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Some Determinants of the Oslo Breakthrough

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The breakthrough character of the Oslo agreement is attributed to the mutual recognition between the State of Israel and the PLO and the opening of direct negotiations between them. The parties were induced to go to Oslo and negotiate an agreement there by macro-level forces evolving over some time: Long-term changes, going back to the 1967 War, and short-term strategic and domestic-political considerations, resulting from the Gulf War and the end of the Cold War, created new interests that persuaded them of the necessity of negotiating a compromise; and unofficial interactions between the two sides over the course of two decades persuaded them of the possibility of doing so. Once the parties decided to negotiate, the micro-process provided by Oslo, with its peculiar mixture of track-one and track-two elements, contributed to the success of the negotiations. Key elements included secrecy, the setting, the status of the initial participants, the nature of the third party, and the nature of the mediation process. Finally, what made the accord viable were some of its main substantive features, including the exchange of letters of mutual recognition, the distinction between the interim and the final stage, and the territorial base and early empowerment of the Palestinian Authority.

Affiliations: 1: Department of Psychology, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA 02138, USA


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