The decisions to negotiate in the South African and Israeli/Palestinian conflicts can be understood in terms of changed perceptions of threat among political elites and their constituents. As perceptions of an imminent threat to national survival receded, debate over national security policy became a focus of internal politics on the government sides in each case and prompted changes of leadership. The new leaders, F.W. de Klerk and Yitzhak Rabin, faced emerging threats at the national and international levels that made negotiation seem advantageous. Lieberfeld analyzes the decisions of the opposition ANC and PLO in terms of changing threat perceptions and incentives for compromise.
Lieberfeld also evaluates developments since the breakthrough agreements. He concludes by identifying revised indicators of conflicts' ripeness for negotiated settlement and discussing their applicability to other cases of intense, protracted conflict.
About the Author:
DANIEL LIEBERFELD has taught at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, the University of Missouri-St. Louis, and Bowdoin College. His articles have appeared in Negotiation Journal, Middle East Policy, The American Scholar, and other journals.