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Abstract

In this paper, I explore the prenegotiation process between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), which extended over eight months in 1993 and ended with the signing of the Declaration of Principles (DOP) in September of that year. During this period, the parties committed to recognize each other and conduct future negotiations with the aim of ending a century of conflict. The DOP was considered a significant breakthrough in Israeli-Palestinian relations. Scholars of Conflict Resolution typically view the discussions that led to the DOP as a positive example of how antagonists in ethno-national conflicts begin a course of constructive dialogue and conciliation. Applying prenegotiation theory, I question this assumption and argue that the prenegotiation process that took place between January and August 1993 leading the parties to commit to official negotiations and sign the DOP was in fact no more than a means of conflict management adjusting to contemporary circumstances. The research will uncover the factors that brought the leaders of both parties to consider negotiation and move towards accepting it as the best option at their disposal. I explore the functions that the prenegotiation performed and discuss how both parties failed to ensure that the necessary prenegotiation functions of the process were exhausted. Thus, my analysis indicates that the failure of the Oslo process, which began with the signing of the DOP, was inherent in the process's flawed basis.

Author Bio(s)

Amira Schiff is a Professor of Political Science. She teaches in the program on Conflict Management and Negotiation in Bar Ilan University and in the Evens Program in Mediation and Conflict Resolution in Tel Aviv University. She has written on various issues relating to conflict management and negotiation in the Israeli Palestinian Conflict, in the conflict in Cyprus, and in the conflict in Sri Lanka. Email: a_schiff@netvision.net.il

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