Israeli, Palestinian, and other theoretical perceptions of borders and legitimacy. The paper also sought to understand the role that International Humanitarian Law and International Human Rights Law play in the conflict. Ultimately, the paper is intended to conclude how each of these ways in which borders are established— through mental maps and through legitimate corridors— come together to impact Israeli and Palestinian state legitimacy. The research methods include both qualitative and quantitative sources, with a series of formally conducted face-to-face interviews as well as analysis of peer-reviewed books and articles. My results indicate that finding where mental maps and international law come together and intersect is the most logical approach to understanding state legitimacy. My conclusion explores how we might extrapolate potential solutions from an analysis of Israeli and Palestinian state legitimacy.


International Humanitarian Law | Near and Middle Eastern Studies | Peace and Conflict Studies