Benziman, Yuval. “Ingredients of a Successful Track Two Negotiation.” Negotiation Journal 32.1 (2016): 49-62.
During three days in 2003, an Israeli–Palestinian group met in London to negotiate the draft of the “Geneva Initiative,” which offered a potential final status agreement between Israel and Palestine. In this article, I analyze the video recording of these unofficial negotiations and examine how the framing and conduct of the talks enabled significant progress toward reaching an agreement.
I describe six main framing techniques used by the mediators: calling the meetings an “exercise,” which reduced restraints on the participants and enhanced their flexibility, avoiding deep historical issues to focus solely on future-oriented pragmatic solutions, allowing the participants to discuss any topic they chose while deliberately avoiding crucial narrative issues, convincing the participants that this track two negotiation was crucial for the future of official Israeli–Palestinian relations, accentuating the parties’ understandings and agreements with each other, and building a sense of superordinate group identity among the participants, to encourage cooperation.
Podeh, Elie. “Israel and the Arab Peace Initiative, 2002–2014: A Plausible Missed Opportunity.” Middle East Journal 68.4 (2014): 584-603.
A well-known Israeli maxim — attributed to Israel’s legendary foreign minister Abba Eban — holds that “the Arabs [or Palestinians] never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity.” The analysis of Israel’s position toward the API demonstrates that the Arabs and the Palestinians have no monopoly on missed opportunities in the century-long conflict. In fact, my research on missed opportunities in the conflict shows that Israel missed quite a few opportunities, of which the API was probably the greatest.
The API is still on the negotiating table. Only recently, Turki Al-Faisal, former director of the Saudi intelligence agency and former ambassador to the UK and US, argued that the initiative “still provides a template for peace.” Indeed, the convergence of the following developments in the Middle East has once again created an opportunity to relaunch the API: First, John Kerry’s failure to broker a bilateral Israeli-Palestinian agreement due to both parties’ intransigent positions; second, the rise and success of jihadist elements in the Middle East, which creates fertile ground for potential cooperation between Israel and the moderate forces in the Arab world; third, the instability in the Arab world caused by the negative ramifications of the Arab Spring; fourth, the war in Gaza between Israel and Hamas, which highlighted that only a regional solution to the conflict would be able to tackle the entire Palestinian problem. In light of these sea changes in the Middle East, the API seems to be the main avenue for a diplomatic breakthrough that would bring some stability to an area besieged by turmoil. Based on its history, the chances that Israel will pick up the gauntlet are slim, but the country now has an opportunity to correct mistakes made over the last 12 years.