Reframing and Resolving Conflict : Israeli-Palestinian Negotiations 1988-1998
Abstract: The mutual recognition between Israel and the PLO in 1993 signalled a major shift in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. This study examines, both theoretically and empirically, the basic question of how meaning of conflict may change and how conflict may be resolved. The broad aims are: first, to analyse and empirically improve knowledge of the transitional processes from conflicting interaction to cooperation in the Israeli-Palestinian case; and second, to develop conflict research by advancing theoretical ideas concerning these processes. Three analytical concepts constitute the core of the research problem: (i) meaning, (ii) reframing and (iii) resolving. These concepts are advanced throughout this study by an adaptive interplay between theoretical concepts and empirical analysis. The meaning of conflict highlights the dominant frames of political actors and the international and domestic normative and behavioural structures of conflict. The reframing of conflict is linked to negotiation by an emphasis on such concepts as turning point, motivation, opportunity and focal point. The resolving of conflict, which is the subject of the most extensive part of the study, focuses on frame, strategy, structural characteristics, and processes of negotiation. Drawing theoretical insights from constructivism, conflict research, negotiation theory and social psychology, the author advances a dynamic theoretical model, using an agent-structure approach. The single-case study of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict covers a period of eleven years, 1988-98. The author presents an in-depth analysis of the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations during this period, which constitutes one of the first major studies to cover the entire interim period. The empirical analysis centres on the implications of the intifada for the level of agent and structure, and the behavioural turning point, constituted by the 1991 Madrid Conference. The official negotiation process from 1991 to 1998 is then analysed and categorised in three phases: public diplomacy, two-track diplomacy, and trilateral diplomacy. The negotiation process was characterised by an oscillation between competitive and problem-solving frames of negotiation, a diversity of mediation and negotiation strategies, major structural restraints emanating from the domestic arenas, and various obstacles to communication. These phases of negotiation highlight the cyclical, transformative nature of conflict.
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