17 August 2007

16 August 2007 - Pilgrimage to MECA

In three weeks, I’ll be presenting a paper co-written by Sapir Handelman and myself at the 2007 Middle East and Central Asia (MECA) Politics, Economics and Society Conference at the University of Utah. The program looks amazing and I will be sure to blog from the conference about all the debates and discussions there. Below is the abstract for our paper, which has changed only slightly since then.

Interactive models of negotiation: the Palestinian-Israeli case


Sapir Handelman and Joel Pollak (Harvard University)

What is the appropriate model for negotiation in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict? The conflict has had a negative impact upon almost every dimension of life within the two societies. A peace agreement is in the interest of both, but has proved elusive.

There are many factors that make the conflict intractable. These include disagreements between the parties as well as domestic political barriers to compromise. Yet negotiation is necessary because although Israeli and Palestinian societies have separate aspirations, they are closely entwined.

Accordingly, our central claim is that negotiation should be regarded as a discovery process in which both sides learn how to create the conditions for peace. Negotiations should not focus narrowly on a final settlement but should build a multi-faceted process that serves as the foundation for future improved relations.

We evaluate four relevant models of negotiation. The first, the external model, involves a settlement imposed from outside. The second, the elite model, suggests talks between top leaders from each society, without direct public involvement, as in the Oslo peace process of the 1990s.

The third model, the institutional model, proposes the creation of public multi-party forums to carry out negotiations. Such institutions were used successfully in South Africa and Northern Ireland. The fourth model, the indirect model, prompts each society to address internal questions, such as ethnic and religious pluralism, as a way to prepare each for engagement with the external “other.”

We conclude that successful negotiations require some or all of these models at once. We consider the question of leadership under the pressures of intractable conflict, and how leaders might achieve domestic reform as well as external reconciliation.

Our aim is to provide analysis and policy recommendations to help Israelis and Palestinians build a stable dialogue and achieving peaceful coexistence in two independent and cooperative states.

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