This paper aims to explore if and how changes in social representations of conflict are designed and constructed in the formal political discourse.
Taking a psycho‐sociological approach and by relying on discourse analysis, it explores the discursive patterns used by the political leadership in order to legitimize either war or peace actions. Through the analysis of speeches that were given by Israeli prime ministers in the Knesset and in the context of warfare or peace processes, the paper traces changes in the historical narratives that frame Israel's cluster of societal beliefs in regards to the conflict, and further explores how these are being re‐narrated in light of the process of transition to peace.
The paper argues that both warfare and peace processes, representing the extreme options available in conflict, require broad public recruitment and immense rhetorical efforts on behalf of the political leadership to reason and legitimatize actions through the formal political discourse. The findings highlight the ways through which the political leadership in Israel justifies its actions and attempts to enlist public support as a prism to trace how societal beliefs have been narrated for the purpose of justifying warfare, and how the same beliefs are re‐narrated to justify conflict resolution.
The paper strives to shed light on the role played by the interplay between political discourse and societal beliefs in the context of transition to peace, and thus advances understandings of the linkage between internal processes and external circumstances, as mitigated by political discourse, in the context of conflict and conflict resolution.
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