Waging Peace: Peace Negotiations: What Works and What Doesn't

Article excerpt

Amid rumors that the Obama administration would soon move forward toward a comprehensive Israeli-Arab peace agreement, Middle East Institute adjunct scholars Ilan Peleg and Paul Scham analyzed the possibilities for success at a Sept. 11 lunchtime event in Washington, DC. Peleg, a professor at Lafayette College, serves as editor-in-chief of the Israel Studies Forum. Scham is a visiting professor of Israel Studies at the University of Maryland, College Park.

The two examined past negotiations to determine what has worked and what has not, both in format and substance, including both American-assisted meetings and others. Having set up a typology of 10 factors which have been crucial to previous negotiations, Peleg and Scham measured the situation today against those factors to determine the likelihood of success or failure.

Factors for a diplomatic breakthrough exist if the parties are ready to deal, Peleg said-otherwise there is little chance for progress. Parties are ready to talk if there is a "distress factor"-for instance, there may be an outside player like Iran, or a "trauma factor," like the bloody Yom Kipper war in 1973, or the first intifada. It also helps to have an authoritative leadership on both sides-first to negotiate, then to sell the agreement to constituents, and finally to implement the agreement.

International support, especially from Arab countries, is also critical, Peleg said. Heavy American participation is required, not just as a spectator but as a participant, and presidential involvement is crucial. …