Two states or one, or in between?

ABSTRACT: Despite the very different international and regional context, Northern Ireland provides a useful comparison and model for discussion of conflict resolution in Israel/Palestine. This article explores the interaction of political structures and collective identification, showing that some state configurations incentivise zero sum aims and ideas and constitute conflicts as intractable, while others encourage the change of aims and strategies which permits political compromise. It explores the timing, conditions and directions of such change in Northern Ireland, arguing that it was crucially conditioned by changing power relations - an equalisation process - and that it took very different forms for different groups and subgroups depending on their access to social opportunities and resources. Given this ongoing change, the relative success of the 1998 settlement is a function not just of its guarantees and structures, but also of its iterative character, holding open different possible futures for changing populations. Israel/Palestine is in a very different situation. But it too is dynamic. By showing how one- and two-state models of conflict resolution are likely to affect collective identification and political aims, we can show how each needs to be qualified to hold open different possible futures for changing populations.