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Hamas in levels I and II of the isaeli-palestinian conflict negotiations?

Enviado por boazmosquera

Partes: 1, 2

  1. Résumé
  2. Introduction
  3. Theoretical framwork
  4. Negotiation preliminaries of this case-study
  5. Oportunities and obstacles in the negotiation
  6. Strategy advice
  7. Conclusion
  8. References

"[B]ut if the enemy inclines towards peace, do thou (also) incline towards peace, and trust in Allah: for He is the one that heareth and knoweth (all things)" Sura 8 – Al-Anfal (Madina): Verse 61.


Le conflit Israélo-palestinien à été largement analyse de toutes les perspectives possibles avec plus ou moins de succès.   Dans les premières années de ce siècle,  la recherche d"une solution par la voie d"une médiation a été relancée et a été revisitée par les académiques, des praticiens et des politiciens.  Les Israéliens et les Palestiniens font partie du conflit mais ne sont pas les seules parties en cause.  Pour cette raison leurs perspectives sont importantes mais ne sont pas seules à prendre en cause.  Ce document est sans doute trop ambitieux mais il tente de résumer les points de vue en couvrant les niveaux I et II des négociations (Putman 1988) en ayant l"intervention d"un tiers… et en considérant l'intervention d'une tierce partie comme l'élément clé de ce conflit d"une nature à plusieurs de cercles concentriques.

Mots-clés. Négociations de niveaux I et II, BATNA (Best Alternative To a Negotiated Agreement) ou MESORE (MEilleure SOlution de Rechange), ZOPA (ZO de Possible Accord), opportunités, perception, obstacles, barrières, options, actions créatives, concessions, gouvernement unitaire.  Summary. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict has broadly been analyzed from all possible perspectives with much or less success. In the early part of 2000 decade, solution via mediation took new stamina and came to the minds of scholars, practitioners and politicians. Israelis and Palestinians are just a part of the conflict but not the only one. For this reason their perspectives are important, but not solely those to take into account. This paper fails for being too ambitious, but attempts to offset it through a synthesizing exercise trying to cover Level I and Level II negotiations (Putman 1988)[1] and having third-party intervention as the frontispiece of the way out of this "multi-ripples" conflict [2]

Keywords. Level I and Level II negotiations, BATNA (Best Alternative To a Negotiated Agreement), ZOPA (Zone of Possible Agreement), opportunities, perception, obstacles, barriers, options, creative actions, concessions, unity government.



Can the Palestinians successfully engage in negotiations with Israel and the International Community in order to conclude a final peace agreement without a "Palestinian reconciliation"? Current policy of isolating Hamas from the peace process has not help to make it happen. Israel cannot defeat Hamas armed groups, who easily blend into the ordinary population, as demonstrated in the 2008/2009 Israeli campaign, nor can the Palestinian Authority, led by Fatah. Therefore, the irrefutable facts lead us to think that Hamas has to be engaged in the peace negotiations, which requires said "reconciliation" with Fatah via negotiations between the two Palestinian factions in order to engage in a definitive peace negotiation with the non-Palestinian actors.

There is in negotiations an inextricable need for having the "domestic front" in agreement in order to provide the negotiators with the proper BATNA based on agreed upon common interests. Hamas and Fatah interests have to find common grounds before the Palestinians, as a whole, can have any chance to have a successful outcome of future negotiations with Israel and the International Community. The intervention of the International Community is also necessary in this "reconciliation."

How this can be achieved? What is the method to be followed? There are many theories presented over the years by specialized commentators and presented by politicians in different occasions and have in common that the involvement of the International Community, presented in this paper as the Quartet Plus, is a must for the resolution of the conflict. Putman offers in his two-level game theory a proper framework for many negotiations, that can find its applicability in the intractable Israeli-Palestinian conflict, i.e., in the form of a primary and necessary negotiations process between the Palestinian constituents [factions] for building up a common front and BATNA [Level II negotiations]; and a secondary process consisting in the bargaining between international negotiators that, eventually, should lead to a tentative agreement. This paper intends to present Putman"s theory applied to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict specially focusing on the role that Hamas can play in both levels and what the strategy advice should be.


Theoretical framwork

Putman, as a consequence of his observations in Europe and America, formulated that factions who are prone to a change find themselves in a cul-de-sac situation, like that of being outnumbered in parliament or not having control in a geographical area or commercial/trade market, welcome international pressure that becomes a sine qua non condition to make the shifts happen. On the other hand, Putman also noted that domestic "movements for change" were also a requirement to lead all actors to an agreement on a specific change. Therefore, he postulated a theory of "general equilibrium" that, in negotiations, would take into account the interaction of both domestic and international factors, intended to create a conceptual framework for understanding the interaction of diplomacy and domestic politics.

This relationship between domestic and international politics and how they affect negotiations has been discussed and theorized by scholars and presented by Putman: Rosenau"s "linkage politics;" Hass" European integration "spillover" that derive in to the study of new supranationalism followed by Nye and Kohane who deepen on interdependence and tranationalism; Allison"s "bureaucratic politics" and the intra-national games and international relations; etc. However, they were not successful in formulating that it is not the abstract "state," understood as the decision-makers, the individuals who run negotiations, "have a special role in mediating domestic and international pressures precisely because they are directly exposed to both spheres…[I]n short, we need to move beyond the mere observation that domestic factors influence international affairs and vice versa, and beyond simple catalogs of instances of such influence, to seek theories that integrate both spheres, accounting for the areas of entanglement between them" (Putman 1988).

On international conflict and cooperation Walton and Mckersie[3]developed their "behavioral theory of social negotiations" that points out that "the unitary-actor assumption is often radically misleading" (Putman 1988). For this reason Putman offers his theory of the two-level game, that cannot be disregarded by the key decision-makers, arguing that in international negotiations there are always two levels that correspond to: a) a national level with "domestic groups pursue their interests by pressuring the government to adopt favorable policies, and politicians seek power by constructing coalitions among those groups;" and b) an international level where "national governments seek to maximize their own ability to satisfy domestic pressures, while minimizing the adverse consequences of foreign developments." Be that as it may, Putman states that:

"The political complexities for the players in this two-level game are staggering. Any key player at the international table who is dissatisfied with the outcome may upset the game board, and conversely, any leader who fails to satisfy his fellow players at the domestic table risks being evicted from his seat. On occasion, however, clever players will spot a move on one board that will trigger realignments on other boards, enabling them to achieve otherwise unattainable objectives." (Putman 1988)

The two-level negotiation theory is analytically speaking formulated as follows: a) Level I, consisting in the "bargaining between the negotiators, leading to a tentative agreement"; and b) Level II, related to the "separate discussions within each group of constituents about whether to ratify the agreement" (Putman 1988).

It has to be noted that this theoretical approach of a two-level game does come with risks related to the fact that official commitments taken at Level I may find little credibility at Level II in spite of the high "reputational costs of reneging" (Putman 1988). In the case in point, this paper is oriented in the sense that Fatah and Hamas give themselves "negotiating room" at Level II in order to engage in Level I negotiations with a minimum chance of success.

On another note, this introduction wants to serve also to bring up all potential readers to the same level of understanding of an important concept that will be repeated over the text, BATNA (Best Alternative To a Negotiated Agreement). BATNA is a term coined in 1981 by Roger Fisher and William Ury (Fisher and al, 1991). We may say that BATNA is basically the negotiators" choice if you conclude the negotiations with the other party do not lead to a favorable result. Some commentators identify BATNA with the measure of the balance of power in a negotiation. This understood as a standard against which an agreement is measured and prevents from accepting unfavorable agreements that do not concur with best interests of the party that checks its BATNA and that, with this tool, being capable of appreciating a better option outside the negotiation.

Having a good control of one"s BATNA permits far greater flexibility and room for innovation during the negotiation process in lieu of a using a "bottom line"[4] negotiation approach that limits much the negotiator"s ability to benefit from the ongoing learning process that takes place during the negotiation sessions. Therefore, the better a negotiator's BATNA, the greater that negotiator's power, given the enticing alternative that the negotiator could abandon the process if an acceptable agreement is not reached.

Your BATNA will be stronger than the other"s if the latter need s you for reaching his/her objectives. However, it is very important to understand that BATNA is a dynamic element, an ongoing, changing tool of the negotiation that evolves along with the experience the parties gain over the negotiation process. This is true while the interests of the parties may find accommodation when they understand each other"s possibilities to fulfill the agreement. For this reason BATNA becomes a mechanism for deciding whether continue or not with a specific negotiation.

The more a negotiator knows about his BATNA and that of the other party, the better that negotiator is able to prepare for a specific negotiation.


Negotiation preliminaries of this case-study

Khalid Mishal[5]declared at a press conference in Cairo in 2006 that "Hamas has announced more than once…to establish a Palestinian state in the 1967 borders" and at the end of June 2006, Prime Minister in Gaza Ismail Haniyeh announced "Hamas" willingness, in principle, to sign a document drawn up by Palestinians from all factions, that they accept the existence of Israel". This should be understood as a willingness to have a Palestinian state and rule it. There are necessarily two goals to achieve before this end state arrives: a) Negotiate and reach a unity government with Fatah at the Palestinian Authority; and b) Negotiate a peace settlement with Israel[6]This supposes that Hamas will get rid of its "spoiler" label [and perspective]; as this is always the "greatest source of risk…who believe[s] that peace emerging from negotiations threaten their power...and interests" (Stedman 1997). Hamas does not have to change its interests but its positions incorporating creativeness to surmount the inherent complexity of the already Israeli-Palestinian conflict intractability character.

Hamas needs to change its perspective and narrative on the conflict vis-à-vis third-party intervention, use an approach that will bring communication to the parties and present options that can satisfy their interests. We might be in presence of a Hamas" culture on the meaning they give to mediatory roles[7]Along these lines, this section contains some "strategy "as the "pointing-finger" where [Fatah and] Hamas should head to a place where interests can meet and regroup in a common perspective and prospective.

In the "strategic calculations" (Crocker and al. 2007) Fatah and Hamas need to depart from competition[8]and head towards common grounds in form of compromise "to meet one another half way", where they will "make moves towards one another" (Saner 2008) finding cooperation bringing together their interests. Saner says that "the fewer interests the two sides have in common, the less cooperation will be an ingredient of their bargaining efforts". Therefore it is necessary to create value inventing options for mutual gain (Fisher and al, 1991), i.e., expanding the pie, the creation of the Palestinian state. Nevertheless, in spite of Hamas apparent denial for having a third-party intervening for building-up the Palestinian reconciliation, they know a "unity government" can expand the pie, which necessarily means a permanent agreement with Israel. This is not achievable from direct negotiations (Agha and Malley 2002). Fatah and Hamas need to negotiate their reconciliation [incorporating in their strategies third-party intervention], and in this process create the trust that will help build and eventually strengthen said "unity government".

The opportunities that Fatah and Hamas have to seek together are those that will create a common front, robust and realistic to be ready to engage in negotiations with Israel and others. Their BATNAs can only find common grounds when the parties overcome their perception of the existence of risks, for Fatah fears to lose its leadership in the Palestinian Authority (PA) and Hamas to lose its "democratic" legitimacy and actual power, won in the 2006 elections. Guarantees that those risks will not become actual realities may motivate them to accept a third-party in form of mediation but their common perception must be "as having an interest in achieving an "outcome acceptable" [emphasis added] to both sides and as being not so partial as to preclude such an achievement" (Touval and Zartman 2001). However mediation can unlikely happen if the prospect mediator does not see that Fatah and Hamas have decided "to reevaluate their policies" (Touval and Zartman 2001) to move trip wires (Fisher and al. 1991) of their BATNAs. The opportunity of forming a "unity government" brings along a perspective of creating values by "cultivating share interests" (Lax and Sebenius 1992) and avoids exclusion of any of the parties when in Level I negotiations with Israel and other actors of the international community. In Level II negotiations Fatah and Hamas have to look for a homogeneous strategy with "joint gains". What are then their "joint gains"? The answer is: A package of legitimacy within and outside Palestine that brings along recognition and aid.

Since December 1992 deportation to Southern Lebanon and contacts with Arafat, Hamas has "modeled itself on the PLO"s structure" which has portrayed Hamas as a "parallel and equal movement" to the PLO (Chehad 2007), confirmed by the 2006 elections. This actually means that both Palestinian movements are de facto legitimate political parties; this obliges Fatah to accept the reality of Hamas and to offer the integration in the PLO and full participation in the PA. On the other hand, Hamas is also obliged to recognize Fatah"s international legitimacy and the compromises taken with Israel and the international community on the way to a final peace settlement started in the early 1990s. The value is built on Hamas" need to be recognized internationally[9]and thus participate in the formation of the State of Palestine, which comes hand in hand with reconciliation with Fatah. On the other flip of the coin, Fatah needs legitimacy in Palestine and legitimize PA institutions, lost due to its galloping corruption practices and "particularism"[10].

In spite of the difficulty[11]of bringing Fatah and Hamas together paragraph above tries to highlight the opportunities of the parties and where their interests supplement each other taking into account the real Hamas leaders" secularism. Although this paper includes a pinch of speculation, it does not intend to be naïve. The goal is to frame Level II negotiations, permitting in the paragraphs below start developing the strategy for Level I negotiations [with Israel and others] building on Fatah and Hamas [difficult] reconciliation.


Oportunities and obstacles in the negotiation[12]

"In order to obtain the goal of returning to Palestine, all of us sometimes have to grit our teeth." Yasser Arafat

Opportunities. These fortunately exist. However, for successful negotiations among Israelis and Palestinians, opportunities should not be searched first or only among them but among the members of the international community; for the conflict is in a stalemate and is intractable. With this premise, we have to fish said opportunities in a sea of disenchantment, deception and mistrust that has come thick and stiff to pierce. A long-lasting peace settlement requires exogenous multidisciplinary help and intervention. Opportunities in accordance with Agha and Malley (2002) will come outside-in, but there is a change for opportunities coming outside-in. The dilemma of ripeness makes itself evident in this conflict that parties hear each other but do not listen to one another and then ripeness does not bloom but it is also difficult to have it pop up spontaneously. However, we cannot forget that "ripeness is a matter of perception and thus of persuasion" where "mediators have an important role to play in capitalizing on the parties" perception of ripeness" as long as it does not appear on its own (Zartman 2000). There is a long story in this conflict that has created generational and institutionalized perceptions, in form of narratives that the parties cannot change on their own.

A comparative analysis of the interests demonstrates that there are opportunities and grounds [remote but exists] for a possible agreement [or Zone of Possible Agreement/ZOPA], but it does not anticipate that the solution is close or easy. In spite of the simplicity of the charter below it does give us a quick reference where parties" interests may have some prospects in addressing the issue. In dark green, in Row 1, we see which interests will require less effort to reconcile: 1) Recognition (both parties want to be recognized); 5) Withdrawal (both parties consider the need of Israel Defense Forces (IDF) withdrawal and both would likely accept a multinational force to replace temporarily the IDF to assure a secure environment, interim IDF observation posts); 6) Type of Palestinian Army (Israel does want a demilitarized Palestinian state, Palestinians accept a Gendarmerie-type police); and 8) Territorial continuity (Innovative solutions have been already presented by international firms to maintain Palestinian territorial continuity and to not disrupt Israel"s activities on surface). The interests with yellow or red/yellow color show that do partially coincide or do not at all.


Row 2 is all light green boxes that show that all interests need to be worked out via Mediation: 1. Recognition needs a mediator that convinces reluctant members of the international community to support the process by recognizing both states in equal footing; 2. A solution to the 1967 borders "re-design" will not come up from the parties without aid; 3. The division of Jerusalem administration will also need in impartial mediator to deal with the Old City and East Jerusalem arrangements; 4 and 8. Donors stirred up by mediator need to be found and convinced to support Palestinian economic boosting and investment in state-building, nationbuilding and in infrastructures, the latter includes the territorial continuity solution; 5. A mediator has to offer the parties a temporary replacement to IDF after its withdrawal, an international force that has the support and credibility of the parties. A NATO-led force type like ISAF (Afghanistan) or KFOR (Kosovo) with a similar trusteeship-like United Nations mandate will need to be bought into by the parties with a mediator"s intervention; 6. A Palestinian security force should not be threatening Israel"s security and has to be credible and efficient for law enforcement, specially anti-terrorism; a Western trained Gendarmerie-like force needs to be built up with help from nations holding this type of police forces; 7. The refugees issue cannot even be discussed without the presence of mediators that count on full back up from their principals when offer the only possible solutions that mainly go for compensation, assimilation [and swap of land if settle in Israeli territory close to Palestinian territories] (Agha and Malley 2002).

Barriers. In the instant case exist all types of barriers, i.e., strategic and tactical, psychological and institutional/organizational/ structural (Arrow and al. 1995). Both parties are intransigent especially in the Row 1 yellow/red traffic lights of Figure 1. Israelis and Palestinians are also looking for justice, in this regard the Palestinian side has been more capable to present the injustice that suffers, "the refugee problem as such was seen as an issue of justice, and the rights of refugees to return was seen as the absolute core of the Palestinian problem" (Crocker and al. 2007). The Israeli-Palestinian conflict and its attempts of negotiation have also suffered from "reactive devaluation of compromises and concession," but not only when these came from the parties (Camp David 2000 or IDF"s withdrawal from Gaza 2005). Channels of information are damaged and the Palestinian Level II issue also fuels uncertainty in such [lack of] communication. Barriers of culture and ideology (Salacuse 2003) are of great concerned in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that necessarily have to be taken into account but only as an add-on to the negotiation process, while ideology, in the broader sense possible, poses more problems; for dealing with it, obliges to understand and manage it by both parties. At this point there is no other solution than to overcome it focusing on interests, looking for gaps between ideology and reality, structuring deals around ideological obstacles and keep confidentiality in the negotiations to avoid "ideological differences surface". This approach paves the road to deal making (Salacuse 2003). The series of Israeli-Palestinian negotiations have all used these tools to avoid failure in more or less amount, the question is: Why these theories do not work in the former British Mandate of Palestine? The answer is simple, firstly the conflict is of an intractable nature and this intractability needs to be broken, and secondly it is a need for more resources that should come not only from inside but mainly from the international community. We could call those resources a "cocktail of multidisciplinary solutions" in all tracks with third-party intervention having the objective of changing the conflict dynamics. But there is a key enabler that needs to be sustainable over the time, i.e., the firm commitment of the international community for peace in the former Mandate. These wisely combined in time and space may break current deadlock.

Options. These are linked to perceptions that in turn are, when irreconcilable, barriers for the negotiation. We can see a certain ZOPA looking at Row 1 in Figure 1 but as this figure shows in Row 2 -all squares colored in green mediation is required. Mediation is a remedy for stalemate and crisis situations (Touval and Zartman 2001). Neither Israelis nor Palestinians move, besides they communicate badly due to their narratives (Crocker and al. 2007), i.e., perceptions, and mistrust. Israelis and Palestinians think their BATNAs top the other party, for this reason the mediation in this conflict should carry a "powerful carrot" to satisfy interests colored in Row 1 in yellow and yellow/red. The "powerful carrot" should come in form of a sustainable commitment of the international community, in form of a Kosovo-like United Nations Security Council resolution – "trusteeship-like" , which would include not only the deployment in Palestine of a, possibly, NATO-led international force, like in Afghanistan, but also guarantees for a sustainable investment on state-building and nationbuilding activities to include holistic economic measures and infrastructure; the latter will also cover the Palestinian territorial continuity.

This would be a "package" to offer to the parties/that the parties offer themselves that actually meet their four competing interests to make then reconcile. This should trigger the consent for mediation that would also be of a specific style, as Holbrook"s[13]"mediator with muscle," but it will be more "Kolbian" or "Touval-Zartmanian" depending on the topic to be addressed. An important role for the mediator with the Palestinian, is that he would have to care the coalition, the "unity government" between Fatah and Hamas built up in the "A sui generis introduction" above to avoid the conflict increase in complexity or escalate.

Perceptions and BATNAs. The fact that some interests in Row 1 of Figure 1 roughly coincide, green color, does not mean that perceptions are automatically reconcilable; in fact these are in certain topics far away from each other. However, it is also true that Israelis and Palestinians have developed perceptions that in general terms dovetail one another like the two-state solution, 1967 borders, and Jerusalem as the capital of both states, these are "springboards". This time the traffic color in Figure 1 is not helpful as while they may be close in the specific interest, the perception on how to reach it may differ, for that reason BATNAs need to change (Fisher and al. 1991). In the latter the mediator has the role of testing the BATNAs, in the instant case we might say for all parties, "ripples" included. Notwithstanding that all interests are critical issues for the parties; refugees, if well approached, may start providing legitimacy to the process via mediation (Bercovitch 1997). The Palestinian side alternative is that refugees should have the right to go back to the Palestinian [former] territories, to be assimilated in the nations of "accueil" and to received compensation; this without creating in Israel the perception of having their security in peril to avoid that Israel"s alternative be the withdrawal from negotiations.


Strategy advice

Introduction. As it has been said above, the further Hamas moves away from its Islamic group inception and behavior the more chances it has to meet its interests to become a legitimate and recognized player in the resolution of the conflict. This requires creativeness. Notwithstanding the above, Hamas"s leaders will have to approach negotiations with Fatah with an "integrative bargaining" mentality (Saner 2008 ) and take courageous and risky decisions in Level I and II negotiations as well as maintaining confidentiality to the extreme to avoid ideological differences becoming insurmountable obstacles (Salacuse 2003).

Hamas Leaders" Creative Actions and Concessions (in Level II negotiations). Hamas wants to become a legitimate player in the conflict within and outside Palestine. Unequivocal Joint Decisions to be taken by Haniyeh and Mishal, who will re-accept the eighteen-point National Conciliation Document of the Prisoners[14]dated May 11 2006 (first version). This amounts to use [already developed] objective criteria (Fisher an al. 1991) that will help to deal with the internal Palestinian conflict mythology and set Fatah and Hamas relationship "on a political level" (Chehab 2007) for, with all Palestinian movements, this means: (1) accept the PA as "the only representative of the Palestinian people" (Chehab 2007); and (2) accept Arab summits decisions, which implies the recognition of all United Nations resolutions.

Their decisions will seek common standards to create a principled negotiation not only for Fatah but also for all Palestinian players. Therefore, they will abolish Hamas charter and join the 2003 third draft Constitution of the State of Palestine[15]and urge PA to apply it in all Palestine. Hamas leaders will permit the return and establishment of Fatah and other movements in Gaza Strip and require that the PA convene new elections in six months.

Before declaring the refusal of acceptance of funds other than those from legitimate international and Palestinian sources, they will require from Fatah share the control of funds, and participate in the PA budget and fiscal institutions. Hamas" proposal then will make Fatah change its BATNA as the alternative of not sharing is prejudicial for a "unity government", which Fatah desperately should seek due to the loss of support in Palestine.

Haniyeh and Mishal will make the idea of third-party intervention in Level II negotiations part of their BATNA, always retaining ownership of the process; in case direct negotiations with Fatah fail.

Hamas" leaders will convince all armed factions and declare a unilateral sin die "Hudna" (long-term ceasefire) and will stop all rhetorical of terrorism or Omar Abdel-Razeq-like statements[16]This will favor a joint Palestinian position with better instruments of persuasion to overcome Israel"s mistrust and will open lines of communications (Salacuse 2003). Hence, Hamas would then give more "togetherness" and eventually more "negotiation power" to the Palestinian delegation (Salacuse 2003). The latter understood as instruments of persuasion.

Palestinian leaders with these decisions should seek the "transformation of the Palestinian resistance from violence to nonviolent civil resistance" [this will also require a big transformation of the security systems (Chehab 2007)]. Hamas" decisions described above will provide the necessary "high level of mutual trust within the [Palestinian] confronting society…Attaining this level of internal trust is the primary challenge…requires emergence of leadership" that believes in the "efficacy of militant nonviolent resistance" (Crocker and al. 2007)

Palestinian Delegation"s Decisions with Hamas embedded (in Level I negotiations). The above changes will lead all parties to share their perception of "desirability of accord" (Haass 1992) and to Hamas to get into a path of moderation [concessions to match Fatah"s skills in dealing with international negotiations]. Hamas will give back the stolen nationalistic approach to the Palestinian cause and abandon the religious perception Hamas" secular leaders (see footnote 2 above) have given to the conflict. This will permit understanding that this is not a conflict that involves a clash of cultures but a divergence of "interests, opposing ideologies, competing ambitions, and historical antagonisms" (Bercovitch 1997) and as such the negotiations have to be framed in Level II.

Bassem Naim and Mahmoud al-Zahar will be appointed members of the Palestinian delegation as they hold power in Hamas for failures in negotiations do not only come from the strategy chosen but from the inappropriateness of the persons who applies it (Bercovitch 1997).

The Palestinian delegation will present Israel and the international community with a vision that an overnight solution will not take place as there is strong need of transformational measures in the "multi-ripples" of the conflict to change perceptions and expectations to eventually achieve a consolidated peace settlement [this will help to develop the Palestinian BATNA and the others" BATNA too and avoid developing alternatives that may mean separation of any of the parties from the negotiation rounds]. Palestinians will consent mediation to progressively reach consensus among the negotiators in three net-worked key enablers for a final peace:

Security: Palestine will promote and consent deployment of an international force; preferable led by NATO, in the Palestinian territories to monitor IDF withdrawal under a UN Security Council mandate; in parallel they will require a strong international investment, to train a Gendarmerie-type unit strong enough but not to be perceived as a menace by Israel. This will be formulated by the Quartet plus[17]mediator in form of an agreement covering resources and timeline for the above.

Economy. Palestine will permit mediation to take the form of Kolb"s mediator roles for its economic development. Deal maker to permit "multi-ripples" (all parties) agree to a five-year program for boosting Palestinian economy. Quartet plus mediator will orchestrate and guarantee that Palestine"s neighbors ease tariffs and costumes fees as well as access to roads, ports and airports and will facilitate a network of donors. This will be incorporated in a framework plan for heavy support in statebuilding activities and support, as required by Palestinians, in nationbuilding ones.

Refugees. Palestinians will be ready to incorporate in their BATNA the "best option…to live among people who share their habits, language...- that is among the current Arab citizens of Israel-" and include those areas in the "land swap [relates to interest 2 "Borders 1967" in Figure 1]…to end up as part of the new Palestinian state" (Agha and Malley 2002).



In mid-December 2010, Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay announced the initiative to recognize "free and independent" Palestine within 1967 borders. The Argentine Foreign Ministry said that this declaration was intended to help "definitively advance the negotiation process that will lead to the establishment of a just and lasting peace in the Middle East." While the need, for the Palestinian people and the International Community, of having an independent Palestinian state is not under question, it is necessary to point out that this type of attitude goes against the interim agreement signed by Israel and the Palestinian Authority in 1995, which consecrates to negotiations the status of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. This initiative was useful in 1988 when the Palestinian Declaration of Independence was adopted by the Palestinian National Council in Algiers, but since then a lot of water has gone under the bridge and it will be irresponsible, by the members of the International Community, to forget all what has happened at the different negotiation tables over the last 22 years. Be that as it may, the Argentine Foreign Ministry said that the statement was made to help "definitively advance the negotiation process that will lead to the establishment of a just and lasting peace in the Middle East," but international politics should be taken much more serious than that. Well-intentioned declarations may only help to stagnant even more the conflict, it that is possible yet. It has to be noted that the leaders of these countries have forgotten the maxim in international relations that states that shortcuts lead to future failures, i.e., in order to have a sound Palestinian state, negotiations with Israel and its neighbors is a must; but negotiations between Fatah and Hamas [Level II] have to come first, they are an a priori requirement for success in Level I.

Negotiations in intractable conflict environments last many years. This is the case of the present conflict, but it is also two-pronged, between Hamas and Fatah, and also between Israel and the Palestinian, which adds more complexity when trying to solve it. This unavoidable fact means that many decision makers and negotiators will be involved during the developing history of the attempts to solve the conflict and, as a consequence, many different ideas on how to solve it will be tried. Be that as it may, decision makers tend to grab the first option in hand when pressure increases; this is a natural impulse that makes them take shortcuts that lead to unanticipated delays, rush and wrong judgments that are deadly and can head off the negotiation process as a whole.

Hamas needs to regularize itself vis-à-vis not only Fatah but also with the International Community. Hamas is, among the actors of the conflict, the one of which requires the biggest change in attitude. However, it is not its interests what it is required to shift, but its positions, which, in turn, require visionary leaders who during Level II [ first] and Level II [later on] of negotiations are able to adapt their BATNA. Avoiding sitting at the table of negotiations impedes Hamas fulfilling its goals with respect to the Palestinian people as an alternative to Fatah, or simply as a legitimate supplement to [officially/internationally recognized] Palestinian politics. Therefore, no negotiation process equates to no learning experiences, which, in turn, leads to voluntarily renounce to gain a better position [to the parties] to model one"s BATNA or to abandon the negotiations table.

Putman"s two-level game approach is not presented to this intractable situation naively; the extreme characteristics of this conflict at Level I and II bring along uncertainty among the negotiators and unpredictable outcomes. However, the application of this model is a continuous reminder to Hamas and Fatah to give themselves "negotiating room," first, at Level II that will, in turn, permit them to jump into Level I negotiations with at least a chance for success. This is a proposal that would not have worked before June 2007 when Hamas was not an actor to count on in the conflict. However, no matter the model that may be applied since them, but it cannot disregard that Hamas should be part of the negotiations process. Nevertheless, this can only happen with a common Palestinian front that requires Hamas and Fatah to engage in sound and successful Level II negotiations.

This Palestinian attitude and decision should dovetail with the help provided by a Quartet Plus mediator [as representative of the International Community and legitimated by it], should turn into green all Row 1 boxes now in yellow or yellow/red in Figure 1 in a gradual process but "3 Capital Jerusalem."[18] Although the parties would have to seriously consider to include "3 Capital Jerusalem" in the solution package and have remarkable BATNAs, both at Level II and I.

In light of above, we can see that Hamas is nowadays the first deadlock to be approached by the International Community to turn it into a "partner for peace" and change perspectives to tow out the conflict from its intractability. Access to PA institutions and international legitimacy can permit Hamas taking the decisions to model its BATNA over the negotiations in Level II and, later on, in Level I and, consequently, become a reliable actor in both levels.

The strategic advice outlined above in section V is intended to highlight the fact that the conflict requires transformational measures to change perceptions and expectations to make BATNAs evolve. Mediation appears to be the tool that negotiators of all times cannot abandon, however the question is that of prioritization in this multi-pronged conflict, i.e., what elements need to be approached first. This paper highlights three of those and considers them as net-worked key enablers for a final peace: security, economy and refugees. These elements fit well with Putman"s theory of "general equilibrium" that, in negotiations, takes into account the interaction of both domestic and international factors. The goal is to create among the negotiators, mediator(s) are hereby included, a conceptual framework for understanding the interaction of diplomacy and domestic politics that lead them, as Putman puts it, to "spot a move on [the] board that will trigger realignments on other boards, enabling them to achieve otherwise unattainable objectives."

Boston (USA) and Mons (Belgium) January 2011


"Sanctions and negotiations can be very ineffective, and indeed foolish, unless the people you are talking with and negotiating with and trying to reach agreements with are people who can be trusted to keep their word."

Caspar Weinberger

"The significant problems we face cannot be solved at the same level of thinking we were at when we created them."Albert Einstein

"In business, you don't get what you deserve, you get what you negotiate."Chester L Karrass


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Arrow and al. 1995

Bercovitch 1997

Chehad 2007

Crocker and al. 2007

Putman 1988

Fisher and al, 1991

Haass 1992

Lax and Sebenius 1992

Salacuse 2003

Saner 2008

Stedman 1997

Touval and Zartman 2001


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Lax, David A. and Sebenius, James K., "Negotiating through an Agent" Journal of Conflict Resolution 35, no. 3 (September 1991): 474-493.

Lax, David A. and Sebenius, James K., "Designing Negotiations toward a New Regime: The Case of Global Warming" International Security 15, no. 4 (Spring 1991): 110-148.

Munoz Mosquera, Andres B., El derecho internacional y el conflicto árabe-israelí, Nijmegen, The Netherlands: Wolf Legal Publishers 2009 (first published in 1997).

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