Religion, state, and the international system in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict

Hillel Frisch, Shmuel Sandler

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Why do conflicts between states and national movements continue to be "nationalist," concerned almost exclusively with selfdetermination and control over territory, rather than crusades on behalf of faith? Our basic claim is that the nature of the present international system bolsters the dominant position of nationalists in a given conflict with an opposing political entity, as well as within their own constituency. For this reason, the Palestinian leadership has never entered a power-sharing arrangement with the Islamists, and in Israel, the consociational arrangement with the national religious camp floundered when this internal arrangement threatened Israel's relationship with its key ally, the USA, and jeopardized its standing in the international community. Religion expresses, however, important primordial values, particularly in Palestinian society, and is often a crucial dimension of collective identity. It is only natural, then, that nationalists use religious groups and their symbols as a means in the struggle to achieve their national or state-centered goals.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)77-96+130
JournalInternational Political Science Review
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2004


  • International system
  • Islam
  • Israeli-Palestinian conflict
  • Judaism


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