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Keywords:

  • hierarchial states;
  • networked states;
  • goal-oriented negotiating cultures;
  • process-oriented negotiating cultures;
  • contract;
  • trust;
  • perceptional pluralism

In the various Arab-Israeli peace negotiations that have taken place since the late 1970s, each party entered the process, and continues to function within it, from the vantage point of different political expectations and cultural perceptions. These differences derive from the political features and social structures of the Arab parties and the Israeli side, which range from hierarchical to networked. Israel leans toward hierarchical order, whereas the Arab parties are more networked; these differences in the social and political environments influence the negotiating culture of each party. Hierarchical states develop goal-oriented negotiating cultures, whereas networked states have process-oriented negotiating cultures. The expectations that each side has of the other side to fulfill its part of the bargain are different as well; in hierarchical states such expectations are based on contracts, whereas in networked states such expectations are based on trust. Because it is unlikely that different cultural perceptions and the gap between the parties can be significantly bridged, it may be possible to cope with mutual problems if all parties were willing to accept a reality of perceptional pluralism (i.e., negotiating asymmetric arrangements, rather then each party insisting on mutual accommodation based on its own perspective).