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Back Channel Negotiation

Secrecy in the Middle East Peace Process

Anthony Wanis-St. John

Publication Year: 2010

Wanis-St. John takes on the question of whether the complex and often perilous secret negotiations between principal parties prove to be instrumental paths to reconciliation or rather roadblocks that disrupt the process. Using the Palestinian-Israeli peace process as a framework, the author focuses on the uses and misuses of "back channel" negotiations. He discusses how top-level PLO and Israeli government officials have often resorted to secret negotiation channels even when there were designated, acknowledged negotiation teams already at work. Intense scrutiny by the media, pressure from constituents, and the reactions of the public all become severe constraints to the process, causing leaders to seek out such back channels. The impact of these secret talks within the peace process over time has largely been unexplored.

Published by: Syracuse University Press

Title Page, Copyright Page, Dedication Page

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pp. iii-v


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pp. vii

Tables and Figure

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pp. ix

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pp. xi-xii

Over the years, I have benefitted from support around the globe in my pursuit of knowledge of the Middle East peace process. Initial research support came from the Program on Negotiation at Harvard Law School. Years later, a postdoctoral fellowship was granted by the Palestinian-American Research Council. The Middle East peace process has passed through more than a decade and half of turbulence, and in that time I have progressively presented the cases and ideas...


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pp. xiii-xiv

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1. Analyzing the Palestinian-Israeli Peace Process

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pp. 1-22

Secrecy has long been a tool used by diplomats and politicians in their negotiations with adversaries. Perplexingly, secret negotiations can and often do take place in parallel with open and acknowledged “front channel” negotiations. Front channel negotiators meet with their counterparts and are often subject to intense scrutiny by the public, political parties, and media. However, different negotiators are sometimes sent to negotiate with their counterparts, but their...

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2. The Search for Peace in the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict, 1973 to 1991

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pp. 23-51

The search for peace in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict did not originate in Washington, Stockholm, or Geneva. Nor did it commence in the 1990s. It dates all the way to the conflict’s origins when Palestinian notables, officials of the Hashemite royal family (that was later to rule Jordan), and Zionist leaders attempted to find elusive common ground in the early years of the British Mandate in Palestine.

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3. The Madrid Peace Conference and the Washington Track, 1991 to 1993

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pp. 52-79

It took nearly forty-three years after the establishment of the state of Israel for Palestinian and Israeli negotiators to openly sit down to peace talks. The world watched as the Madrid Peace Conference was followed by a bilateral track of Palestinian-Israeli negotiations held mostly in Washington, D.C. Paradoxically, their efforts were soon eclipsed by PLO-Israel negotiations being conducted...

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4. Negotiations in the Oslo Channel, 1993

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pp. 80-130

The secret negotiations conducted in various places in Norway began modestly without any official involvement from the Israeli government. Collectively, these discussions have come to be known to interested observers as the “Oslo channel.” At their outset, there was little to suggest these talks would result in Israel and the PLO recognizing each other after thirty years of armed conflict. At first,...

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5. Negotiations During the Interim Phase, 1993 to 1998

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pp. 131-197

Following the signing ceremony held on September 13, 1993, Palestinians, Israelis, and other interested parties around the world began declaring their support, skepticism, or rejection of the newly revealed PLO-Israel peace process. Among the Palestinians, secular and religious nationalist movements aligned themselves either for or against the Oslo Accords and by extension, the Palestinian...

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6. Endgame or Endless Game? Permanent Status and Crisis Negotiations, 1999 to 2008

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pp. 198-260

By May 1999, the interim phase of the Palestinian-Israeli peace process was officially over. Both Interim and Permanent Status Agreements should have been reached, but only an Interim Agreement had been signed. The Interim Agreement, signed on September 28, 1995, should also have been completely implemented long before the end of this period. Instead, the Interim Agreement was...

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7. Back Channel Negotiation: Causes and Consequences

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pp. 261-295

This chapter synthesizes findings from a decade of research into the Palestinian-Israeli negotiations whose origins lie in the late 1980s and extends the analysis of the phenomenon of back channel negotiation.2 I set out to ascertain why back channel negotiations are used, what other negotiation variables they interact with, and what overall effect they can have on one of the most complex...


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pp. 299-329


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pp. 331-342


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pp. 343-352

E-ISBN-13: 9780815651079
E-ISBN-10: 0815651074
Print-ISBN-13: 9780815632757
Print-ISBN-10: 0815632754

Page Count: 360
Illustrations: 1 figure
Publication Year: 2010