ניסרין הגיעה במיוחד לכאן מרמאללה, ועושה את השנה בקיימברידג', בבוסטון, במסגרת לימודים לתואר שני ב-Cannedy School באוניברסיטת הרווארד. היא עשתה עבודה וחקרה את אופן ניהול המו"מ הפלסטיני עם ישראל עבור המשרד הפלסטיני לענייני מו"מ. היא עבדה לפני כן על תכנית כלכלית של הרשות, הקימה את המחלקה המשפטית, כמשפטנית, במשרד הנשיאות. ליוותה המו"מ הכלכלי לאחר פסגת קמפ-דיוויד ואת התיאום, במידה שהיה, בפינוי עזה. ואנחנו הזמנו אותה לכאן ושמחנו לשמוע על היענותה, כדי באמת שתוכל לחלוק איתנו את ממצאי עבודתה בדיוק על אופי ניהול המו"מ מהצד הפלסטיני. ניסרין בבקשה.
Mrs. Nisreen Haj-Ahmad:
Good afternoon, thank you for that introduction; I'll just say a couple of words before I start this presentation or sharing my opinion. My name is Nisreen Haj Ahmad and I came back to Palestine in 1994. In 1994 my father was one of the first people to return on a vice that had something like 32 Palestinians from abroad, I don't know if (1.53), we were all travelling back with Marwan Bargutti, Azmi Shaibi, Hana Naser and others, and I would say here to you, that that was one of the most beautiful days in my life because I saw how the glad and …(2.14) to return home and how celebrated we were, and how there was so much hope and festivities. And since then I came back and I started working in the public sector to support that hope. I spent 11 years, first in the Ministry of National Economic working on third agreements to promote Palestinian experts, and then working with the private sector to enhance the capacity to export, and then in the negotiations support unit to find a way to get those exports out of the country. I must say at the end of that pattern, I got extremely tired and frustrated, that in 2005, at the end of 2005, I quit my job after one evening of negotiations with Secretary Rice on the (3.19) Agreement. And since then before going to Cambridge I thought I should look back at that experience and figure out the reasons for such frustration, and as always there is a lot of analysis and many people look at the political side but I actually chose just to look at the negotiation management and the negotiations process, and I was commissioned by the Negotiation Affairs Department and the NSU to carry out this assessment for the Palestinians which I will not share here, but drawing on that experience, that piece of work I have come here today with five lessons for both of us for the Palestinians and the Israelis.
The five are, so I manage your expectations, the five are, one view and understanding of the negotiation process; two is negotiation structures; three is being mindful of implementation; four is public diplomacy which was much addressed just before I started, and five is third party room. I will not talk about the need for clarity of objective perhaps permanent status agreement and what is the objective of our negotiations, although it is extremely important, and I will not talk about systems to absorb the shock that may come in the coming year, or all of us being mindful to a setback or to a possibility of non-agreement although again that is very important. The disclaimer is what I may say is, what I say may be very obvious to all of you, so on the view of negotiations, in the form of the letter may be very small, but the point is looking back at the negotiation process, this is what happened from 1999 to 2001, and this is looking back at it. If you ask people at the time and I was involved at the time, everyone or almost everyone saw the process to be more of an event development process. While we were in the beginning everyone thought what Yasser Abu-Drabu and (not clear –5:51) was the thing that’s it, this is the event where we are going to complete the negotiations and then when Stockholm started people thought that event, the Stockholm event, was when we will finish the negotiations and find agreement, and then again, Camp David everyone thought this is the event, that’s going to lead to a conclusion otherwise we are a failure, and then we had Dr. Saaeb And Gilad Sher and Shlomo Ben Ami working and no one thought that this is relevant, the process has finished, and then Clinton parameters and Taba, the point I am trying to make is that there was a view to the negotiation process that was event driven, and it is important that we see this view now as a process driven, its true the coming year will have different milestones along the process but we here and the public I think to a great extent should remember and we should be mindful of the fact that it is an ongoing process with different milestones and not a single event is decisive or should have huge expectations, because that’s what the history of our experience and other experiences say.
I also look at this and draw two more, based on the view that it should be viewed as an ongoing process, the one, the first thing to draw is that each part of the process should build on the previous one and prepare for the next one, so summarizing discussions and ongoing plan of capitalizing on the past discussions is very useful and I think Ambassador Kurtzer mentioned that this morning.
The second one is that while we set basic structure for negotiations, that structure should take us through the coming year, there is no point in changing the negotiation structure at every point in time, whether its Annapolis now, I don't know what's the next event, or the next event, we should try both sides to have one structure while keeping it very flexible. In the past with every event we had a different structure set up, or absence of a structure at some points in time. Also on the view of negotiations I found from the research I did that its very important to give the other party the luxury of designing a process or the event in a process, so that there will be more honorship, more attribution association to the negotiation process and during the Gaza evacuation coordination that I was involved in, there were glimpse of doubt where giving the other side and not considering it a concession or a loss, giving the other side a chance to design the next milestone has advantages although in one side's opinion it is not the ultimate structure, it is not the best thing ever right, but there is an advantage that is more worthy I think.
The last point on this one is that while there is this big arrow on top, there is always maybe a more important process going down on the ground, on ground negotiation if you want to compare it or just to put it against table negotiations, and while negotiators often talk about it like settlement expansion, the road map implementation, I recommend that both sides jointly maybe carry out a monitoring exercise of the on-ground negotiations and be very mindful of it, not to blame and not to create conditions but to understand again where the public maybe, because I was talking about my grandmother, my grandmother does not watch newspaper news any more, but she does look outside the window at the settlement expansion.
So what am I saying, I'm saying to apply all this to the current process, that the process start where is it on the chart, who is in charge of what, are there three tracks or just two tracks, what were the stages set up so far, and what are stages that we are going to counter in the future, what about monitoring non-table negotiations, who is monitoring that, and the clearer we are among ourselves and with the public, the better situation we will be in, in the future, and in managing expectations, that’s the first lesson.
The second lesson is on negotiation structure. I looked back at the previous years, especially here, and I found that the roads within the negotiation structures were allocated in an inconsistent fashion sometimes, and sometimes in an ad hoc fashion, and when they were allocated sometimes the definition of the road wasn't very clear, so we had internal conflict or internal disputes that also create unnecessary tensions and to be more specific, I've listed the various roads that were allocated in the past and that should be I think, allocated in the future, and they are one lead negotiator, Yasser Abed-Rabo and Abu-Alla and the past experience and Muchamad Dachlan. coordination if you want to consider that, where the chief negotiators on our side, negotiation coordination office is the second point and on our side that was the NSU, head of the technical team I think is a significant position because without the head of the technical team you have a lot of technical staff, but they don't operate as a group, and they end up being drawn on by the negotiators creating some not very professional atmosphere within that team themselves, during those negotiations Dr. Samich al-Abed as at some point, and during the Gaza evacuation, Dr. Muhamad Samchury was the head of the technical team.
The fourth position is the legal advisor or legal advisors, five is media strategist and the media spokesperson or spokespersons, and these are two different drawers and they go into that detail, but not necessarily now. Six is diplomatic allocation strategist, so as not to confuse again the various roles, and seven is what you referred to the public diplomacy and strategy and I'll come to that again later in more detail.
While this is useful for the overall structure, it's also good to look at it at the committee's level, and where every committee has spokesperson or where every committee has its own coordination office, where every committee has its legal advisor and so forth. On the committees in the past we had something in the various parts or periods in the negotiations we had agenda steering committee they often call it, and then we had territorial issues and refuge and compensation, Jerusalem and security they were kind of fluid, sometimes they are in the territorial, sometimes they move out just for a little bit and come back again, but that’s what we had generally speaking. I think that the structure in the committees should be decided by the parties ahead of time in a very open fashion, there is no value in playing games and trying to be smart about this, the earlier its set the better, there may be some creativity on how it would look but generally speaking its clear.
There are some questions I put here that I think need to be answered by both sides, preferably jointly, and they may be very common to you, so I'll go through them quickly. The first is, is Jerusalem a separate committee, why is it and what should it be, or become a separate committee. Is security a separate committee and again why should it be and when will it become a separate committee during the process. Should security and borders be one? Should one committee handle settlements and borders? In the past we have differentiated between court issues and state to state, is this effective? Is water a court issues or state to state issue? Should distinction be made between political and technical issues, can the technical team negotiate and/or make arrangements on certain issues before even the political parties agree to certain key questions and what are they? And so on, the list of questions.
One I want to draw attention to, when I was working on this project I met with various people in this room to understand the Israeli structure, and I understood that at some point the Israeli structure had a day after committee where they look ahead, 20, 50 or 20-50 or whatever you want to call it and imagine how a sustainable peaceful solution looks like, and I think that it is more useful to have that committee as a comment joint committee.
A final point on negotiation structures that many negotiators on our side as well think that is logistics and we will deal with it later. The issue of administration and information sharing and from my experience while administration sometimes is a logistics issue, but its very consuming and it creates unnecessary tension and is better to be settled organized in one location, on the issue of information I think that there can be a depositary if you want to call it, or a location where enhanced system of sharing information is carried out, and we had that experience in the Gaza evacuation, not a very successful one, but it is I think very useful.
The third lesson is being mindful of implementation and here there are two main tracks of thinking, the first one is implementation committees that are established while the negotiations are taking place. In the previous negotiation experience we had what was called a steering committee, Motti I think was on it, I can't remember the exact title, but the steering committee was Dr. Saaeb and (not clear –17.23), were talking about further evacuations. And I recall that it was thought to be different, a separate committee, however, if you go back to that diagram, that separate committee that was different, was the committee that set up the expectations and managed the ground negotiations if you'd like, so I state the obvious by saying that they should be treated very cautiously and viewed as very linked and at this point in time there are other committees than the steering committee carrying out the negotiations with Dr. Salem Faad and the road map implementation and that may turn to be a critical point for mapping our understanding process.
Another way to consider implementation is the implementation of the agreement to come, and here one task of the negotiation teams is to explore the steps necessary for any effective implementation of any agreement and in order to prevent a gap between securing the agreement and the implementation of it.
Another thing to look at here is information and continuity. You have the negotiation team that doesn't continue into the implementation creating a gap in the understanding especially if the parties thought that they would be in creative with ambiguity, so I am saying that there needs to be a system where the negotiators or the technical teams or the members of the negotiating teams play a longer term role in the implementation. In the NSU, the team that worked on Rafah (19:17) and the crossing points have to, after the agreement was reached, had to actually go and work in Rafah (19:23) itself for a period of a month or two just to make sure that there is a seam transition or at least an understanding, especially if you have a setup an eternal setup for the negotiations where there is no central space or place for information, like a data base.
The last two points on implementation they are more of an invitation to you to think, I am not sure I have a final feeling, but I think it is worth considering, the first is that we can do a lot of things currently, we can start implementation today, if we choose to, without an agreement yet, and that implementation take different forms: one is to say OK, we need to enhance capacity, if we were to agree that there will be this sort of coordination in Jerusalem, are the buddies there are they ready, or if we were to agree that we will recognize your standards for trade, will you recognize ours for trade? Is there an institution in Palestine that checks standards, that is capable? Again on border, you can apply this question to many areas.
Another way to think of implementation now is to look at more operational issues I would say, so borders do we have to wait for the border solution to have a border demarcation or delineation committee? Do we have to wait for a final solution to think of how or to start some steps in the Old City? and there are areas maybe that we can actually start with some implementation now and it can have possible positive consequences especially in managing the public on both sides, Shpiegel may have left but we worked at some point on the border regime and the crossing points, do we have to wait until we know exactly where the line is, to agree to that. Is there an advantage to addressing this issue? And we can take it further. Moving on to the fourth lesson about public diplomacy.
I enjoyed the last session very much and I actually say that Halil Shkaky (21:56) helped me through this section the most, and I find it the most interesting, so three points here:
The first is: I hear that on both sides the view is that the public is to be given the final option to accept or reject an agreement in a consultative fashion, maybe a referendum. I think that that's a very risky approach, I don't even have to explain why. I hear sometimes that some people say eating sausages without choosing how they are made is easier, so wait for the final deal and that, the people will just accept, I find it too simplistic and not very attempting, metaphorically. I looked back on how it was carried out till now. From 1990 to 2001, both sides did not give enough attention or did not design enough structures to addresses of media and diplomatic outreach, or public opinion or public engagement. In 2004-2005, the Gaza Evacuation, I think on our side the model that was used was if compared to the past, a model to be learned from, and for us to take lessons from there, because Mohammad Dahlan (23:23) at the time did establish a committee for public support, the committee met with grass roots and organizers and devised numerous workshops and consultation. The coordinator also with Dr. Mohammad Samhury (23:40) created working groups with the public, scheduled a series of presentations who always pulled from one to the other trying to refuse to go but he always made sure that these presentations went ahead. In addition he also had view that this process should include in it, certain projects that create employment, or that create momentum. Now regardless of how the Gaza Evacuation turned out to be and the consequences, election and so on, I think the model itself has value, it would have more value if it was a joint arrangement and that’s where Dr. Shikuky (24:31) once told me to look at the Northern Ireland experience and I did and it does offer an interesting model where all parties joint forces in a project of almost two years where the pollsters and public opinion makers and the negotiators had one action plan almost and they executed it in different ways, and the objective was to explore the breadth of public opinion. (2), identify the normative as well as the actual opinion, (3) to effect public opinion, and (4) to generate text ideas for the negotiated outcome. So I think a model like that can be done on our side as well, it is not that difficult I would assume, but you never know.
The last point is public narrative, and this is something that I got exposed to during the last six months of education in Cambridge, and I think you alluded to it, it is important, besides or in addition to public opinion and the fact in public opinion to carry out an analysis of the narrative that rounds all of us, here in Israel and in Palestine, even broader if we can, and to look at the nature of the narrative, is it as you said, win the win, or some game? Is it a narrative of change or is it a narrative of continuity, on both sides? Is it a narrative of exclusion or inclusion for other Palestinians or other Israelis, there is a loss in the past, there is a loss now, and to some extent if you don't want to change the narrative, that terminology, some say there may be a loss in the future, but how do you introduce a narrative of redemption when you know that there maybe something viewed as a loss.
Again on public narrative, I am sure some of you have seen Obama at work, more recently, he does very hardly try to redefine the identity, or influence or intervene in the narrative of identity. So some say that public narrative goes even beyond introducing some change and tolerance to an identification of the values that define us the Palestinians of redemption, Palestinians of tolerance, Palestinian's of peace and so forth.
The last lesson is on third party role, and I here I looked more carefully at the Wilkinson experience, and it seemed to me that the Wilkinson and his team played six roles and they had three guiding principles, so I am just going to list them for now. the roles are: one, leading the process, he did lead the process of the meetings, the events, designed it, he saw it through with his team naturally; two, he facilitated between the discussions trying to clarify misunderstandings and so forth, he mediated with some proposals, maybe some solutions or creative solutions at times; three he provided expert opinion, there was some, I don't know if some of you know Dennis Levert and Richard, I am sure Ambassador Kurtzer knows about, because the U.S.A. also worked in providing maybe the best advisors and what's happened is that these advisors ended up being arbitrators in a way, while everyone refused arbitrators, but arbitrators based on know-how, based on knowledge, not based on the political stands; The fourth role was drafting proposals. I remember at some point when we presented, actually Shavitt, the Israeli lawyer presented an agreement of 12 pages, then we went and worked and we came back and we presented one with 22 pages, and then Bill Taylor, who was taking notes throughout the talks, presented their draft, a very simple draft, yet that captured all the discussions so far; The fifth role is the monitoring, I think that’s obvious, and while we all have different opinions on Raffah (29:42) I still think its worthwhile to look at the e-role and the way that was designed and draw lessons from there.
Finally, is enabling implementation, so there was underjob training, establishing implementation systems, and addressing certain financial means that I think can be looked at more, when we think about the Robbel, we think about the Rafah (30:04) and the border crossings.
The three principles or guiding stars that led, I don't know whether that was decided ahead of time or not, but one was neutrality, I think there was value in having envoys office in Jerusalem, with members of the teams from the French nationalities and Israeli on his team, a Palestinian on his team, I think there is value in having the envoy visit in Palestine and Israel in various locations and try and meet with the civil community, and the business sector. The second one is international support, the Quartet envoy with the strong backing of the United States, and access, and the last one is that at certain times of confusion what managed to lead both of us is international standards and legitimacy, the parties couldn't come up with another set of standards to the point of despair, they diverted to the international law for this sense of fairness, the example was the occupier's responsibility and restoring the land when it came to the settlements and the Robble (31:23).
So these are the lessons or some of the lessons I took from the experience and I hope they were useful. Thank you.