Getting to Yes: Negotiating 101 with Netanyahu and Obama (Part III)

You would think from some  editorial commentary, the bloviating of certain politicians, and defensive reactions in some quarters of the Jewish community that Obama and Netanyahu had a huge argument and that they were now going to have a trial separation. All the neighbors heard them fighting and now the yenta circuit has spread word all over town about the verbal explosion in the well-to-do white sandstone house down the street.  As I have suggested in two previous posts, this reaction is politically naive.

The words of Netanyahu and Obama did not diverge significantly on borders. The tone of Netanyahu was certainly more assertive than that of Obama, but the substance of what Netanyahu said did not differ substantially from what Obama and Israeli negotiators and diplomats have said for years. The 1967 borders will serve as  a baseline for negotiations, but the final borders will not be the same as the 1967 Green Line and the large settlements will remain part of Israel. Netanyahu and Obama agreed on that.

The difference in the language and style has to do with domestic considerations and negotiating strategy.

Netanyahu has to sound tough to appeal to his Likud base (although the majority of Israelis in recent polls did not agree with him on this). American presidents succeed when they take the role of statesmen, because Americans want the U.S. to lead in making the world a more peaceful place. In our national psyche, we see ourselves as having a mission to bring freedom and  success to other parts of the world.

As negotiators, Obama and Netanyahu are playing good cop and bad cop. This has occurred as long as there has been diplomacy. Negotiating in the Middle East is treacherous. Ehud Barak erred in 1999-2000 when he put all his cards on the table without having others in reserve. There is no way that Arab leaders will agree to a treaty unless it seems that they are sticking it to the Israelis and sucking them dry at the negotiating table. Any proposal that an Israel leader approves of at the outset is a dead proposal. No Palestinian would agree to it. At the same, Netanyahu cannot just abandon his base. However, when an American leader pushes him, he can say that he had to acquiesce on some matters, because of the importance of our friendship with the U.S. and because of the transformation that peace would bring to Israel.

This is a kabuki dance. It has always been like this, and it always be like this as long as we play the game of negotiations. What Netanyahu and Obama are doing is Negotiating Strategy 101–basic stuff. That doesn’t mean it will work, but it does provide a chance for peace.

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For Part I, see http://mysticscholar.org/2011/05/23/obama-and-1967

For Part II, see http://mysticscholar.org/2011/05/24/obama-and-1967-2/

See also the article by Rabbi H.D. Uriel Smith: http://mysticscholar.org/2011/06/06/critique-of-obama-and-1967/

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DR. LAURENCE H. KANT (LARRY KANT), MYSTIC SCHOLAR: Engaged Mysticism and Scholarship in the Pursuit of Wisdom; Discovering meaning in every issue and facet of life; Integrating scholarship, spirituality, mysticism, poetry, community, economics, and politics seamlessly. Historian of Religion: Ph.D., Yale University, 1993 (Department of Religious Studies); Exchange Scholar, Harvard University, Rabbinics, 1983-84; M.A., 1982, Yale, 1982 (Department of Religious Studies); M.T.S., Harvard Divinity School, 1981; B.A., Classics (Greek and Latin), Tufts University, 1978; Wayland High School (Wayland, MA), 1974. Served on the faculty of Cornell University (Ithaca, NY), York University (Toronto), and Lexington Theological Seminary (Lexington, KY). Works in many languages: Ancient Greek, Latin, Hebrew, Aramaic, Syriac, English, French, Italian, German, Modern Greek (some Dutch, Portuguese, Spanish). Holder of numerous honors and awards, including The Rome Prize in Classics (Prix de Rome) and Fellow of the American Academy of Rome.
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One Response to “Getting to Yes: Negotiating 101 with Netanyahu and Obama (Part III)”

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  1. Israel, Obama, 1967, and Obama | Mystic Scholar - [...] http://mysticscholar.org/2011/05/24/obama-and-1967-2/; 3) http://mysticscholar.org/2011/05/26/getting-to-yes-negotiating-101-with-netanyahu-and-obama/ Print PDF likebot_bgcolor = ''; likebot_url = 'http://mysticscholar.org/?p=5899'; [...]
  2. Obama and 1967: A Sympathetic Response (Part I) | Mystic Scholar - [...] Part II, go to http://mysticscholar.org/2011/05/24/obama-and-1967-2/ For Part III, go to http://mysticscholar.org/2011/05/26/getting-to-yes-negotiating-101-with-netanyahu-and-obama/ Print PDF likebot_bgcolor…
  3. Obama and 1967: A Sympathetic Response (Part II) | Mystic Scholar - [...] For Part I, go to http://mysticscholar.org/2011/05/23/obama-and-1967/ For Part III, go to http://mysticscholar.org/2011/05/26/getting-to-yes-negotiating-101-with-netanyahu-and-obama/ [...]
  4. Critique of Obama and 1967 by Rabbi Uriel Smith | Mystic Scholar - [...] Part III, go to http://mysticscholar.org/2011/05/26/getting-to-yes-negotiating-101-with-netanyahu-and-obama/ Print PDF likebot_bgcolor = ''; likebot_url = 'http://mysticscholar.org/?p=6062';…

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