Negotiation Case Studies, Negotiation Strategies April 2, 2010

Negotiation lessons -- Israeli-Palestinian Situation

Negotiation lessons from the current Israeli-Palestinian situation

negotiations and confrontations have been going on between Israel and the Palestinians for decades. Many US administrations have been involved in trying to reach a settlement between the two parties. Recently, there have been renewed efforts by the United States to move the process along.

This past week, diplomatic chaos ensued when Israel announced, during a visit by Vice President Joe Biden, that it was continuing to build housing in East Jerusalem. This is relevant because the status of Jerusalem is one of the main sticking points in the negotiations. To Israel, Jerusalem is the capital of the state, and therefore non-negotiable. Palestinians view Jerusalem as part of the disputed territories of the West Bank.

• Deal with other issues first

The biggest negotiating lesson from the US-assisted Israeli-Palestinian discussions is how to deal with highly sticky and intractable issues such as Jerusalem. The first step in dealing with sticky issues is to move to find other areas of agreement. In fact, this is what negotiators have been working on for the past several years.

• Defuse tension

In a March 21 article BusinessWeek is reporting that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has requested that US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton help create “mutual confidence-building:

“to defuse the tensions over the east Jerusalem project.”

“Clinton said in a March 19 interview with Bloomberg TV. ‘It’s about the overall atmosphere that is necessary to demonstrate clearly and unequivocally the commitment to the negotiations and the outcome of a two-state resolution.’”

(Read the article here. )

• Provide assurances

The US government has often functioned as an intermediary between Israel and the Palestinians. During the Bush II administration, Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice often traveled in the region.

Jackson Diehl, writing an op-ed piece in the Washington Post said this about the issue of settlements: “The Bush administration privately offered him (Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas) an assurance: Any Israeli settlement construction that took place during the talks would not be accepted by the United States when it came time to draw a final Israeli border.

• Do not get derailed by provocation

Diehl writes the following:

“As Rice might have told the current White House, lesson No. 1 from history is that there will always be a provocation that threatens to derail peace talks -- before they start, when they start and regularly thereafter. (...) The trick is not to let the provocation become the center of attention but instead to insist on proceeding with the negotiations.”

Read Diehl’s piece, A Familiar Obstacle to Mideast Peace: Mahmoud Abbas, here.

Certainly, the Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations will provide plenty of material to study negotiation practices, and to see what works and what doesn’t.

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PROCUREMENT at AMERICAN EXPRESS

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PLANNER at HONEYWELL

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CONTRACTS MANAGER at HEWLETT-PACKARD
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