Inclusivity Clauses: Getting Past Stalemate in Peacemaking


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Gilead Sher, attorney and former Israel’s chief negotiator, the head of the Center for Applied Negotiations at Tel Aviv University’s Institute for National Security Studies, discusses his new co-edited book Negotiating in Times of Conflict, which offers a panorama of perspectives on how to overcome obstacles in peace negotiations.

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This season of the Tel Aviv Review is made possible by The Van Leer Jerusalem Institute, which promotes humanistic, democratic, and liberal values in the social discourse in Israel.

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One comment on “Inclusivity Clauses: Getting Past Stalemate in Peacemaking

  1. Greg Pollock says:

    On whether final status or incrementally implemented agreements are preferable, I think the internal decisional apparatus of the parties crucial. An authoritarian regime can more easily engage in final status talks, simply jettisoning internal dissent, but a fractured democratic polity can find an opposition coalition growing as various groups object to various positions needed for final status. More, democratic forums allow minority positions to blow up talks by threatening to stall other aspects of governance. The problem is less severe under single party governance, but Israel clearly has not that. As it was, Oslo passed only via votes by Arab MKs; there was no absolute Knesset Jewish MK majority support for the plan.

    Spoilers will exist under either final status or incremental agreements. And, just as democratic spoilers seek to damage the standing of negotiators, so too do terrorists. Terrorism, especially the suicidal form, is directed as much if not more to other parties in the avowed national or religious group as to the purported enemy, seeking to illicit an aggressive response by that enemy which harms the terror group’s national/religious opponents. Terrorism is a form of evolutionary spite: it seeks to harm its “homeland” rivals more than it itself will be harmed by the opponent’s backlash, thereby shifting relative standings in the homeland. When large militaries intervene after a terrorist event, they are often doing exactly what the terrorists expect. Structurally, this can be little different than a small party in a legislature refusing support to watch the existing government fall; at the end of that day, the small party is likely to remain as it was while it leading rivals are weaker. In the case of terrorism, this places the major power victim of terror in a dilemma: if it does not respond, it appears weak; if it responds either too forcefully or with too broad a scythe, the net result may be, in their homeland, stronger support, materially and popularly, for the terrorist group. And this kind of support is not channeled by democratic governance: one does not have to win a seat in a ruling coalition to have material support for violence come one’s way. The terrorist group can thus employ spite more effectively than the democratic party dissenter.

    (I add that suicidal terrorists are not a different creature than ourselves. Our entertainments are replete with episodes of suicidal altruists attacking the enemy for the good of the group. We differentiate these through the context of total war, where the suicidal altruist harms only “combatants,” but this is hardly always the case; indeed “total war” largely erases the distinction between civilian and combatant. There are innocents everywhere; but ordering aerial bombing in itself makes the distinction difficult to maintain on the lived ground, this one of the ongoing tragedies of Afghanistan.)

    I have argued elsewhere that fully implemented incrementalism toward a confederation is the only plausible way forward; each step should be a plausible rest point, not unstable alone. Regardless, I’d say that any implementation must have attached a clear procedure for responding to violence, both terrorist and crowd, for both will undoubtedly occur, as such are clearly in our culturally evolved repertoire. Peace is not about choosing sides over who makes the better human. That’s what war does. So have war negotiations. Oh–right–that’s what you’ve got now.

    Continue to be amazed by the high quality of interviews and subjects on this podcast.

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