The Justice-Reconciliation Nexus in Israel/Palestine: Mapping a Transitional Framework amid Settler Colonialism

  • Rimona Afana

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


As this research is being concluded in September 2017, four milestones in the subjugation of Palestinians are commemorated: 2017 marks one century since the Balfour Declaration, seven decades since the Partition Plan, five decades since the Six Day War, and one decade since the siege on Gaza. The colonization, occupation, and besiegement of Palestinians deepen with impunity, while diplomacy and significant portions of academia and civil society continue to feed an illusory recipe for peace. It was to me a timely endeavour to demystify the abstraction of peace by foregrounding the intersection between justice and reconciliation. I position the justice-reconciliation nexus as the core marker of transitional justice and of conflict transformation in Palestine/Israel, indicative of the repair needed to transcend the impasse. Though justice and reconciliation emerge in the literature as mostly post-settlement concerns and are normatively assumed as synergistic, I evidence both justice and reconciliation are prominent pre-settlement in my site of focus and they exhibit significant incongruences. This exploratory investigation seeks to map the multifaceted, nonlinear meanings surrounding justice and reconciliation presently. To capture this spectrum of idea(l)s and actions, three areas are examined around the justice-reconciliation nexus: its conceptualization, its contextualization, and its operationalization. Conceptualization-wise, I demonstrate the justice-reconciliation nexus is bound to the magnitude of structural violence in Israel/Palestine, one transitional justice has limited capacity to engage. Contextualization-wise, I situate this nexus within a settler colonial structure and track the continuities between this foundational crime and its additional layers of harm: ethnic cleansing, the military occupation, apartheid, protracted non-resolution, third party interventionism, and a culture of pervasive moral apathy. Operationalization-wise, I position civil society as an epistemic community engaged in transitional/transformative efforts amid a non-transitional site. Mapping activism around the justice-reconciliation nexus, I document one stream fixated on justice, working on the citizen vs. state, vertical axis, and another one advancing reconciliation along the people-to-people, horizontal axis. This concept-contextpraxis continuum surfaces the fractures between justice and reconciliation, offering a telescopic view of the difficulty to bridge transitional justice theory to settler colonial studies.
Date of AwardJun 2018
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorFionnuala Ni Aolain (Supervisor), Eilish Rooney (Supervisor) & Brandon Hamber (Supervisor)


  • Israel
  • Palestine
  • Transitional Justice
  • Conflict Transformation
  • Settler Colonialism
  • justice
  • Reconciliation

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