Managing Conflict 1
Running head: THE U.S. ROLE IN THE MEDIATING THE ISRAELI – PALESTINIAN CONFLICT
By Andrew Ciccone
Professor R. J. Meyers
Independent Study - Summer 2008
Managing Conflict 2
The U.S. Role in the Mediating the Israeli – Palestinian Conflict
Shocks are transitional situations or events that can instigate a major period of change in adversarial
relations by altering key expectancies. If shocks reinforce existing notions, actors are unlikely to adjust
their strategies and actions accordingly. Should an event or shock challenge preconceived expectations
on a subject, actors are more likely to reassess the validity of their orientations and if necessary revise or
abandon them. Shocks can be transforming events if they cause adversaries to realize that their past
strategies cannot triumph, or there is less to be gained by maintaining a position. An event may also
accommodate a differing strategy that promises to offer a better alternative or favored outcome
(Kriesberg, 1998; 217).
Shocks can be either exogenous. or endogenous.; neither is assumed to have a more important impact than
the other. Exogenous shocks emerge from the environment that is external to the protracted conflict
(changes in the international or regional distribution of power; global war; etc.). While endogenous
shocks occur within the domestic contexts of the adversaries such as leadership changes (Goertz & Diehl,
1997). The more entrenched the expectations and the deeper the strategic inertia, the stronger the shocks
must be in order to shift expectations into a new direction (Thompson, 1998; Young, 1998). Critical
events (or potentially significant transforming events) can be policy windows that allow proponents of
change to assert their political leadership by advancing new alternatives to old problems.
Third party pressures on the principal adversaries can play a significant role on resolving conflicts.
External mediation (U.S. involvement) is helpful in bringing about de-escalation, but is unlikely to be
successful in the absence of expectancy revision by either one or both adversaries or policy entrepreneurs.
Shock events can play an important role here in creating opportunities for change. External mediators are
Managing Conflict 3
well aware of the fact that certain periods are more propitious (or ripe) for bringing about de-escalation
than at other times. Therefore, shocks are likely to stimulate or renew third party efforts in coordinating
peace efforts, encouraging innovative initiatives by adversaries, providing incentives for settlements, and
contributing to the implementation and durability of the agreements (Kriesberg, 1998; Hartzell, 1999;
Walter, 1999). Although third party pressure is neither a necessary nor sufficient factor for de-escalation,
its presence in the context of a shock event is more likely to reduce intractability than at other times.
Third party pressure also needs to be considered in the context of triangular relationships. If third parties
happen to be regional hegemony (such as the U.S.A in the Middle East), bilateral relations can be
transformed into triangular situations where the behavior of local actors to each other is a response to
actions directed towards them. Triangular responses can be either reciprocal or inverse.
The Israeli – Palestinian conflict will be examined in how the U.S. policies and involvement has
contributed to issue management resolution. This case is no so unique that a general model of the de-
escalation of protracted conflicts cannot be applied to a wider range of cases as the Israel and the PLO
straddle the conceptual boundaries of internal and external actors.
Managing Conflict 4
The U.S. Role in the Mediating the Israeli – Palestinian Conflict
I. Historical Background of the Region
II. Nation Boundaries
III. The Expectations Created by the Media
IV. Instant Access in a World of Transparency
V. Managing the Flow and Control of Information
VI. The Gap between the Promise and Results
VII. Transformative Events Contributing to Crisis Resolution - Shock Events
VIII. Situational Crisis Communication Theory
IX. Assessing the Conflict
X. Conflict Resolution Strategies
XI. The U.S. Role as a Stakeholder, Mediator & Facilitator
XII. A Durable and Lasting Resolution
XIII. Analysis of the Impact of Shock Events
Managing Conflict 5
Protracted conflicts de-escalate when adversaries assume new interpretations, understandings, and
expectations of their opponents (Adler, 1991). Changes in opinion occur when external and internal
environmental events bring about the realization of other conceivable expectations. The gradual changes
in a collective group‟s reality may occur after one defining event. The defining event that radically
changes the public‟s attitudes is more than likely a culmination of a series of events that may have shaped
opinions for a period of time spanning a number of years. Crises hasten the re-evaluation process,
stakeholders move from one set of collective understandings to another. Progress is contingent upon the
direction of the public‟s shift in reality. A desired opinion on an issue is more likely to produce fruitful
negotiations. Past history on the evolutionary framework of U.S. intervention in the Israeli – Palestinian
conflict is analyzed to learn how conflict is resolved and to provide a better understanding of crisis
The de-escalation of protracted conflicts ultimately depends on favorable background conditions that
encourage adversaries to believe in settlement of a desired shared vision. De-escalation may arise from
domestic conditions, international relations, and the relations between the adversaries themselves.
Protracted conflicts are evolutionary processes that are subject to change in the context of environmental
challenges. Any resolution is doomed to failure unless there is a willingness to acknowledge and consider
differing policies and ideologies.
The Israeli– Palestinian case is not so unique that a generic model of the de-escalation of protracted
conflicts cannot be applied. Since this case is neither strictly a civil war nor an interstate war, it
demonstrates that rivalry, intractable conflicts, or rivalry de-escalation do not reside exclusively in the
theoretical domain of either domestic or international conflict (Thompson, 1998). There is no reason to
assume that this model is context-specific and cannot be applied to a wider range of cases.
Managing Conflict 6
The roots of Arab–Islamic disaffection with the West go back to the last years of the 18th century, when
Napoleon‟s armies landed in Egypt. The inception of Western colonialism imposed the Arabs and
Muslims to religious reform and distinctly foreign cultural values that Arabs and Muslims fervently
embraced medieval Islam in the hope that it would save their cultural identity. It has in many ways
hardened their unfavorable views of Western culture.
Some regard the Israeli–Palestinian conflict as emerging in the late 1800s, when Jewish immigration to
the Palestinian portion of the Ottoman Empire began to increase. Others date the conflict‟s start with the
establishment of the British mandate for Palestine after World War I, dated from the establishment of the
State of Israel formed as a Jewish state in 1948 (Khouri, 1985) through a UN General Assembly
Resolution. Israel has been attacked by surrounding Arab countries resisting its acceptance in the region
for decades over major differences in ideological and beliefs of the origins of civilization. The
establishment of Israel precipitated 80% of the Palestinians either fleeing or being driven out of their
homes to refugee camps (Arzt, 1997; Morris, 1987). Arab nationalism emerged as a response to the
British and French colonialism as well a broken promise after WWI to assisting in achieving Arab
national independence and the growing Zionist movement.
Today, Zionism and Palestinian nationalism are the two main contending ideologies that encompass the
struggle over power, control of the water and land, and ethnic survival. Between 1949 and 1967,
Palestine was effectively divided between Israel and Jordan, as the West Bank was incorporated into
Jordan (Shlaim, 1992). After the 1967 war, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip were ruled by Israel as
occupied territories. Both movements claim to represent a dispersed people - the Jews having lived in
Diaspora for 2000 years, the Palestinians increasingly expelled from Palestine as a result of Jewish
Managing Conflict 7
Historical Background (Cont’d)
colonization during the last hundred years. The Palestine conflict is a conflict between two national
movements, Zionism and Palestinian nationalism. Both movements are involved in a state formation
process basically concerning the territory of the former 1922 British Mandate of Palestine.
A ‟nation‟ is a group whose members place loyalty to the group as a whole over any conflicting
„loyalties‟. What constitutes the group, then, is a mixture of some common basic ‟social properties‟ such
as history, culture, religion, language and affiliation to a limited geographical area (IESS, vol. 11-12, p.
7). The formation of Israel, the migration of Jews, the growing determination of the Jews for a nation,
and the Zionist movement all contributed to the Palestinian‟s realization that they had no sense of self and
the formation of the Palestinian national movement. The concept of ‟nation‟ generally has a territorial
dimension, a matter of gaining control over the area they inhabited and lost upon the formation of Israel, a
new entity in the Arab world. Although of differing ideologies, Palestinians and Jews separately as a
nation share religion, language, history and culture; and they do so in relation to a certain geographical
area. This struggle has developed in the context of traditional Islamic concepts of loyalty, and its
methods for fighting Israel, and the Western nation-state concept. The common threads of home and
family are the ideals that polarize the Jewish and Arab cultures. In Islamic culture „wantan‟ means
homeland and „quam‟ means family or tribe (Joffé 1982).
Zionist leader Arthur Ruppin has estimated the population in Palestine in 1880 to have roughly 35,000
Jews, which was 7% of the total population. Jewish Emigration to Israel over the past 100 years of re-
settlement as of 1946 has resulted in 608,000 Jews or 33% of the total population of Israel (Persson 1980,
p. 40). The Zionist movement to create a society ‟secured by public law‟ based on the 1897 Basel
Program of The First Zionist Congress represented a real threat to the interests of the Palestinians. Both
parties want to establish independent states and both movements are still today are in a state formation
Managing Conflict 8
Nation Boundaries (Cont’d)
process. Although Israel is recognized by many states, and is a member of the UN, its many wars with
surrounding states indicate that the state formation process is unresolved. Today, there is no agreement
over the boarders between Palestine and Israel and its neighbors.
The Expectations Created by the Media
The media plays an important role in the complex dynamic relationship between the policies‟ enacted and
the assessment of any crisis. The “CNN effect” or classic „watchdog journalism‟ acknowledges the
media‟s influence on governmental policy-making process. National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice
views the media as “a problem in policymaking” because “the media wants to know what the president
has done for world peace today,” while implementation often takes consistent long-term effort, “and if
you are out there, having to report every day what you are doing is not very helpful” (Kralev 2000a: 88).
Conversely the media can fully support and serve policy known as the “manufacturing consent” theory
and the “news management” function. Secretary of State Colin Powell has argued that “live television
coverage doesn‟t change the policy, but it does create the environment in which the policy is made”
(McNulty 1993: 80).
It is important to identify the major constraints of real-time coverage: shortening of the time available for
policy making and demanding immediate response to crises and events, excluding experts and diplomats,
facilitating diplomatic manipulations, creating high expectations, broadcasting deficient reports, and
making instant judgments. Real-time television coverage is able to constrain the policy process primarily
because of the high speed of broadcasting and transmission information reducing the time of information
transmission from weeks to minutes. The time to officially respond to the construction and destruction of
the Berlin Wall clearly demonstrates this constraint. In 1961, President John F. Kennedy waited eight
days before making an official statement on the construction of the Wall. In 1989, President George Bush
commented after less than eight hours on the destruction of the Wall. The artificial construct of time is
Managing Conflict 9
The Expectations Created by the Media (Cont’d)
now compressed, shortening the time available for policy making and demanding immediate response to
crises and events, creating high expectations, broadcasting deficient reports, and making instant
Many policy-makers acknowledge the effects of the twenty-four-hour global news coverage on policy
making. Former secretary of state James Baker has acknowledged the effects of twenty-four global news
coverage on policy identifying three factors, two negative and one positive. Baker references the negative
effects manifested from the need to respond quickly to events without sufficient time to consider options
and the need to maintain control over an issue as television does subtly shape the public‟s national
interest. Baker also mentioned the positive impact of using global television for fast and direct
communication with foreign leaders (Kalb 1996: 7). During the 1991 Gulf War, Baker used CNN to
quickly communicate the last U.S. ultimatum to Saddam Hussein (Neuman 1996:2). Tactically using the
media however, is a double- edged sword in that adversaries can also wield its power to advance their
ends. Former secretary of state Madeleine Albright noticed this duality; global television coverage
contributes to policy making “because you know what‟s going on and there is a real-time sense about
things – “but she added that it makes you have to respond to events much faster than it might be prudent,
because facts may come in incorrect, but you don‟t have time to put them in context, so you respond just
to a little nugget of fact, and when you learn the context later, things change.” (Kralev 2001: 105)
Scholar Beschloss (1993) has argued that the speed of this coverage may force hurried responses based on
intuition rather than on careful extensive policy deliberation, and this may lead to dangerous policy
mistakes. In our real-time twenty-four-seven world of transparency; would President Kennedy have had
the time to carefully consider options to resolve the Cuban missile crisis? Kennedy had thirteen days to
negotiate an acceptable agreement with the Soviets, ending the crisis. Dee Dee Myers, President Bill
Clinton‟s press secretary also contrasted the time Kennedy had to make decisions in the Cuban crisis with
Managing Conflict 10
The Expectations Created by the Media (Cont’d)
the immediacy of today‟s reality of transparency. She contends that Bill Clinton would have about 30
minutes. Meyer‟s worries that the time allowed to make an informed decision is compromised during a
crisis, that‟s a troubling development. (Patterson 2000: 130–31)
Former secretary of state Lawrence Eagleburger said, “The public hears of an event now in real time,
before the State Department has had time to think about it. Consequently, we find ourselves reacting
before we‟ve had time to think.” (Pearce 1995: 18) Journalists Daniel Schorr agrees with both scholars
and public officials:
Think about the communication age we live in and the way nail-biting officials must
make fateful decisions without time to think. And, if you are like me, you will worry a
little bit when powerful people make snap decisions, trying to keep up with the
In most cases, the more the time decision makers have for collecting information, consultation, and
thinking, the greater is the probability of making strategic smart policies. He who hesitates is lost. The
paradox of timely responses versus careful consideration of policy options may create the impression both
at home and abroad of confusion or not being in control over events. President Jimmy Carter‟s counsel,
Lloyd Cutler (Gilboa, 2003), explained that if a president does not respond quickly to a crisis, the
networks may report that his “advisers are divided, that the president cannot make up his mind, or that
while the president hesitates, his political opponents know exactly what to do.” Leaders and CEO‟s alike
continue to face the dilemma of living in a world of immediacy that the pressures of time create. To
deliberate or respond in real-time posses potential problems, a statement on television becomes a
commitment to a policy that leaders may find difficult to reverse or even change.
Managing Conflict 11
Instant Access in a World of Transparency
The revolution in communications and Internet technologies poses new challenges and opportunities for
real change to improve the global community transcending boundaries and boarders. We are bombarded
with an enormous multitude of information streaming from channels outside the traditional sources of
communication. Before the global communication revolution, a message sent via a traditional media was
targeted and exclusive. Messages required either local, national, and or international channels to reach
the intended audiences. This is no longer the case; the Internet reaches everyone, everywhere, messages
simultaneously in real-time reach local and foreign audiences, including enemies and allies. Instant
access to information anywhere-anytime creates new audiences internationally to disseminate information
and messages, and the potential to anonymoU.S.ly transmit misleading or outright lies that can damage
reputations and further contentious relations involving governments.
Reporters are expected not only to report what they see and hear but also to understand and explain events
to audiences around the world, albeit in a manner consistent with the time constraints of television. CBS‟s
Lesley Stahl (Gilboa, 2003) admitted “our time to reflect on the events we covered, to put them into
context, and figure out what was important and was not, was disappearing. This was obviously a
momentous change, but little thought was given to the consequences.” Because of technological
advances, it is possible today to carry in a few suitcases all the equipment needed to broadcast, and it
takes only minutes to prepare for live reporting. Yet fast reporting may be incomplete at best and very
inaccurate at worst (Seib 2002: 13).
Managing the Flow and Control of Information
The “mutual exploitation” model, suggests that “policymaking cannot be done without the media, nor can
the media cover international affairs without government cooperation.” Consequently, the government
and the media incorporate each other into their own existence, “sometimes for mutual benefit, sometimes
for mutual injury, often both at the same time” (O‟Hefferman 1993, 189). The impact of the fundamental
Managing Conflict 12
Managing the Flow and Control of Information (Cont’d)
framework of “news management” refers to the control of information and leveraging the power of the
mass media, demonstrated in recent wars and military operations such as the 1991 Gulf War, Kosovo, and
Afghanistan (Carruthers 2000). The American employment of “embedded journalism” in the 2003 war in
Iraq is also a dramatic example of this mode of media-policy relationship. “News management” means
that the media primarily functions as a tool in the hands of policymakers. Conversely, commentators and
scholars refer to the CNN effect to explicate television coverage, primarily of horrific humanitarian
disasters, that forces policymakers to take actions they otherwise may not have, such as military
intervention (Robinson 2002). Critics may deliberate the extent that the media shapes our nation‟s
interests and perhaps usurps policy making from elected and appointed officials.
War, diplomacy, and other international crises are complicated, it takes time to resolve this conflicts. The
public‟s expectation of instant results is an unrealistic expectation that the media in many ways amplifies
this mentality. Failure to meet these expectations may result in huge disillusionment with the
establishment and may damage or complicate international diplomacy.
CNN‟s Wolf Blitzer‟s reports from the Pentagon of the 1991 Gulf War troubled Chairman of the Joint
Chiefs of Staff Colin Powell, (Gilboa, 2003) “it seems as if all that remained was to organize the victory
parade.” Powell prompted the Pentagon‟s spokesperson to advise Blitzer “this is the beginning of a war,
not the end of ball game.” Blitzer understandably modified the content and tone of his reports on the war.
This exchange exemplifies these challenges and how to manage this situation in a positive, ethically
During the 1991 Gulf War, Saddam Hussein released a statement intended to create the impression that he
was ready to accept the allies‟ terms to end the war. News agencies around the world intimated that the
war might be over, heads of state and diplomats around the globe jammed up the White House
Managing Conflict 13
Managing the Flow and Control of Information (Cont’d)
switchboard to learn what the United States intended to do. (Gilboa, 2003) President H.W. Bush and
Secretary of State Baker and he felt Hussein‟s peace plan was false and determined they had less than
thirty minutes to dismiss the Iraqi deal or risk the disintegration of the coalition fighting Hussein. This
tactic of playing out a power move via the media on a world stage is not often been employed, but it was
effectively used here to limit Hussein‟s adverse affects of television coverage. Audience multiplicity
necessitates a global response with one voice that addresses competitors and primary stakeholders alike,
thus necessitating transparency.
Communications professionals can no longer rely solely on the written word to conger positive images
savvy communicators integrate site, sound, and motion in a carefully orchestrated performance to convey
complicated ideas and issues. Images can create the intended message perhaps better than any other
mode of communication. We need only remember the Kennedy – Nixon televised debate to explicate this
point. Surprisingly many CEO‟s and leaders forget or have not fully realized the impact the media has on
key stakeholders. Before making important policy statements and pursuing significant actions,
communications experts must prepare key leaders to anticipate questions the media are likely to ask and
more importantly prepare in advance responses to potentially damaging issues with persuasive strategic
The Gap between Promise and Results
The global twenty-four-hour broadcasts create information “vacuums” that create an environment for
immediacy. Journalists, commentators, and opponents feel the pressures to speculate and interpret
policies beforehand creating a dangerous prescient. Diplomatic transcendent events, celebrations of
breakthroughs in negotiations between combatants, are significant as there is an opportunity to change the
publics‟ opinions (Dayan and Katz 1992). The drama and excitement of these events create high
expectations for rapid and efficient progress toward peace. Upon reflection, past American- Israeli-Arab
Managing Conflict 14
The Gap between Promise and Results (Cont’d)
peace processes clearly demonstrate that; even after significant initial breakthroughs and emotional
speeches, difficult and long negotiations are needed to conclude agreements. The gap between the
promise of media events and the actual results often creates confusion and disappointments, as there are
those who become restless for change (Gilboa 2002b: 204–7). Clinton‟s adviser Dick Morris (Gilboa,
2003) observed that policy and process are developed by the interplay of public officials, the media, and
the voters. Each has its role; each has its limitations. But none of the players recognize their limits and all
are constantly trying to transcend them. Communications experts need to be involved not only in the
planning phase, but in every aspect of crafting of the policy. James Rubin‟s participation in policy
making during the Kosovo crisis and Ari Fleischer‟s presence in White House policy making in the
aftermath of the terrorist attacks in the United States can not be overestimated; as their effective media
relations clearly explained very complex and potentially confusing interpretations of policy.
Situational Crisis Communication Theory
Situational crisis communication theory develops a prescriptive system for matching crisis response
strategies to the crisis situation. An organization‟s reputation is recognized as a valued resource
(Winkleman, 1999). Communicative response to a crisis can serve to limit and even to repair the
reputational damage. Apologies require an organization to publicly accept responsibility for a crisis,
thereby weakening its legal position in the event of a lawsuit (Fitzpatrick, 1995; Tyler, 1997). A
situational approach to selecting crisis response strategies as to what an organization says and does during
and after a crisis to protect the organizational reputation (Benson, 1988). The success of diffusing a crisis
is married to identifying the crisis type or situation that influenced the selection of crisis response
strategies. Situational crisis communication theory SCCT builds upon Coombs‟s (1995) previous
research and other crisis management scholars on matching crisis response strategies to the crisis
situation. Research suggests that communicators that provide instructing information, what publics need
to know and do to protect them selves from the crisis, is necessary before addressing reputational
Managing Conflict 15
Situational Crisis Communication Theory (Cont’d)
concerns (Coombs, 1999a; Coombs & Holladay, 2001; Sturges, 1994). The crisis manager must
conceptualize the frame that publics use to interpret the event in order to evaluate the attributions of
personal control, or the organization‟s ability to control the event, and crisis responsibility, or how much
the organization is to blame for the event. The crisis manager should select a crisis response strategy
appropriate for the amount of potential reputational damage a crisis may inflict. The stronger the
potential reputational damage the more the crisis response strategy must try to accommodate the victim or
victims adversely affected by the crisis. Publics will expect an organization to do more for victims of the
crisis when the organization is held more accountable for the crisis (Coombs, 1995). The crisis response
strategies should then mitigate reputational damage demonstrating that the organization cares for the
victims, thereby meeting public expectations.
Coombs (1999b) synthesized eight crisis response strategies:
1. An attack on the accuser, in which the crisis manager confronts the group or person that
claims a crisis exists;
2. Denial, in which the crisis manager claims that there is no crisis;
3. Excuse, in which the crisis manager attempts to minimize organizational responsibility
for the crisis;
4. Victimization, in which the crisis manager reminds stakeholders that the organization is a
victim of the crisis as well;
5. Justification, in which the crisis manager attempts to minimize the perceived damage
inflicted by the crisis;
6. Ingratiation, in which the crisis manager praises stakeholders and reminds them of the
past good works done by the organization;
Managing Conflict 16
Situational Crisis Communication Theory (Cont’d)
7. Corrective action, in which the crisis manager tries to prevent a repeat of the crisis and/or
repair the damage done by the crisis;
8. Full apology, in which the crisis manager publicly accepts responsibility for the crisis and
requests forgiveness from the stakeholders.
A basic assumption underlying much of crisis management planning is that “crises can be grouped
according to their underlying structural similarity” (Mitroff, 1988, p. 16; see also Marcus & Goodman,
1991; Pearson & Mitroff, 1993). Cluster analysis s aids in simplifying and categorizing the severity of
issues to assess a crisis or crises. Preparing a crisis portfolio in anticipation of potential crisis should
reasonably prepare organizations for most crises (Mitroff, 1988; Mitroff et al., 1996).
Crisis types form three distinct clusters: the victim cluster, the accidental cluster, and the preventable
cluster. The victim cluster involves crisis types in which harm is inflicted on the organization as well as
on stakeholders. The accidental cluster involves unintentional actions by an organization. In these crisis
types the organization does not intend for the crisis to occur; rather, the crisis situation results from a
danger associated with the organization‟s operation. The preventable cluster, on the other hand, involves
intentionally placing stakeholders at risk, knowingly violating laws or regulations, or not doing enough to
prevent an accident or a defective product from reaching the market.
Managing Conflict 17
Situational Crisis Communication Theory (Cont’d)
1. Rumor: circulation of false information designed to harm an organization.
2. Natural disaster: a naturally occurring event (act of God) that damages an organization.
3. Malevolence/product tampering: damage by an external agent against an organization.
4. Workplace violence: an attack by an employee or former employee on current employees
on the job.
5. Challenge: confrontation by disgruntled stakeholders claiming an organization is
operating in an inappropriate manner.
6. Technical breakdown accident: an industrial accident caused by technology or equipment
7. Technical breakdown product recall: the recall of a product because of technology or
8. Mega damage: a technical breakdown accident that produces significant environmental
9. Human breakdown accident: an industrial accident caused by human error.
10. Human breakdown product recall: a product recall because of human error.
11. Organizational misdeeds with no injuries (to external stakeholders): management
knowingly deceives stakeholders but without causing injury.
12. Organizational misdeed management misconduct: management knowingly violates laws
13. Organizational misdeeds with injuries (to external stakeholders): management
knowingly places stakeholders at risk and some are injured.
Source: Coombs (1999b)
Conflict Resolution Methods
The methods change as the course of the conflict moves from one stage to another. At some point in a de-
escalating conflict, negotiations may come to be regarded as an attractive way to conduct and to conclude
a conflict. During conflict negotiations communication with disparate ideas is often lacking as
negotiators sequester themselves from outside distractions, those who may benefit from diverse views are
often the ones most difficult to engage. Outside influences are perceived as untrustworthy or antagonistic
and unacceptable negotiating partners. Problem-solving workshops can lay the preparatory groundwork
Managing Conflict 18
Conflict Resolution Methods (Cont’d)
for official negotiations. A workshop usually goes on for several days, moving through a few stages of
discussion and generally do not attempt to negotiate agreements. The Jews and Palestinians in Israel and
in the Diaspora have engaged in ongoing dialogue groups, workshops, and encounter groups. In
Syracuse, New York, a small dialogue group consisting, in equal numbers, of U.S. citizens of Palestinian,
Jewish, and „other‟ communities have met since 1981 (Schwartz, 1989). To offset the asymmetry in the
Israeli – Palestinian relations balancing the numbers of each side and balancing the members‟
presentations, workshop facilitators may create an environment conducive to substantive talks. No single
mediating method is completely adequate in conflict resolution, combinations of approaches are
necessary, sometimes simultaneoU.S.ly and sometimes sequentially.
Unofficial groups may also aid in generating significant social movement action that supports the work
needed to construct and sustain a just and abiding mutual accommodation between adversaries (Saunders,
1985). The focus of these meetings should include sub-groups with little representation on each side to
recognize how the other side sees the conflict and consider possible re-conceptualizations of the conflict
so that shared gains become feasible. The process of reaching an agreement is important, but that alone
does not determine the viability or the fairness of the agreement reached. The content of a peace
agreement also requires great attention.
Convenors and facilitators of interactive problem-solving workshops, dialogue groups, back-channel
meetings between adversaries, and other official and nonofficial meetings usually play a mediator role.
These settings tend to be particularly useful in preparing the groundwork for official negotiations,
reviving stalled negotiations, and developing support for negotiated agreements. Interested external
stakeholders such as the United States can play a role in affecting talks and aid in problem solving. Past
experience indicates that lower-level officials have greater success initiating dialogue for conflict
resolution. Upon attaining a shared point of view, high-ranking officials often apply coercive pressure or
Managing Conflict 19
Conflict Resolution Methods (Cont’d)
promise great rewards that may bring about an accord. Un-official emissaries are have a high success rate
in eventually engaging high level officials in exploratory discussions with one or more of the parties in
the conflict to be mediated. Point of fact, had the U.S. governmental contacts not met indirectly with the
PLO, many experts believe that the open dialogue with the Israelis would not of been possible at that
Utilizing secret back channel negotiations (van der Merwe, 1989), both the Palestinian and Israeli
leaderships were able to explore alternative options and construct a framework for substantive
peacemaking measures without the predictable internal resistance until a deal had been struck. Both sides
have clear biases and factions within each party hold hostile views of the other side; however this stealth
tactic did in fact engage Jewish and Islamic religious leaders in dialogue and in developing shared ideas
(Gopin, 2001). The „Jerusalem Religious Peace Agreement‟, was drafted as a result of back channel
We also express our wish for greater harmony and understanding between the believers –
Muslims and Jews. We the descendents of Ishmael and Isaac, the children of Abraham,
are united today to offer our prayers from the heart to G-d. We pray for the end of all
enmity and for the beginning of an era of peace, love and compassion (Gopin, 2001).
The pace of the peace process is dependent on internal and external events that impact and are beyond the
control of both parties. This incremental process resulted in the 1994 Cairo Agreement for Palestinian
self-rule in the Gaza Strip and Jericho in May; the August 1994 agreement for the „Preparatory Transfer
of Powers and Responsibilities in the West Bank‟; and in September 1995 the agreement to transfer civil
control of the Palestinian population centers.
Managing Conflict 20
Conflict Resolution Methods (Cont’d)
A neutral mediator that is not perceived by either party as a vested stakeholder, with limited political
power was utilized in informal but intensive discussions, using a problem-solving approach (Holst, 1994).
This tactical approach was initiated via the Norwegians, who facilitated the meetings, logistical
arrangements, and assisted in communications between negotiating Israeli – Palestinian talks (Savir,
1998); both sides perceived the Norwegians as neutral, objective, and in good faith to engage both sides
in conflict resolution (Aggestam, 1999: 183). Unlike some interactive conflict resolution workshops,
both sides agreed to avoid delving into old grievances (Rothman, 1997; Rouhana, 1995) which may be
considered to be a significant factor in these meetings.
Intermediaries such as the United States, using the problem-solving approach to mediation have made
important contributions in the de-escalation and transformation of the Israeli – Palestinian conflict
providing adversaries with the opportunity to explore substantive avenues for negotiation. The U.S.
primarily assisted each side to accurately “hear” the other side‟s position; while being sensitive to avoid
using words or making references that would be construed as unintentionally provocative.
Assessment of the Israeli – Palestinian Conflict
The U.S. role in the creation of Israel in 1948 was decisive (Truman, 1956: 143-169; Campbell, 1975),
and alienated much of the Arab world. The Palestinians began to embrace a nationalistic movement after
the culmination and actualization from the conflicts dominated from the Arab states and Israel, spanning
from 1948 to 1967. The Six Day War of 1967 marks the end this intermediate phase of Israel –
Palestinian conflict. The insurgent phases lead by the Palestinian Liberation Organization PLO, from
1967 and onwards mark the rise of the conscious military and non-military resistance to undermine the
Zionist movement. The Pan-Arabic motive is reduced and the territory of Palestine, as are the cultural
Managing Conflict 21
Assessment of the Israeli – Palestinian Conflict (Cont’d)
affiliations to it (Jureidini & Hazen 1976). Religiously, the Palestinians are divided into Muslims and
In 1956, the Eisenhower Administration was instrumental in securing U.N. condemnation of the British-
French-Israeli attack on Egypt and the passage of the resolution calling for the troops of these countries to
withdraw from Egyptian territory by Eisenhower‟s pressure on the Jewish state to force compliance
A key component of this protracted conflict is the Palestinians „intractability‟ or their resistance to
conflict resolution (Kriesberg, Northrup & Thorson, 1989). Such intransigence results from the
entrenched expectations that each side has of the other in terms of their strategies, tactics, and past actions
(Modelski, 1996: 333–334). The Israeli position on the Arabs over the years has on occasion been
seemingly irrational and insensitive; at times they have exercised remarkable humility and common sense.
Since June 1967 enlightened self-interest has been Israel‟s guiding principle. In the past the Arab
position on Israel has been characterized as fanatical, self-deceptive, inflexible, and morally
reprehensible. The primary barriers to a peaceable accord are the Palestinian‟s historical refU.S.al to take
responsibility for past terrorist acts of violence and their rigid position on any possibility of reconciliation.
Historically the Israeli government would not deal directly with the PLO, and Arab governments would
not directly negotiate with Israel. Given the mistrust between the two parties, the Jordanian government
gave legal cover in 1991 to PLO in negotiations with Israel by including Palestinians approved by the
PLO and by Israel in the Jordanian delegation at the Madrid conference. Anticipating the destructive
impact terrorist acts, negotiations are predicated on a continuous step by step process as both sides share a
mutual expectation for the establishment of a Palestinian State. This crisis is complicated, on the surface
the Israelis clearly have superior military capabilities, arguably a moral justification, the economic
Managing Conflict 22
Assessment of the Israeli – Palestinian Conflict (Cont’d)
resources to finance, and protect their nation, strong allies (such as the U.S.) and legal claims (U.N.
resolution for the nation of Israel). The dynamics of the entire region must be considered in order to
realistically assess the Israeli – Palestinian (Arab) conflict as bordering neighbors indirectly influence this
situation. Let‟s be clear the Palestinians, like the Jews have been forcibly ousted from their homes and
land. The larger Arab nations in many ways have influenced this unacceptable and troubling situation for
the Jews and the Palestinians. The Israeli view is that the PLO wants to ‟annihilate the State of Israel‟
(Medzini 1981, p. 547), based on article 15 in the Palestine National Charter, which speaks of the
elimination of Zionism in Palestine. The PLO has argued that it does not mean a physical destruction of
present Israel but rather a transition process similar to the change of Rhodesia into Zimbabwe.
Transformative Events Contributing to Crisis Resolution
Critical events or shocks play a critical role in transforming intractable conflicts, if they influence the key
stakeholders to re-evaluate their prior expectations. A decidedly new consciousness must be realized,
furthering a desire to engage in negotiations. De-escalation occurs when actors question the viability of
existing conflict patterns and most importantly adopt new ways of thinking about their adversaries.
Shock events can have escalatory or de-escalatory effect; their impacts are highly contingent on the
timing, context, and changes in a leader‟s expectations or his constituency. Jervis (1997: 126) suggests
environmental stimuli that set off positive feedback at one point in time can also set off negative feedback
at another as the state of a system changes. The randomness and unpredictability of shock events makes
it difficult to posit a deterministic outcome; consequently, shocks are „necessary but insufficient‟ triggers
Despite this variability, it is reasonable to hypothesize that shocks and expectancy changes are more
likely to bring about de-escalation when they converge with three other variables: Policy power brokers
who have been bestowed political clout to overcome the various internal factions that embrace positions
Managing Conflict 23
Transformative Events Contributing to Crisis Resolution (Cont’d)
that prohibit any substantive dialogue; External third-party pressures such as the United States who have
played a role as a mediator with motivations to foment a de-escalation regarding this conflict; And
reciprocity. All of these variables contribute to aiding in the initiation of de-escalation and also sustain
the process through continual reinforcement. The connections between shocks, power brokers,
reciprocity, and third-party pressure are based on the expectations of the actors predicated on the
responses that are strategically formulated to address the (internal or external) forces.
The actor‟s responses interpret their opponent‟s behavior, within the context of other environmental
considerations such as other threats and opportunities, domestic coalitions, allies, capability calculations,
and competing demands for resource allocation (Thompson, 1998). During protracted conflicts, as
expectations among the adversaries become entrenched and intractable over time, strategies and policy
actions become routinized. A shock event may disrupt key power brokers of their constituencies‟ notions
and expectations on critical issues resulting in actors to re-assessing previous positions validity that may
lead to engaging in renewed negotiations. Conversely shocks may not alter expectancies, and may
corroborate current orientations on issues barring any substantive progress of the crisis (Kriesberg, 1998:
Shocks can be either exogenous or endogenous, although either is more important, and one may have a
greater impact on a conflict towards resolution or further diminish any desire to engage in discourse
(Thompson, 1998). Exogenous shocks emerge from the environment that is external to the protracted
conflict (e.g. changes in the international or regional distribution of power; global war), while endogenous
shocks occur within the domestic contexts of the adversaries (e.g. leadership changes, polity alterations)
(Goertz & Diehl, 1997). The more entrenched the expectations and the deeper the strategic inertia, the
stronger the shocks must be in order to tip expectations into a new direction (Thompson, 1998; Young,
Managing Conflict 24
Transformative Events Contributing to Crisis Resolution (Cont’d)
Disruptive transformative shock events may produce expectancy revision and eventual de-escalation
summarized as follows:
1. The emergence of external threats from a new actor(s) that downgrade the threats posed by old
adversaries (Thompson, 1998);
2. Changes in domestic political leaderships and/or institutions that either increase the perception of
value and goal compatibility or alter preference structures that emphasize the management of
domestic problems at the expense of foreign policy problems (Bunce, 1981; Evangelista, 1991;
Licklider, 1993; Lebow, 1995; Bennett, 1997; Thompson, 1998);
3. Significant decreases in the availability of economic resources that are perceived as current or
impending (shadow of the future) (Stein, 1993a; Haggard & Kaufman, 1995; Dogan & Higley,
4. Or, catalytic events that cause adversaries to reconsider their assumptions about their rivals or
change their ability to compete with them - e.g. military defeat, collapse and/or occupation, loss
of external patronage, civil war (Tilly, 1978; Leng, 1983; Reiter, 1994; Lebow, 1995; Lichbach,
1995; Oberschall, 1996; Goertz & Diehl, 1997; Dogan &Higley, 1998).
Theoretically, transformative events can have short-, medium-, and long-term effects. Beyond the
immediate impact, shocks can have a delayed effect as a result of their influence on other intervening
factors. Discerning the time frame of a transformative act makes it difficult to causally attribute the
defining event from the probable other interrelated factors that bring about change. Distance often lends a
clearer assessment of what transformative act affected the significant change in attitudes and how this act
brought about that change. The complex Arab–Israeli conflict has undergone a profound de-escalation;
many partial settlements have been reached:
Managing Conflict 25
TRANFORMATIVE SHOCK EVENTS & ACCORDS 1974 – 2000
1974, November The Arab states at Rabat declare that the PLO is the sole representative
of the Palestinian people.
1976, April Palestinian nationalists win municipal elections on West Bank.
1978, September A Framework for Peace in the Middle East signed at Camp David.
1985, February The Jordanian–PLO accord on negotiations with Israel.
1987, December Palestinian uprising (Intifada) begins.
1988, July King Hussein announces Jordan‟s disengagement from the West Bank.
1988, December U.S.A and PLO enter into direct communications.
1991, October Middle East Peace Conference, Madrid
1993, January Secret meetings initiated in Oslo, Norway, between PLO officials and
unofficial Israeli representatives.
1993, September The PLO and the Israeli government sign the Declaration of Principles;
Arafat and Rabin shake hands.
1994, May Cairo Agreement for „self-rule‟ in Gaza and Jericho.
1994, August PLO and Israeli government sign „Preparatory Transfer of Powers and
Responsibilities in the West Bank‟.
1994, October Israeli–Jordanian peace treaty signed.
1995, September Israel and PLO sign interim agreement to transfer control of major
Palestinian-populated areas in the occupied territories.
1998, October Wye River Memorandum signed by Netanyahu and Arafat.
1999, September Barak and Arafat agree to revision of Wye Memorandum and its
implementation and to resume Permanent Status negotiations in an
2000, July Camp David II negotiations between Israeli and Palestinian delegations,
mediated by Clinton.
Recently U.S. peace envoys appear to be focused on resolving uncontrollable outbursts of violence than
on achieving enduring peace. One should bear in mind that even a well-founded resolution and just goal
may not automatically become the best basis for a durable settlement. As with any crisis, a successful
resolution must realistically consider the long-term prognosis for an enduring and durable settlement.
Managing Conflict 26
Durable Solutions (Cont’d)
Conflict research purports four main precepts that have a high level of success for a lasting and durable
The parties‟ subjective conflict definitions are employed in a proposal;
If a proposal regulates basic and/or indivisible values;
If a proposal is realized at a low military level and;
If a proposal promotes the realization of Human Rights.
Each of the adversaries‟ opposing values creates incompatibility that is an impediment to finding a
peaceable resolution to protracted conflicts. Values can be material or immaterial, divisible/indivisible,
relative/absolute etc. There are also values common to each party that may be referred to as ‟central‟
values. Conflicts over basic and/or indivisible values are more difficult to solve than conflicts over
central and/or divisible values. A durable conflict solution is more likely if the proposal regulates the
distribution of basic and or indivisible values in a conflict. In Israel, a „Jewish state‟ citizens are
registered according to three criteria: citizenship (Israeli), nationality (Jewish, Arabic, British, French
etc.) and religion (Jewish, Christian, etc.). The main common trait of Arabs is the language, but also to a
large extent history and religion (Persson 1980, Ch. 1). Parties joining a conflict confront each others‟
value hierarchies. The value among states is, ‟sovereignty‟ is a common thread between the Palestinians
and the Israelis, while ‟peace‟ is aptly associated with the Jews from the ever present threat of terror from
factions in the region. The conflict is also regarded as an inherent difference in ideology of religion
between the parties.
Managing Conflict 27
Durable Solutions (Cont’d)
„Peace‟ and ‟security‟ are key words in Israeli security policy. Foreign minister Yitzhak Shamir presented
the Israeli position in the following way in 1982:
Peace is fundamental to Israel‟s way of life, and Israel‟s determination to achieve it is
permanent. Security is a vital guarantee of the viability and maintenance of peace.
Together these two objectives provided the conceptual framework that produced the
Camp David accords, and the march along this road must continue unabated. A program
for continued action to secure regional stability and peace must originate from the
countries and governments that will have to implement the peace and live by it.
The majority of Israelis believe any peace accord should include the following elements:
Negotiations between Israel and each of its neighbors, aimed at agreement on a just and lasting
peace, laid out in formal peace treaties, would provide for the establishment of normal
diplomatic, economic and good-neighborly relations.
Recognition of the sovereignty and political independence of all existing states in the region, and
of their right to live in peace within secure and recognized boundaries, free from threats or acts of
force, including terrorist activity of any kind.
Autonomy for the Arab inhabitants of Judea, Samaria and the Gaza district for a five year interim
period, as set forth in the Camp David accords, and deferment of the final determination of the
status of these areas until the end of this transitional period.
Restoration of the full independence of Lebanon, through the withdrawal of Syrian and PLO
forces from the Lebanese territory.
Negotiations, among all the states of the Middle East, aimed at declaring the region a nuclear-
weapons free zone, for the security and well being of all its inhabitants (Nordquist, 1985).
Managing Conflict 28
Durable Solutions (Cont’d)
Paramount to the Israeli Jews is security for Jews. Arafat and the PLO leadership presented themselves as
able to provide security against terrorism and other kinds of attacks against Israel and Jews. Israeli Prime
Minister Rabin argued that the Oslo Accord would enhance Jewish security. Specifically in regard to the
Oslo process both the Jews and the Palestinians view the conflict differently:
Jews want assurance from the Palestinians that there will be no terror attacks.
Extremists view the land as given to the Jews from God.
The Palestinians view the land as their (ancestral) and the Jews representing the western (U.S.)
Arabs see themselves as Palestinians facing discrimination in a Jewish state.
The Jews view the Palestinians as Israelis in a country with a Jewish majority.
Largely due to the views listed above, Oslo agreement and „the peace process‟ was rejected. Jewish
extremists viewed the conflict in terms of religious nationalism; God had given all the land of Israel to
them irrevocably. Islamic activists and ethno-nationalist Palestinians regarded the existence of a Jewish
state on their ancestral land as an unacceptable Western intrusion. Violence and forms of terror resulted
that disrupted and some believe largely contributed to the demise of the Oslo peace process.
The Role of the United States as a Mediator
After the October 1973 war, U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger undertook the role as intermediary
to reach partial settlements between the Israeli and Egyptian governments and between the Israeli and
Syrian governments. Kissinger used the U.S.‟s power and resources to minimize the risk for the Israeli‟s
and Palestinians to further a peaceable accord. Anticipating that no comprehensive settlement was
possible at that time, Kissinger pursued a step-by-step peacemaking strategy. The adversaries negotiated
the disengagement of their military forces, and Israel withdrew from some of the territory it occupied as a
Managing Conflict 29
The Role of the United States as a Mediator (Cont’d)
result of the war (Rubin, 1981). In 1975, Kissinger, attempted to build on the momentum from recent
successes of de-escalation of military forces, however, it soon became clear that the Israelis were not as
flexible as the Ford Administration hoped or thought they should be. The failure to further peace resulted
in President Ford to reassess U.S. policy, in March 1975 clearly straining American-Israeli relations
(Sheehan, 1976: 165).
Power is not enough to broker a peaceable settlement; then President Jimmy attempted to convene a
multilateral peace conference in the Middle East to establish a comprehensive peace. The historic 1978
trip of President Anwar Sadat‟s trip to Israel was generally viewed as a dramatic gesture and sincere
desire for peace. In 1978 President Carter invited President el-Sadat and Prime Minister Begin to Camp
David, after 13 days of seclusion mediated two agreements (Quandt, 1986). International expectations for
peace precipitated disagreements between the Carter Administration and the Israeli government.
Publically President Carter decision to provide neighboring Middle Eastern nations in addition to Israel
with military weaponry was perceived as a destabilizing action creating accusations of Carter being anti-
Semitic or of deliberately distancing the U.S. from Israel (Southerland, 1978). Soon after however, one
of the Camp David accords was the basis for the 1979 Egyptian–Israeli peace treaty and the other the
basis for the failed negotiations concerning the political status and authority of the Palestinians in the
After the culmination of secret back channel negotiations from the PLO and Israeli officials in 1980, the
PLO outlined a five-point provisional program for Palestine in a diplomatic ‟offensive‟ to European
countries (Elon, 1993; Makovsky, 1996). The PLO proposal outlined the Israel withdrawal of occupied
territories as well as Jerusalem, although not ratified. The Camp David Agreement gives the Palestinians
the right to participate in the determination of their future through negotiations on the final status of the
Managing Conflict 30
The Role of the United States as a Mediator (Cont’d)
West Bank and the Gaza Strip, a provision for self-government and participation in the work of the
committee negotiating a peace treaty between Israel and Jordan.
President Reagan reaffirmed the Camp David Agreement 1982, as the foundation of U.S. policy in the
region calling upon Israel to make clear that security can only be reached through genuine peace. Further
that the Palestinians as well as the Arab states should accept the reality of Israel and recognize Israel‟s
right to a secure future. A five-year transition period was outlined in Reagan‟s proposal, for free elections
for a self-governing Palestinian authority. Followed by the creation d Palestinian self-government on the
West Bank and the Gaza Strip, however Jerusalem should remain undivided; its status to be decided upon
The transformative event of the Iraqi military invasion of Kuwait and the consequent military action by
the U.S.-led coalition forces to drive the Iraqi forces from Kuwait; ultimately lead to the U.S. government
initiating comprehensive peace negotiations between the Israeli government and the neighboring Arab
states. Negotiations the ensued honored a commitment made in mobilizing Arab support in the coalition
against Iraq. As a result of the military and peace initiatives the PLO was weakened and isolated by the
Palestinian failure to join the coalition opposing President Saddam Hussein‟s actions. More than likely,
given the Palestinians intolerance towards the Jews, their limited resources, and potential the repercussion
from the neighboring Iraqis, supports the decision not to support this military offensive. U.S. Secretary of
State James A. Baker developed a complex negotiation formula (Baker & DeFrank, 1995) establishing
three arenas for negotiation: a general conference, bilateral meetings between Israel and each neighboring
Arab government, and regional meetings on issues of common concern: water, refugees, environment,
economic development, and regional security. This engagement addressed the entire region‟s issues and
attempted to provide solutions of mutual benefit to the many nations in the Middle East. Of interest here
Managing Conflict 31
The Role of the United States as a Mediator (Cont’d)
the Palestinians would be represented within the Jordanian delegation, and their relationship to the PLO
Given the Palestinians severely weakened resources and position in comparison to the other neighboring
nations‟, the success of the Baker proposal relied primarily on the support of the United States and
Europe. The U.S. government was an attractive mediator, as it has the resources to sustain losses from
such an endeavor and has a long history of involvement in peacemaking development. Also at the time
the U.S. was regarded as a competent and trustworthy mediator. The Israeli–Palestinian conflict
underwent a profound transformation, proceeding slowly at times with severe disruptions and
retrogressions necessitating varying types of mediators at various stages of the process. In 1993, mutual
recognition between the Israeli government and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) resulted in
Israel turning over of the administration of the Gaza Strip and Jericho to the Palestine Authority (PA).
Comparisons are made regarding the different kinds of contributions made by different kinds of mediators
who can provide appropriate and effective contributions. Mediators include intermediaries with leverage,
such as a United States President, and mediators with few material resources, such as unofficial
facilitators. Mediating effectiveness is constrained by the circumstances of each adversary, the adversary
relations, and the historical context. Power brokers on both sides are important in bringing about de-
escalation. Having the authority to overturn policy, the existing institutional structures which limit access
to the policy process and powerful supporting ideologies that reside within these institutions
(Baumgartner & Jones, 1993), leaders must consolidate their political influence by effectively eliminating
or removing their internal opposition and promoting their role as reformers.
Managing Conflict 32
The de-escalation of protracted conflicts is characterized by two primary phases: the period that precedes
an initial political agreement between the adversaries and the consolidation period that follows the initial
settlement. The initial political agreement represents an important turning point toward conflict
termination. It is a formal recognition that the adversaries accept each other and commit themselves to
adjudicating old and new conflicts in restrained, nonviolent ways (Gamson, 1995; Burton & Higley,
1998). Given that initial settlements rarely resolve the underlying issues of the conflict, adversaries
negotiate the finer points of the agreement later during the consolidation period.
Meanwhile, initial agreements usually exclude some groups from the negotiation process. These groups
and their leaders rarely disappear, often launching actions that will either bring down the existing regime
or undermine the terms of the agreement itself (Burton & Higley, 1998: 59). Therefore, adversaries must
consolidate their initial settlements by continuing to make concessions and effectively handling the
appearance of new shocks. The timing, pace, and quality of the concessions will influence the ability of
leaders to overcome new post-settlement shocks that could otherwise derail the de-escalation process.
Moreover, when adversaries work together to overcome these shocks, they deepen their commitments to
new cooperative arrangements.
Two types of post-settlement shocks could slow the transition toward greater de-escalation: removal of
the regime through legitimate or illegitimate means and challenges to the terms of the agreement itself
through a continuation of the political conflict. In the former situation, electoral turnovers, rebellions, or
coups figure prominently as shocks.
In the latter, radicals who reject the initial settlement made by moderates will attempt to undermine the
process through terrorism. Both types of shocks can slow the transition process as leaders of both sides
try to deal with the security issues involved before further agreements are made. Shocks could also harden
Managing Conflict 33
the positions of the public or ruling groups against implementing the initial agreement, constraining
leaders who are willing to move ahead. In short, post settlement shocks may well change the conditions
that brought about the initial settlement by altering or undermining the expectations that supported earlier
cooperative arrangements. On the other hand, a successful response to these challenges by both sides
could expedite the de-escalation process.
This protracted conflict‟s resolution has failed in the past due to the positions staked out by the Israelis
and Palestinians. The Palestinians insist on statehood and the Israelis offer autonomy. The U.S.‟s
involvement is viewed by PLO leaders as excluding and opposing Palestinian statehood. Negative
influences such as news leaks and press conferences have severely impacted past efforts for substantive
negotiations. Secret back channel for negotiations proves to be an effective method to counter
irresponsible acts that attempt to disarm any desire for peace.
Three transformative events on the Palestinian side of the de-escalation process between 1979 and 1998
are identified to evaluate the resolution process:
1. The Israeli invasion of Lebanon, 1982;
2. The Intifada, 1987
Palestinian uprisings against Israeli occupation, in the West Bank and Gaza Strip; the campaign
of disobedience, strikes, and tax revolts included students, teachers, laborers, small businesses,
famers and the poor (Hunter, 1993; Robinson, 1997);
3. And the Gulf War, 1991
Israelis endured incessant missile attacks over 40 days resulting in one death and over 200
wounded; property damage totaled several million dollars in spite of the fact that the Israelis
were not involved in the Gulf War conflict (Arian & Gordon, 1993: 228).
Managing Conflict 34
On the Israeli side of the issue resolutions: the Intifada, 1987 and the Gulf War, 1991 figure prominently.
Numerous proposals for the solution of the Palestine conflict have been presented over the years by
politicians, scholars, the military and diplomats. Many of the proposals for the solution of the Palestinian
conflict presented by politicians, scholars, the military and diplomats with respect to the focus on the
territory of the former British Mandate (territories within Israel), and the positions of the politically
The interaction effects between shock impacts, third-party pressure, and reciprocity are evident and
significant in the long term, but not easily identified in real time. The Israeli invasion reinforced in the
minds of the PLO the necessity of continuing a diplomatic strategy initiated in 1970s, which brought
about changes in the institutional distribution of power within the PLO that supports a de-escalatory
foreign policy. The Israeli invasion and the forced evacuation of the PLO from Lebanon deprived the
PLO of its political and military infrastructure to engage Israeli, but as a consequence this action from the
Israelis, none of the Arab states intervened on behalf of the PLO reaffirmed their belief that a nonmilitary
policy was their best and only option (Tessler, 1994: 612). Consequently, Arafat and significant PLO
leaders intensified diplomatic efforts with Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and the West, notably the U.S.A
while recognizing Israel‟s right to exist. The intent was to appeal to the West, while exerting pressure on
Israel to make meaningful concessions to the Palestinians (Sahliyeh, 1986: 93; Tessler, 1994: 612–615).
This policy was a clear departure from past positions regarding factions within the PLO who employed
radical tactics for furthering goals strengthening the more moderate non-militant policies for peace by the
Managing Conflict 35
Given the proliferation of arms throughout the world, many nations and peoples such as the Afghanis
have found sponsors who provide military advice and firepower. It is plausible that the Palestinians
might find a sponsor that would enable the PLO in engage in a militant offensive. The insurgency in Iraq
also has acquired IEDs and other weaponry. Lasting and durable resolutions are seldom achieved by
military occupation. Any resolution that promotes the actualization of basic human rights arguably has
the greatest chance for lasting peace. Peace requires concessions; historically Israelis have often
mistreated the Palestinians. The U.S. presence in the Middle East has reinforced the long-standing and
persistent belief in Western imperialism. The Palestinian project this Western view towards Israelis, the
quiet expulsion of Palestinians from their land merely confirms this sentiment. There must be a solution
for the Palestinian people, not only from Israel but a cooperative effort from the neighboring Arab states
to recognize the necessity to preserve Human Rights: every people has a right to remain on land they have
held as their own. Jerusalem is steeped in religion; preserving the origins of the great religions may be
addressed by modeling the city after Vatican City. Perhaps a permanent, neutral guard much like the
Swiss would enforce policy sensitive to the religions that are of biblical relevance within the confines of
The Intifada Palestinian uprisings imposed on Arafat and the PLO the urgency and expectations for new
actions to address the interests of local Palestinians sovereignty from Israel in the West Bank and Gaza
strip. In order to gain control over the territories, Arafat and the PLO leadership believed that formal
mediation with the United States was necessary to bring about negotiations with the Israelis. At the
November 1988 Palestinian National Council meeting, the PLO formally declared their independence,
condemned the use of terrorism. This dramatic announcement committed the PLO leadership supporting
the clear Palestinian boundaries within Gaza and the West Bank, publically recognizing Israel‟s right to
exist and a preference for diplomacy for a peaceful settlement with Israel, rather than a military conflict
Managing Conflict 36
(Muslih, 1997: 46–48). The Intifada‟s actions contributed to bringing about a change in attitude towards
achieving sovereignty with a new strategy emphasizing diplomacy.
The 1991 Gulf War and wartime curfews had a devastating impact on the Palestinian economy inside the
territories resulting in an internal power struggle. The 1993 Israeli border closings following Hamas
terrorist bombings further punished the Palestinians resulting in sharp drops in employment (Sayigh,
1997: 656). The divisions between Fateh and Hamas provoked a series of clashes; Arafat feared that
Hamas would leverage its influence in the territories at the expense of the PLO (Sayigh, 1997: 652)
potentially undermining any peaceable negotiations. Dissension emerged between Arafat and the „inside‟
Palestinians over the terms of a peace settlement (between 1991 and 1993), Arafat undermined the
Madrid Conference and secretly sought to deal directly with the Israelis in Oslo (Sayigh, 1997: 654–655).
Finally the Arab Gulf states support-declined precipitoU.S.ly when the PLO publicly supported the Iraqi
invasion of Kuwait in August 1990.
The cumulative effect of these events shaped the change in actions jeopardized the leadership authority of
Arafat and the PLO, as a result a dramatic change in policy from being neutral on militant initiatives to
strongly supporting diplomatic policies in their dealings with Israel as factions reached out to the United
States (Sayigh, 1997: 660). Arafat slashed budgets for welfare, PLO institutions, armed forces, and
diplomatic posts abroad. These policies revoked the social contract between the PLO and their traditional
constituencies in Lebanon, Jordan, Algeria, Yemen, and other Arab countries – constituencies that were
least likely to approve Arafat‟s 1993 Oslo policies. As Arafat effectively restructured the PLO‟s
institutions necessitating an „occupied territories first‟ policy (Groth, 1995: 75–76).
Managing Conflict 37
The immediate impact of the 1992 national election was not only unanticipated, but was considered a
major political turnover (Elazar & Sandler, 1995). The Intifada had indirectly affected the electoral
outcome largely as a result of heightening the public‟s sense of threat and perceptions that a strong
military presence was needed to respond to uprisings (Goldberg, Barzilai & Inbar, 1991; Arian, Shamir &
Ventura, 1992; Arian, 1996). In the long term, however, the uprising had a steady moderating influence
on the public‟s views about the future of the territories. The combined influence of shocks and power
brokers had a significant effect, increasing Israeli-to-Palestinian agreements both in the medium and long
term. The Gulf War reinforced Prime Minister Shamir‟s views that the Palestinians were hostile to Israel
and that peace was not possible (Aronoff, 1999: 31). The combined influence of shocks with third-party
pressure, from the U.S. on Shamir and reciprocity failed to elicit any change in Israeli agreements until
five years after the shock onsets has a profound influence on future Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin. Rabin
believed the Gulf War demonstrated that the Israeli population had little desire to incur more deaths in
future wars and that its willingness to emigrate in order to avoid such losses was a clear indication that a
de-escalation strategy was required (Aronoff, 1999: 32).
Both the Intifada and the Gulf War played a significant role in bringing Rabin to the realization that the
status quo in the territories was untenable (Aronoff, 1999; Bar-Siman-Tov, 1999). As past events shaped
Rabin‟s view that the Palestinian fundamentalists are uncompromising, he decisively acted to effect an
agreement via diplomatic channels as opposed to a long drawn out military conflict with heavy casualties
(Ben-Yehuda, 1997: 210). In the final analysis, Rabin reached the conclusion that there would not be a
solution to the conflict and an end to terrorism, nor would security be enhanced, without a long term
separation between Israel and a Palestinian entity side by side. The debilitating effects of a long
protracted conflict with the Palestinians might undermine the morale and resolve of the Israeli people
(Inbar, 1999: 152–162). Privately after the Oslo Accords were signed Rabin intimated the belief that the
Managing Conflict 38
security risks associated with a Palestinian state, although potentially destabilizing to both Israel and
Jordan was the best possible solution in the long term. This was a significant change in Israel‟s strategic
thinking (Makovsky, 1996: 124; Inbar, 1999: 161).
The cumulative affect from the Israeli invasion in Lebanon, the Intifada, and the Gulf War on the
Palestinians combined with the U.S.s third party pressure and reciprocity to result in substantive changes
in Palestinian agreements within five years of the onset of these transformative events. Similarly, the
Intifada and the Gulf War on the Israeli‟s coalesced with third-party pressure and reciprocity yielding
important improvements in Israeli agreements toward the Palestinians within five years. Political shocks
tell U.S. where and what the critical events will be and are; they delineate the moment at which decision
makers are more likely than at any other time to re-evaluate their expectations, strategies, and policies.
Prevailing beliefs often override the inclination of decision makers to pursue new, risky policies that
could undermine their positions. These study aides in intellectualizing the process and to better respond
to future crises.
Many Palestinians, especially those outside the occupied territories, denounced Arafat‟s efforts believing
he would become an Israeli agent to suppress Palestinian opposition and would not gain what the
Palestinians in the Diaspora needed. Those who rejected the Arafat‟s policies sought to undermine them
by acts of violence, often targeting Israeli citizens. The Jews of Israel and elsewhere generally supported
the agreement. Some Jews rejected Rabin‟s efforts for giving away too much and threatening to give up
even more. The 1995 assassination of Rabin and the suicide bombing of buses in Israel resulted in a
change of government in Israel. Benjamin Netanyahu was elected Prime Minister and a Likud-led
government coalition was formed in 1996, greatly slowing the peace process. Netanyahu took several
provocative actions, such as beginning construction of new homes for Israeli Jews in East Jerusalem and
Managing Conflict 39
withdrew Israeli military forces from most of Hebron. The peace process was renewed after the election
of Ehud Barak as Prime Minister in 1999. Tragically the Peace Accord reached just one year earlier
precipitated the assignation. Unfortunately this after shock resulted in a very high price to pay to further
Empirical research on the connection between realization of basic human rights and the outbreak of
armed conflict and war is sparse, several scholars have proposed that maintaining basic human rights
reduces tension and thus makes war less probable (see Falk 1980; Eide 1980). The content of human
rights is varioU.S.ly interpreted within different ideological and religious systems, and this is very much
the case in the Middle East. It may be premature to assess the after shocks of the U.S. military presence
in Afghanistan and Iraq. The strategic importance of Israel is more important today than ever as an ally in
the war on terror in this volatile region of the world.
The central feature of the Israeli – Palestinian conflict is over their claims to the same land. This struggle
is often regarded as an identity-based conflict. Indeed, the formulations of the collective identities
constructed by leaders of the two peoples and the high degree to which members of each nation share the
formulations contributed to the intractability of the conflict (Agnew, 1989). The concept of identity-
based conflicts generally refers to collective identities based on ethnic, religious, linguistic, or other
communal characteristics. Members and non-members often view these identities, alike as shared by
every member of the community. Such qualities tend to perpetuate the differences between communal
groups and to make combatants regard everyone in each group as engaged in the conflict.
Managing Conflict 40
Consequently, such collective identities may lead to particularly destructive conflicts. Every conflict has
a course of development: it emerges, escalates, de-escalates, and is settled; each phase may vary in length,
and a conflict can regress to a previous stage. The transformation of a protracted large-scale conflict
usually is the result of cumulative changes, often with some set backs and dramatic forward progress.
Conflict is intertwined with many other crises over time and social space; the Israeli–Palestinian conflict
is a culmination of crises from regional, ethnic, and religious communities. The changing salience of one
conflict may significantly affect the salience of the others conflicts. Each isolated conflict has its own
internal course of development; no one crisis is wholly independent of the others.
As the Israeli‟s clearly are the stronger party in this conflict, a strong mediator such as the U.S. can
balance inequalities for the Palestinians and help redefine a conflict by reducing its salience relative to
other conflicts in which the adversaries are engaged. A principal mediator with leverage, such as the U.S.
government, can exercise leverage and used a more directive mediating approaches to produce an
agreement more favorable to the PLO (Ashrawi, 1995).
The importance of the Middle East in international politics has been widely recognized (Fisher, 1971: 21-
22; Glubb, 1971). United States‟ interests in the area are immense and multifaceted. From the early work
of the missionaries and philanthropists in the nineteenth century to the present concern about oil and
geopolitics, United States involvements in the Middle East have greatly expanded in number and
complexity (DeNovo, 1963; American Enterprise Institute, 1968; Congressional Quarterly, 1977). Since
the end of World War II, the U.S. has emerged as a super power; Britain and France were both greatly
weakened by the war resulting in Europe‟s inability to protect Western interests in the Middle East. As a
result the U.S. aided in containing the Soviet advance there. Since the mid-1960s the Zionist movement
has been astonishingly successful in linking U.S. national interests to staunch support for the Jewish state.
Managing Conflict 41
The Zionists purport that the U.S. and Israeli interests are inseparable, successfully tying Judaism and
Both the Israelis and Palestinians have formulated goals based on ethno-nationalist thinking.
Furthermore, the identity of the people on each side is tied closely to the same land. For the PLO, the
goal of ending the Zionist intrusion gradually changed to become the establishment of an Arab Palestinian
state alongside Israel. These ethno-nationalist formulations were not inherent in the collective
identifications of Jews or of Arab Palestinians. They were constructed in the course of the conflict
between them and against other adversaries.
Added to this conflict is the high degree to which the Palestinian–Israeli conflict has been intertwined
with many other conflicts in the region and in the world affecting the crises; this was particularly evident
during the Cold War. The pervasive perception of most Arabs in the Middle East has also shaped internal
and external opinions; the current Anti-American sentiment from past U.S. Policies from the Nixon
Administration reinforces that belief. The massive American airlift of arms to Israel in 1973 and the large
Israeli aid bill of $2.2 billion proposed by President Nixon prompted the Arab oil embargo against the
U.S. After-the-fact-approval is realistic for the direction of governmental policy can be influenced by
mass policy preferences, yet the public is absolved from making difficult, complex evaluations of policy
impact; (Weissberg, 1976: 24).
A marked shift in U.S. policy regarding the Palestinian – Israeli conflict began during the Carter
administration. President Carter had a balanced approach regarding Israel and the entire Middle East.
The basis of his policies in this region viewed the entire Middle East region in efforts to resolve the Israeli
Managing Conflict 42
– Palestinian conflict. Any future success in the Middle East depends on viewing the conflict in the entire
The 1991 Gulf War aggravated Arabs‟ negative attitudes towards Americans as the U.S. removed the
Iraqi army from Kuwait after their invasion. The Iraqi Invasion of Kuwait ultimately precipitated The
Middle East Peace Process – Oslo Accords. Saudi Arabia, for a time provided important strategic access
to the Black Sea. This relationship with the Saudi‟s provided access for U.S. Military Ships and
favorable exports of oil and free trade. After the liberation of Kuwait, at the October 1991 Madrid Peace
Conference, then President H.W. Bush could not bring about a peaceable resolution to the Arab – Israeli
conflict, reinforcing prevailing opinions that the U.S. favors Israel and can not to be trusted. The
unpredictability of the region and other nation‟s who could assume the role of peacekeeper is suspect
given the advantage to the favorable cost and supply of oil exports. Perhaps the U.S. should neither
support Saudi royals, nor meddle in the country‟s political ecology by obstructing the forces of change to
ensure that the production and supply of oil are not endangered. Peace and stability in the region can best
be fostered through the promotion of a community of Middle Eastern countries brought together by
mutual bonds of cultural and economic interests.
The failure of the 1991 Middle East Peace Conference in Madrid, did lead to back channel negotiations,
utilizing a problem solving approach, yielding a signed agreement. It can be argued that better
communication between all parties with their stakeholders could have furthered the peace process. Yossi
Beilin (1999: 3) concluded that the Israeli officials engaged in the peace process should have worked
harder to explain to the public what they envisaged at the end of the process. Perhaps a more activist role
by the U.S. government, particularly in assisting the Palestinians to develop the territory under their
authority, would have helped sustain the implementation.
Managing Conflict 43
Mediation between members of the opposing sides at the sub-elite and the public at large levels can help
in preparing the adversaries for taking de-escalating steps, making agreements, and implementing them.
Non-official dialogue groups and other forms of people to- people exchanges are likely to be especially
important in such conflicts. In any event, many mediators using various methods helped the government
of Israel and the PLO to construct and agree on terms. The participants developed the idea of a joint
Declaration of Principles (DOP); envisaging free elections in the occupied territories and the gradual
establishment of Palestinian authority within borders to be determined later. The mutual recognition of
the PLO and the government of Israel was an important step on the path to peace and constituted an
irrevocable move towards a mutual accommodation. Symbolically the signing of the DOP and the
handshaking was perceived as a positive step forward towards peace. A growing number of Palestinians
began to feel that Israeli Jews recognize their existence as a people, and the Israeli Jews also feel that
there is hope that Palestinians at last will accept their Jewish State.
Conditions affecting Israelis and Palestinians would have to significantly change for any mediating
activity to be effective. Several changes occurred in Israeli–Palestinian relations prior to the transforming
Oslo process (Kriesberg, 1992). At the Middle East Peace Conference, held in Madrid in October 1991,
Israeli and Syrian officials met face-to-face, and Israeli officials met with Palestinians approved by the
PLO, albeit indirectly and within parameters set by Israel. The 1993 Israeli – Palestinian would not have
been reached if there were a lack the authority to lead or control their constituents.
Then President Bill Clinton mediated a U.S. team at the July 2000 Camp David II negotiations between
the Israeli and Palestinian delegations led by Barak and Arafat, respectively. In part the success of the
2000 Camp David Accord was due to having both parties take control over the process, certainly all
previous efforts contributed to the success of this accord as well.
Managing Conflict 44
Globalization does not just mean the elimination of barriers on trade, but on terror as well. The
communication revolution has blurred the boundaries between nations, peoples, and cultural ideologies.
We must not close our minds or our boarders to our neighbors and friends around the globe. Making
peace like war is complicated and the results are often unpredictable and risky. Communication is
complicated as it delves with mankind. Cultures and individuals have differencing ideologies, belief, and
goals using diverse methods. Achieving peace is messy and requires perseverance, thoughtfulness, and
good fortune. It requires a wide variety of appropriate and complementary actions by many kinds of
people to be effective. No single method of crisis resolution or of mediation is effective for every actor in
all circumstances. Different methods are appropriate as a conflict de-escalates, is transformed, and peace
is built. Identifying when a crisis arises is half the battle, finding methods to resolve these conflicts in a
timely manner, with durable long-term solutions is difficult, but prudent. Peace is never fully and finally
realized; it is not a static condition, but an ongoing process of evolving relations that must be nurtured and
Managing Conflict 45
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