This article analyzes the intricate dynamics between international mediation and the quest for recognition in protracted conflict. The overarching aim is two-fold: to analyze how the struggle for recognition relates to protracted conflict, and why, when and in what ways recognition poses a barrier to efficient peace diplomacy and mediation. The article explores how preferences and interests are infused with identity politics and claims for recognition. It advances three inter-related dimensions of recognition: ontological security, dignity and identity. The conceptual discussion utilizes empirical illustrations from the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Three concluding remarks are made. First, international mediation may be accepted by negotiating parties to achieve international recognition rather than to reach an agreement. Second, due to the problem of recognition the notion of “ending conflict” can backfire in the mediation process. Third, mediators should focus on mutual, but thin recognition towards greater acknowledgement of the untenable and vulnerable positions the parties hold in conflict.
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