Lessons from the OneVoice Grassroots Process for the Political Leaders and Those Who Want Their Success

Nov 26, 2007 Published under Middle East, Mideast Negotiations, OneVoice Movement

As for the last 6 years OneVoice citizens, scholars, dignitaries and civic and religious leaders have engaged in the broadest process for conflict resolution among citizens, several lessons have become apparent that are instructive:

· Politicians need to say what needs to be said, to acknowledge both sides, to not just say what their constituents want to hear but what their constituents need to hear;

· The era of “constructive ambiguity” should be banished and replaced by a concrete and explicit outline of the deep interests and needs of each side and movement to forge a clear historic compromise; the more explicit the better because otherwise each side will sell its version of the agreement and fissures will come out;

· It is imperative for the leaders to find a way, if not in Annapolis then soon thereafter, where they SPEAK AS ONEVOICE, when the Palestinian and Israeli leadership can speak about BOTH SIDES’ needs and perspectives, to acknowledge the reality of a neighbor on the other side, to educate and prepare the public for a deal;

· Focused, sustained and ongoing effort is necessary to deepen the understanding and to establish trust; Professional Dedicated Full Time Negotiation Teams that put the National Interest above personality or vanity or partisan politics are imperative to make progress;

· A Third Party Mediator is ABSOLUTELY NECESSARY or else the parties will hang on to positions and endless Mideast bargaining; it is important to keep bringing back the parties to understand their INTERESTS and not just stick to fixed POSITIONS;

· These things take a lot of time; sometimes negotiations will get stuck on one word or one phrase, for hours or days; a systematic process needs to be followed to keep making progress and not circulate around and revisit issues aimlessly;

· Confidence Building Measures and tangible progress on the ground are important to keep the momentum going and to ensure the support from the people, as they see benefits to the peace process.

  • Tony Blair’s efforts to create jobs for the Palestinian people are vital
  • President Abbas’s commitment to dismantle underground militias AND to establish the rule of law are vital
  • Prime Minister Olmert’s commitment to dismantle unauthorized settlements AND to freeze further settlement construction are vital;
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