Project Case Study
Supporting peace negotiations in the Palestinian Territories
Improving use of international law and policy precedents by Palestinian officials in their peace negotiations
For just and lasting peace to be achieved between Palestine and Israel, Palestinians must have the capacity to develop and articulate negotiation positions based on international law and policy precedents which fairly represent the rights and interests of their citizens.
However the technical capacity of the Palestinian government to do so was recognised as weak and inadequate as negotiations approached in 1999.
Between 1998 and 2010, we established and managed a multi-donor Negotiation Support Project in Ramallah. The project was intended to enhance the capacity of Palestinian negotiators to develop policies based on international law, engage effectively in initiatives to reduce violence and return to full-scale negotiations with Israeli representatives. It comprised more than 25 permanent legal, policy and communications advisers in a negotiation support unit, and more than 50 external consultants who provided demand-driven assistance to fifteen Palestinian negotiators and ministries.
The Negotiation Support Project assisted Palestinian negotiators as they engaged in diplomatic initiatives such as the 2000 Camp David Negotiations, 2003 Roadmap for Peace, 2005 Israeli Disengagement from Gaza, and more recent Annapolis talks. Staff advised on a wide range of issues including borders, refugees, Jerusalem, settlements, security forces, water rights, economic relations, telecommunications, electricity, administration of justice and compensation. The project’s permanent advisers worked with Palestinian officials to develop negotiation strategies, positions and supporting analysis by carrying out research themselves as well as engaging leading international experts in relevant fields, including International Humanitarian Law. We also provided training in negotiation skills to senior and mid-level counterparts.
In parallel, the project increased Palestinian capacity to plan and carry out public communications towards Israeli and international audiences by developing strategies, messages, maps, materials, field tours and other tools, and supporting the day to day implementation of those strategies.
To maximise the sustainability of the project’s impact we paired local permanent staff with staff recruited from the Palestinian diaspora having worked in international law firms and research institutes. This local expertise continues to be available to Palestinian negotiators after management of the support unit was transferred to the Palestinian National Authority. A number of employees now work for different parts of the National Authority.
“The Adam Smith International team assembled at the support unit is performing an extremely professional job that receives admiration both here and abroad. [...] Adam Smith International have also shown great responsibility and skill in managing this multi-faceted project.”
Dr. Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen), President, Palestinian Authority