Conflict Resolution and Peacemaking It is impossible for societies, factions, cultures, ethnicities, and genders to exist together in perfect harmony at all times. Issues and problems will create conflicts, if not outright wars. Although it is difficult to settle conflicts, it is worth trying to settle differences no matter how trivial or numerous they appear. Doing so promotes goodwill and peace among humankind. This essay examines at one such conflict and determines how successfully (or unsuccessfully) the attempts at peacemaking and resolution have been in this instance.
A Look at the Conflict The history concerning the Palestinian and Israeli conflict continues to be defined through a continuing cycle of accords, treaties, and agreements that subsequently dissolved. In Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) leader Yasser Arafat and by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu signed the Hebron agreement. Eventually, the agreement was dissolved. The failure occurred because of Israel’s continued construction and occupation of new settlements in what was considered Palestinian territory (Handelman & Pollak, 2007).
In August 1993, the Oslo accord both leaders signed the Oslo accord. It contained a 1999 deadline calling for peaceful resolution concerning remaining outstanding points, particulars, and issues. The approaching date of expiration loomed, and there were concerns the PLO would declare a unilateral, definitive state, which elicited new demands and violence from the Israelis, eventually resulting in the Oslo accord dissolution.
According to Handelman and Pollak (2007), “the Palestinians and Israelis were deadlocked in…a protracted, violent, drawn-out struggle in which generation after generation is socially conditioned to continue fighting” (p. 75). One method for resolving such a conflict requires implementing at the same time the political-elite model (PEM) of peacemaking that employs the social mechanism of equal-status contact, and the public-assembly model (PAM) of peacemaking, along with the conciliatory machinery of reciprocated and increasing initiatives to reduce tension (GRIT). Peacemaking Models
The Israeli-Palestinian conflict continues a generational cycle where the elements that benefit peace to the parties are discouraged and allowed to whither whereas hindrances that affect the processes of achieving peace continue to be strongly encouraged. To reverse such a detrimental cycle, it is necessary to create a mutually beneficial process that brings peace agreements and accords to a point that cannot be reversed (Handelman & Pollak, 2007). Such a beneficial agreement involves the inclusion of PAM and PEM for peacemaking. Peacemaking and the Political-elite Model
PEM involves a process of several phases of meetings. The intent is to promote different forms of informal, formal, and political meetings that eventually result in an accord or agreement of peace. The process begins with PEM, which involves a series of lower-level meetings, known as track II diplomatic discussions. These discussions center on a large variety of policy makers, public representatives, and party leaders. Israeli representatives and academics met on several occasions with representatives of the PLO prior to the beginning of the official negotiations of the Oslo accord.
The second set involves secret diplomatic talks between official leadership parties of the opposing sides to work through any inconsistencies in policy before the beginning of any formal, official negotiations. With the Oslo accord, leadership of the opposing parties began to meet for such negotiations in secret to clear any inconsistencies when they realized that a strong likelihood existed that a peace agreement or accord would result from the track II talks. The parties negotiated the reconciliation of all discrepancies, whether perceived or factual (Handelman, 2008).
The third, and final, step involves formal, official negotiations known as track I diplomacy talks. This step centers on formal, official negotiations between the political representative leadership of each concerned party. These formal, official talks are held with the intent to reach a peace accord or agreement. The Oslo peace accord achievement was formalized through such negotiations, resulting with a Declaration of Principles agreed to and endorsed by both political heads. The Oslo peace accord disintegrated and fell through in 1999.
This occurred in a large part because there was no preparation by either side to ready its society to exist in a reasonably peaceful process (Handelman, 2008). Peacemaking and the Public-Assembly Model To prepare a society’s members to accept a process of peace, PAM is employed to change misinformation, illogical doubts, and outdated ideas about the peace accord or agreement. This prepares citizens on either side of the agreement for the process of peace. PAM is not intended to reach or formulate a binding, legal agreement.
Instead, it seeks to answer and confront each side’s public perception concerning any pending process of peace. Multi-party delegates for a proposed negotiating assembly are chosen by one of three avenues: by the holding of general elections, by inviting delegates from the concerned parties, or by requesting delegates from different factions of society. The latter could include academics, businesspeople, and religious leaders. Such an assembly of multi-party representatives would negotiate and create principles acceptable to all to be used in talks for future, formal agreements.
By negotiating and creating such principles ahead of a formal assembly, society’s members can be better prepared to accept a peace process. Societies, biases, illogical doubts, and misinformation can be quieted and confronted ahead of time (Beilin, Haass, Kuttab, & Landau, 2011). The Social Mechanisms of PEM and PAM The social mechanisms of PEM and PAM center in the idea that conflict is a perceived inappropriateness of behaviors, actions, and objectives. Conflict does not have to be a win-lose situation.
It can be a neutral situation when cooperation occurs in place of competition (Myers, 2010). Although a peaceful resolution often seems illusive, it can be achieved. Peace is considered a situation in which there is a low level of violence and hostility that creates a relationship beneficial to all parties. Equal-status Contact Contact promotes liking and understanding because contact can predict an attitude of tolerance and behaviors typically follow attitudes. When communication occurs in proximity of hostile, opposing parties, prejudices, biases, and stereotypes tend to decrease.
When this idea is applied to the use of PAM, such contact becomes beneficial to all concerned and involved parties because of contacts prediction of tolerant behaviors and attitudes. However, if the contact is not supported by those in charge, is unequal, or is competitive it may be instead counterproductive. For this reason, PAM’s intent is not to result in an official agreement for peace because any principles that are agreed to by the multi-party negotiating assembly do not have the official support of either opposing party.
Track I negotiations are to be held and conducted officially because only representatives authorized by each concerned side have authority to sign any binding, formal peace agreement. When applying PEM and PAM, contact serves as an agent to mediate between concerned parties seeking to decrease ideas of prejudice and reduce counterproductivity (Beilin, Haass, Kuttab, & Landau, 2011). Graduated and Reciprocated Initiatives in Tension Reduction One process of conflict resolution that centers on reciprocal de-escalation is known as graduated and reciprocated initiatives in tension reduction (GRIT).
GRIT has a basis in a relatively simple idea: if one involved party gives in on a minor point after announcing intent of agreement and reconciliation, a social concept known as the norm of reciprocity mandates for any other involved party to reciprocate in agreement. The most effective use of GRIT is in a forum of public-assembly because changes in policy may not always result from negotiations. In such a public forum, opposing parties have some levity to give in on minor points without needing to concede officially. In doing so, intent of agreement and reconciliation is established that simultaneously enables the norm of reciprocity.
The goal of GRIT is to influence the final, official peace accord or agreement (Handelman, 2008). Conclusion The ongoing generational cycle of constant conflict among the Israelis and the Palestinians occurs because there is an absence of multi-party negotiating forums that would prepare citizens of either society for the process of peace. Because the biases, prejudices, stereotypes, pre-conceived notions, and hostilities of each party still firmly exist, enacting formal accords and agreements will remain counterproductive.
Employing the models of conflict resolution and peacemaking presented in this essay, the possibility exists to assemble representatives from each party who possess the same goals. This would develop and create a solid, viable foundation for future negotiations leading to a realization of an official, binding policy. Using such an approach, combining the mechanisms of GRIT and equal-status contact can create an environment conducive to contact’s positive effects and mitigate any negative effects of contact. This will permit unofficial processes to meet and promote mutual resolutions and reductions in tension.