As I drove this morning to work, listening to Dianne Rehm show, I got drawn into the long standing Israeli-Palestinian peace process thinking. Like any other naive bystander who has a dozen suggestions, I offer mine here. The only difference being, these suggestions are not really mine, I have heard them time and again from some speakers, but to my surprise, these suggestions have not yet made into the staple part of the Israeli-Palestinian peace process discussions.
- Involving Jordan and Egypt: All Israeli-Palestinian peace discussions are usually focused naturally on Israel and Palestine. The difficulty with this approach is that these two sides are the farthest apart in terms of thinking and they can view each other as the other party in a zero sum game. The involvement of Jordan and Egypt changes that. The reason being that both of them have peace treaties with Israel, and they also have very good working relationships with Palestinians. They can play a natural mediary role, which other countries such as Saudi Arabia (or Syria and Iran) cannot. Jordan and Egypt also stand to gain the most in terms of tourism and trade if a stable middle east is established.
- Highlighting the inherent commonalities by focusing on human aspects: Norwegian negotiators have long attempted to focus on the common aspects by making the meetings a bit more than pure business meetings. One way that it has been achieved in the past is for all parties to bring full families into the business meetings. The rationale is a bit cheesy, but quite simple. We tend to stereotype people (such as John McCain being “hawkish”), but the same stereotype does not seem to make sense when you see the person holding a 4-yr old. This though is not just a bag of tricks, it is a deliberate and conscious effort to focus on the future and what is common, and not to be susceptible to stereotypes and memories of failure.