Prof. Herbert Kelman - Harvard University
DAY 1 - JUNE 18, 2001
Prof. Herbert Kelman talked about the key ideas in negotiating between the Palestinians and the Israelis before Oslo (1967 - 1993).
Up until 1967, the P-I conflict was subsumed under the "Arab-Israeli conflict." After 1967, there was a re-Palestinization of the conflict. The Palestinians took charge of their own struggle. Before that, the Arab League had taken charge (it created the PLO). For Israelis, the problem became internalized, due to the conquest of the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. Ben Gurion said that the occupation gave the Israelis a bargaining card. The Palestinians began focusing on the establishment of a Palestinian state. For many years, there were meetings between Israelis and Palestinians, and these were always very controversial. In the beginning, the meetings were between those who were more on the fringes of the political map. As time went on, the partners came more from the mainstream.
Since 1971, Kelman has organized workshops between Palestinians and
Israelis at the Mideast Seminar at Harvard. Sometimes these workshops
include advanced graduate students, at other times, they include mid-career
officials and leaders. Between 1990 - 1993, together with Rouhana, Prof.
Herbert Kelman led a three-year workshop.
Back in 1971, Kelman learned that in order to bring Palestinians and Israelis together, you need to pick people who are perceived as legitimate by their own parties. If you want to make any progress, you have to negotiate with mainstream people. This included then the PLO and loyal Zionists.
A certain degree of trust was developed during the workshops. The parties learned that there was "someone to talk to and something to talk about." Recognition of the other was seen as dangerous. But there is a need to recognize the other and this is very difficult to do. The reason for the difficulty: once there is political recognition, you may be jeopardizing your future survival.
During the 1980's, there was mutual recognition of the right to national identity and this lead to the 2-state solution to the conflict. Resolution 242 defined what is not Israel. From there evolved the idea of a Palestinian state. On the Israeli side, there were rising costs of the continued occupation. It became clearer that the Palestinians "won't go away." The Jordanian option was no longer viable. The 4 ideas set forth in the above table were accepted in the Oslo agreements.
In Kelman's opinion, the exchange of letters of mutual recognition was the most important step in the Oslo process. This exchange showed that each side recognizes the other's right to exist. Kelman does not believe that the leaders entered into the agreement with the intent of subverting it. However, each side had alternatives, if things did not work out.
In Camp David II, the Israelis and the Palestinians were using very different anchors when measuring the change that had taken place during the previous 7 years. The Israelis said: 'Once we were at X, and now we are at Y - we've made a lot of progress'. The Palestinians said: 'We want Z, and what they are offering does not come close to satisfying our needs'. This led to a breakdown in the talks and to disillusionment. Each side said 'there is no credible partner on the other side'. The Palestinians decided that they must continue on with their struggle, because the Israelis are not really serious. Force is the only language that the other side understands. Both sides retreated to their non-negotiation strategies.
Where do we go from here? The setbacks can be expected in a profound existential conflict. The setbacks do not mean that the process is over and has been proven to be false. Our task is to promote the relearning of the underlying assumptions and to relearn that the 2-state solution is still best for both sides. Commitment to a "principled peace", based on mutual rights and justice must be made. Leaders must articulate the value of the process, alongside the difficulty of going through it.
WWW = What went wrong? Three answers:
Israel was responsible for the collapse.
In the years 1991 - 1992, toward the end of the Intifada, there were many terrorist attacks and many factions - e.g. the PLO, the PFLP, Fatah factions, Habash etc. In 1948, there were 750,000 Palestinian refugees. Over 50% of the Palestinians became refugees in 1948.
In December 1988, Arafat declared that the Palestinians took a decision to move ahead on a 2-state solution, based on pre-June 1967 borders. The PLO was ready to compromise and to carry out the process.
Two important pillars of Oslo:
For the Palestinians, this meant that they were getting 22% of mandatory Israel.
Throughout the process, Israelis continued behaving toward the Palestinians as occupiers vis a vis the occupied. Every time there was a problem, Israelis went back to the old patterns. If there was a terrorist attack, Israelis went back to the strategy of closures. PM Netanyahu almost killed the agreement. However, when he went to Wye River, and signed an agreement, this legitimized the agreement. But closures, the expansion of settlements, and land confiscation continued. The process disintegrated.
When Barak was elected in 1999, he should have changed the feeling on the ground. He should have stopped building new settlements and confiscation of land. He actually continued Netanyahu's policies. He should have moved from a mentality of war to a mentality of peace. He should have boosted the water supply, released prisoners, etc. etc. Barak was sincere, but he didn't know how to do it. He did it wrong. He said that 242 would not be included in any document that he dictated: "We will finish off an agreement on 50%, 60%, 70%, etc " The Palestinians said 'if this is the peace that he promotes, then there is no peace'.
Barak's negotiations with the Syrians also jeopardized the I-P negotiations. In and of themselves, they were not wrong, but Barak did not know how to do it.
At Camp David, the Palestinians were not ready for "make or break it." Arafat knew that in July 2000, the Palestinians did not have a strong enough coalition to make the agreement stick. They were not yet ready to go there. At Taba, it was much closer.
Ben Gurion was ready to compromise on 45% of the land and was ready to accept that Jerusalem may not be the capital of Israel. He was ready to compromise for peace.
We can ask, to what extent are the interim agreements of the Oslo agreements responsible for the failure of the process? But this is an irrelevant question, because most of the agreements were not implemented. The end result of the agreement was left vague. The interim agreements were to help both sides mature before a final agreement could be discussed and achieved.
The economic relationship between the two sides was marginalized. In the summer of 1994, the Palestinians began feeling "short changed." Implementation became the job of the security institutions. There was very little establishment of civil institutions. Had we really implemented the institutionalized networks, would we have peace now? We can't answer that question, unfortunately.
Between 1994 - 1999, the per capita income of the Palestinians degenerated by 25%. In 1994, the US and other states and Israel set up donor institutions to bring back an increase in capital to the 1987 (pre-Intifada) level. The dividends of peace, for the Palestinians, were very negative.
Between 1993 - 2000, there was respite for the Israelis. The Intifada resumed because there was deterioration for the Palestinians. "We speak 2 contradictory languages. We have 2 different narratives." For Israel, the problem began in 1967. For the Palestinians, the idea of cooperation is difficult because it begins from the war of 1948. Issues were not discussed and moved forward. Each side remained entrenched in their prejudices.
Conventional Israel thinking:
The Palestinian perspective is different:
Perhaps the definition of the situation/conflict needs to be redefined. Perhaps we need an entire new platform. Perhaps we need a bi-national state. There is a de-legitimization of the political elite. We want a partition for the following reason: we are 2 people and each side deserves their rights.
Concerning the "right of return", reaching a package deal is important for peace. The governments can negotiate the mechanism for regulating the right of return, but this right resides with each individual. Each person has the right to decide if s/he wants to return or not. The package deal would not deny this human right, but regulate it.
DAY 2 - JUNE 19, 2001
The P-I conflict will not be resolved through force, but only through negotiations and peace. Military force is an obsolete way to solve a problem. The international community will not allow for this either.
Between 1993 - 2000, the Palestinians were not feeling a change. They didn't feel that there was a real move toward peace. The Palestinians were upset at the assassination of Rabin, because he was seen as the man who wanted to bring peace. Netanyahu and Barak failed to bring a suggestion that answered the Palestinians dreams, hopes and expectations. The settlements were expanded, and this was very depressing for the Palestinians.
People would say: Are we at peace? At war? It was too hard to know. People-to-people projects are good, but they have to be met with top-down strategies as well. The findings from the work done by the NGOs (non-governmental organizations) must reach the politicians. We must learn to look at others with respect. We must also change the reality of our life. The shooting becomes the norm. We seem to be creating "children of war" once again. The circle of people working in the peace movement is not growing, on either side. The Palestinians and the Israelis must try to find ways to reach people in the center, and perhaps on the right as well. There is also the problem of dissemination of the information.
We are now in the process of reinstating the hate. NGOs do not have critical evaluations of their work. And during this last Intifada, joint NGOs, such as PIES and FoeME fell apart. There is a great difficulty in maintaining personal contacts, but it is very important. It gives you energy to maintain hope during the hard times. And it's much more difficult to re-establish, once it is broken.
Leaders must build open channels with NGOs and with people on the ground concerning what is going on in the upper echelons.
Today, the Israelis are also jailing themselves. We are jailing ourselves and one another.
We have to begin talking among ourselves. The Israelis are not being honest with themselves. We do not address our fears, we accuse the Ps. This is a kind of projection. It is difficult for peacemakers and peace builders to talk to one another. Peacemakers are outcome oriented. They are accountable to their voters. In the short term, they have to show results. Peace builders are process oriented. The process takes much longer and is not accountable to voters. They are, however, accountable to their colleagues and to the people with whom they work and whose life they affect. They must show integrity in their work.
There is also a problem with the term "reconciliation". This term implies bringing back something that once was. Israelis this the case in the I-P conflict? This is not clear. "Forgiveness" is a Christian concept. It is less relevant, or very different, for the Jewish and Muslim traditions, which are closer to one another on this issue.
Peace builders do not yet have a good way of evaluating the process. Is it a good process or a bad one? We must learn how to measure our work in order to know if we are working in the right way.
Our conflict has 3 agendas:
(1) The Palestinians want their own state
(2) The J-Is want security
(3) The Palestinian-Israelis saw themselves as a bridge between the PLO and the Israelis. However, they were left out of the peace process. We must answer their concerns as well.
Real dialogue can occur when you let go of the victim and victimizer within yourself. However, what is left when you let go of these parts? You must learn how to move forward with what is left, and this is hard. Who do we want to be? If we want to be a Jewish majority, then we must give up the areas that have a P majority. Do we want to be a country with two peoples? In Israel/Palestine, we are 2 peoples who are mostly comprised of refugees. We must address the pain that is found within the people, in a symbolic, unified way. Without that, there will be no reconciliation.
The Palestinians and Israelis have changed the glasses through which they view their world, the ways they think, the outcome of the current breakdown. We now ask: What should be done to rebuild the process?
The Palestinians focus on the disintegration of the peace process. The Israeli focus on the Intifada. The 2 narratives of the 2 sides influence the way they plan their policy for the future. There are 3 paradigms concerning the collapse of the process:
(1) The process collapsed because there is a deep chasm between the sides. Diplomacy can't solve it. The continued conflict is inevitable. The most for which we can hope is a long-term truce. This paradigm is gaining in popularity.
(2) The failure of Camp David is temporary and technical. It is due to misconceptions, personality clashes, etc. Camp David showed significant progress. Very few people believe in this paradigm.
(3) The middle road - focuses on difficulties, failure will remain. This is because the process demands too much work on domestic political constraints. These constraints include:
(One) perceived lack of legitimacy of the Oslo process on both sides. The Islamists see the armed struggle as legitimate against the Israelis. They are against the PA and the PA leadership. Therefore, it is too difficult to fight the Islamists. The leadership does not want internal strife.
(Two) In 1996 - Peres lost the crucial elections and Netanyahu won, just when the interim agreement was to begin. Barak lost Shas and the support from the Russian parties before he got to Camp David. He came alone. Arafat also came alone, because he had lost support.
4 important issues:
(1) Control - since the Al Aqsa Intifada, the Palestinian institutions have ceased to function. It is important to keep any eye on the P civil situation. If the institutions collapse, so will the security institutions.
(2) Legitimacy - The PA institutions are losing their legitimacy in the eyes of the public.
(3) Survival - An Islamist government may emerge. Arafat is losing ground. Hamas has gained support. It now stands at 30% - which is double what it was a year ago.
(4) Threat perception - this is very high among the Palestinians, the highest ever. This has an impact on policy. If you can reduce the threat perception, then you will be able to change the policy. Today 70% of the people support violence, due to the threat perception.
Implications for policy: We can change paradigms, we can change the balance of power. The PA institutions can regain their legitimacy. This is what needs to be done:
(1) We need to increase the willingness to take risks in both P and I society - to achieve this we need to lower the threat perception.
(2) We need to increase the level of support for the peace process - to do this we need to restore confidence
(3) We need to help both sides make a full commitment to the process - to do this we need to restructure the framework for negotiations
To reduce the threat perception, we need a decrease in the violence and a stoppage on settlement construction.
To restore confidence, we need to go back to implement existing agreements. We need much more US backing for this.
To restructure the framework, we need outside monitors to insure that implementation is happening. We also need to find mechanisms for dealing with impasses.
For 25 years, I have had the same perception on the world and I knew that Oslo would be a failure. It is a political and intellectual failure. Oslo is the manifestation of the problem in Israel. We are perceived as emissaries of the West whose purpose is to insult the eastern traditions that have existed here for many years. The Oslo process was an attempt to impose a Western peace process on eastern traditions. Arafat, even though Clinton and Mubarak pressured him, will never give up on Jerusalem or on the right of return of the refugees.
What can explain the chemistry between Arafat and Fruman - one of the original settlers? Arafat is a religious man - the Wailing Wall is holy to him, as are the 10 commandments. He will never give up on Jerusalem. He and I understand this land belongs to God - not to us.
We need to establish a peace that will last only as long as the stay at Camp David or Wye River. We have to stop the bloodshed.
The reason that Fruman lives in Tekoa is because it is a holy site. It is the place of Amos the prophet, and Josephat. Rabbi Shimon Bar-Yochai lived there. This is why he lives there.
Fruman believes that we have to do away with the "lunacy" of the nation state. This kind of social structure has led to loss of million of lives, including the victims of the Holocaust. A new form must emerge, and should emerge here. We two small populations can serve as a laboratory and testimony for finding a solution of bringing the Muslim and Jewish worlds together. We can produce something good for this area.
The left is very narrow-minded. They believe that there is only one way to bring about a peace. There will never be an end to the war until we create interaction between the Israelis and the Palestinians.
There are 3 elements in negotiations - a vision, a plan and objectives. Arafat is to blame for the collapse of the peace process. The Oslo process had the best chance to succeed. The final talks brought us closer than we had ever been before to finding a solution. We want a permanent peace agreement. We need a political and physical separation. We need to guarantee I's vital interests. Barak added the idea that assests would not be given up without real concessions from the other side. The core problems between the 2 peoples will never change. The parameters, as set down by Clinton, will remain the same
Israel's core vital interests:
(One) Preserving Jewish Israeli connections to the holy sites.
(Two) 80% of the settlers in contiguous territory (not including Jerusalem)
(Three) Demilitarization of the P state
(Four) Israel will not carry the responsibility of the right of return of the refugees.
Israel is losing assets all along the way.
We must say no to an interim agreement and yes to phasing, gradual movement, with benchmarks, toward a permanent solution. Compromise is inescapable. We need a "package deal"; you cannot take apart the issues, since they are all interrelated. All matters must be negotiated simultaneously. We do not need a new framework - we need to get back to our framework, but this time, to really apply it.
Violence does not serve the Israeli side. It does serve the Palestinians.
What can we learn from the lessons of the past and present? All of the speakers, up to now, agree that the expectations are more modest now. We need crisis management and damage control. However, we also need a vision for the future. At the Madrid Conference, a number of tracks were established - a bi-lateral track, a multi-lateral track and working groups. Most of these working groups never met. We need to do some soul searching. The present framework is not working, and we cannot salvage it. We are at the end of an era. A whole generation of people, on both sides, is now asking for a new vision.
How do we reach a solution and get to a point that neither side would have any more claims. In order to get to this point, we must go back to 1948, not 1967. Up until now, there have not been internal discussions about the right of return and the meaning of "an open and unified Jerusalem." We cannot continue on in this manner. If we only concentrate on "damage control", there will be another outbreak of violence.
Perhaps the 2-state solution needs to be changed. Perhaps we need a bi-lateral state, with 2 peoples under one government. Or perhaps, a canton system, like in Switzerland.
The conflict has caused great regional economic problems. Israelis and Palestinians have trouble finding ways to work together to solve problems. For example, the Carni Industrial area and facilities is like the Iron Curtain. They use a "back to back" strategy. P trucks come to the border and must unload their cargo to be checked. This can days to a week. Then it is reloaded and sent to the Israeli side. This method is time consuming and expensive. It does not encourage investments. It is too costly and nobody is interested in investing in such a facility.
We need a new vision. Once we decide on this vision, then the other things will fall into place. "The region and the world is fed up with us."
I am willing to give up parts of historical Israel for peace. I am ready for compromise. Two problems with Oslo:
(One) it is a memorandum, and therefore, not a binding contract. There were 2 many issues left open.
(Two) Israel gave up strategic cards without a declaration of intention from the other side to compromise. At the end of the day, Israel will be left without any assets and without a peace agreement.
The discussion on the "right of return" showed that the Palestinians did not accept the 1947 partition. If the refugees can return, this will mean the end of the state of Israel. The Palestinian media shows very anti-Semitic propaganda. There is incitement on the P side. I ask: Are the Palestinians willing to accept the Israeli state?
History and geography have destined Palestinians and Israelis to live side by side. Both sides must adjust to reality. Otherwise, we will have endless pain, victims and killing. Each side is capable of seeing the reality through the other's eyes. There must be an adjustment of the different narratives.
The Palestinians did make compromises. They were prepared to adjust the borders. They were the only Arabs willing to adjust borders (not the Egyptians, not the Jordanians etc.). Oslo showed that there is a willingness to live in peace. This is the beginning premise. You cannot impose an agreement from the outside on the parties. Neither side will submit to that. There is no military solution to this conflict. Violence will not produce the outcomes that both sides want. On the P side, violence will not produce what they want from the Israelis and vice versa is also true. There are no unilateral solutions. "Let's erect a wall" will not work. Separation has to be done in both a formal and joint manner. There has to be a mutual character to the negotiations.
You cannot have one reality at the negotiations table and a different one on the ground. You cannot show hate and talk peace. This is true for both sides. If the Palestinians feel that Israelis can do whatever they want, their attitudes will not change.
You must create a context in which negotiations can take place.
You must promote good behaviors.
Between 1994 - 1996, the Palestinians talked about having a warm peace. But the security institutions dominated everything. A narrative = a psychology, a mindset, a prism through which you see reality. Therefore, the narratives of the sides must be adjusted. One of our mistakes was that we focused on the leaders, not on the people. There should have been more priority given to this. We need both top down and bottom up and a bridge between the two. The bottom-up approach is what worked in Northern Ireland. They convinced the leaders that a change must take place.
No negotiations work if one side gets everything that it wants and the other gets nothing. You give up desires and dreams, but you do not give up your needs. Camp David was a historical milestone. The Swedish back track talks in May 2000 broke taboos on discussion. There, borders and refugees, but not Jerusalem were discussed. At Camp David, Jerusalem was discussed in great detail. The people talked about law enforcement and municipal functions. Ideas were not presented on all of the core issues. Ideas concerning the issues of refugees and security issues were not discussed there. Between Camp David and December, there were 38 secret meetings between the sides.
In December 2000, Clinton proposed his ideas - a Palestinian state that would get all of Gaza + more (compensation from the Negev), almost all of the West Bank, East Jerusalem as its capital, an unlimited return of refugees to Palestine, but not to Israel. Arafat could not accept this offer. But Clinton's ideas did reflect the needs of both sides. The tragedy is that the premise died (there is a willingness to live in peace) and the opportunity passed by. We were doing the hard work for the Israelis and Palestinians instead of demanding that they do it themselves. This should have also told us that the 2 sides were not yet ready to sign.
There is a loss of faith. The Palestinians, after 7 years, saw that the Israelis still had the power and control. We are dealing with a subjective reality, not an objective one. Doing nothing is not a good solution either. It is dangerous. You must keep working to establish a realistic objective. We are not in a black-white world; it is not a permanent agreement or a total war.
Today I would work toward creating a political climate conducive to regaining faith. To get back to working toward peace.
How do you convince the Israelis that the Palestinians will not resort to violence? How do you convince the Palestinians that the Israelis will get out of their lives? People-to-people programs would help here. Focus practically on making the process credible again. Build a political context as well.
There are 3 main issues:
Both sides need hope for these processes.
What is the American role? Each side has to make the hard decision and show the other side that they mean it. The Americans can help, but they cannot do it alone. When there is violence, the As might have to be more prominent, in order to reduce the violence and broker a cease-fire. We also need to create a mechanism for accountability. We will go public if the sides are not doing what they said they would. If you want American involvement, then you must implement what you said that you would. Not implementing a disaster.
We were too sensitive to both sides' needs to keep everything private. That did not protect the process in the long run. We should ask instead: How can we de-sensitize the issues so that they do not need to be so private. By desensitizing issues, you begin to change narratives. I would have protected the sides less. We need more truth-telling in the process. There was more truth telling on the I side than there was on the P side.
Why did Arafat reject Clinton's proposal? Perhaps because in order to have accepted it, would have required too much of a change in his own self-definition. His life is the story of the conflict. Not having to deal with the hard issues for 3 years also made it harder and harder for him to deal with them at the end.
We had an idea that there might be a renewal of the violence. In early 2000, Ami Ayalon told us that the Palestinian street was seething. In May, the Tanzim shot at the IDF. As frustration grows, people will look for less rational reasons why things are not working. They will then hold on to and emphasize their religious beliefs, ideologies etc.
Just because you can do something does not mean that you should do it. Therefore, even though the Israelis can expand settlements, it does not mean that they should. To get the peace process going again, more secret contacts are now needed. However, after they get going, we need to be more honest with one another and less secretive. For example, both sides need to jointly decide and agree on a way for deciding what, how and when they will reveal something to the public.