INSPIRATIONAL, 4 Sep 2017
The key to successful negotiations is to find creative solutions that give all parties what is most important to them.
For example, during the talks between Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin and Egyptian President Anwar Sadat, hosted by President Carter at Camp David near Washington in 1978, agreement on most issues was reached. But an impasse appeared when Egypt demanded return of the whole Sinai territory that Israel had occupied, a demand that Israel adamantly refused.
Looking at the underlying reasons instead of only the stated positions, it was possible to find a mutually acceptable solution: Egypt was in fact most concerned about its sovereignty; after centuries of humiliation through colonial powers, it was unwilling to give up any of its territory. Israel’s main concern was its security: Given its small size, it did not want Egyptian tanks directly on its border.
By formally making the whole Sinai Egyptian territory, with the Egyptian flag everywhere, but with a buffer zone along the Israeli border where UN peacekeepers were stationed, both governments could be satisfied simultaneously, and an agreement was reached.
Dietrich Fischer (1941-2015) from Münsingen, Switzerland, got a Licentiate in Mathematics from the University of Bern 1968 and his Ph.D. in Computer Science from New York University 1976. 1986-88 he was a MacArthur Fellow in International Peace and Security at Princeton University. He has taught mathematics, computer science, economics and peace studies at various universities and been a consultant to the United Nations. He was co-founder, with Johan Galtung, of the TRANSCEND Network for Peace, Development and Environment in 1993.
This article originally appeared on Transcend Media Service (TMS) on 4 Sep 2017.
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