The Negotiation Project

The Purpose and Structure of the Negotiations

This class is not about international politics. Even if you cannot find Israel or the West Bank on a map, you can participate in this class and its negotiations. The point of choosing the conflict between Palestinians and Israelis over land is to give you some feel for what it is like to negotiate between parties that have a real conflict. Your group and the class will help you get up to speed on the conflict and its parties. But the point is not to become experts in this conflict (which would take more than a single class entirely devoted to it) but is to give you some experience in negotiation. After you choose a client, you will find yourself in a group of 3-5 students whose first task will be to organize to find out all you can about your client and then to present this to the class. You will then be responsible for setting up a series of meetings and negotiations with other client groups outside of class. These meetings will culminate in an in-class negotiation among the groups that agree to be present. We will have 3 of these outside negotiation-->in-class negotiation sets during the term. Your grade in the class will be determined by your group's performance in the negotiations, your group's written analysis of each negotiation, and your individual journal and analysis.

Choosing a Client

Here are some of the parties/nationalities involved in the current negotiations over the West Bank. You will need to choose one of these as your "client." We will determine groups and client choice on Wednesday February 17. You will be representing your client in our negotiations for the rest of the term, and will be presenting information on your client to the class about two weeks after we choose clients.

We need to have groups of at least 3 people representing each client. This client list is not the only one. We will talk in class about others.


Palestinian Authority



United States



Your Relationship to Your Client

You should assume that you have been hired as an independent consultant by the client you choose. As a consultant, your task is to represent them in the negotiations we will have. To do this, you cannot merely take the "party line" and be done with it. You will need to know the historical and ideological background of your client. In addition, you will need to know your client's opposition and support, both domestic and foreign. You will also need to be familiar with the economic, political, and ideological factors that sway both your client and others.

Your job is not to make peace. You should base your decisions and strategy on your client's goals - political, ideological, economic, and personal. If your client is concerned about peace, you should be too--but not at the expense of other goals that your client has. If your client is concerned about justice, or about security, this is the issue that should be the uppermost in your strategy. This will require a balancing of interests: For example, on one hand looking strong while on the other not becoming overcommitted to rash action.

Thus, you will have to be familiar with both the strengths and weaknesses of your client's position, and will have to consider all the relevant options in a negotiation. You will have to make choices among your goals--considering not only the "local" negotiation, but the long term effects of any commitment you make. In addition, you may find your group will become split along factional lines, and thus your individual allegiance may be more to ideological purity than to your particular group. You may realign your loyalties at any time--but be aware of the effect this will have on your former comrades.

This will not be an easy job. Much of the negotiation background will be taken from daily events occurring in the conflict. This means that in addition to researching your client, you will need to keep up-to-date on what is happening daily. We will be talking often in class about current events. I hope that by the time we do our first negotiation, you will be comfortable in deciding what is a helpful strategy for your client. The reference librarians and I will help all we can. Please feel free to consult with me about any questions you have.

Making your Client Presentation

You will not have the time to research all your client's background and all that of the other players too. For that reason, you will soon be doing a presentation in class about your client--as will all the other groups. You should come to all these presentations and take copious notes.

In making your presentation, do not consider withholding information from your classmates. You can do this later, but to get started, we will need to trust the information coming from each other. It will make it easier to get the presentations done in the required amount of time if you make a handout detailing your presentation in an outline form. You will need to cover the following things about your client, particularly with reference to your client's interest in the West Bank:

As a group, you will need to be ready to answer questions from other group members during your presentation. You may, at that time, promise to get more information if you cannot answer the question.

Negotiating Outside of Class

In preparation for any particular negotiation session, you will have to plan with your group members outside of class time, and will certainly have meetings with other groups outside of class time. This additional planning should be reported to me in your group's journal, but need not be divulged to other class members until the debriefing after the final negotiation. You may "spy" on the meetings of other class members and engage in other dubious practices, but be certain not to break any federal, state, or local laws or St. Olaf regulations. Also, be aware that to the extent that you use dubious practices and are found out, you will not be trusted by the other members of the class.

Do not be deceived. The outside of class negotiations are really the main show. If you fail in this area, you will be certain to be blindsided on the day of the in class negotiation. Even if you start working the day we announce, your main problem will be to get other groups motivated to begin negotiation then. It will pick up dramatically in the few days before the deadline: be prepared to spend a great deal of time in meetings and interaction in these few days.

Negotiating in Class

Negotiations will be based on a scenario we will agree upon in advance. This scenario will itself be based on current events in the conflict. You will have time to consult with me, to look up information you need, and to consult with each other. Planning for these is essential. Arrangements for each negotiation may be a little different, but they will allow for your group to present their position, to make and take offers and counteroffers, and to summarize your position. It is possible on the day of negotiations to have two separate negotiations, a public signing ceremony, a joint press conference, an exchange of views, or to have no meeting at all. Your group may decide that it would be to its disadvantage to appear for a formal meeting, and you may decline to attend. You may want your group or a non-class member to come as an "observer" so you can get the straight story on what happened. Be aware that these are serious occasions, so you should dress appropriately (official business dress is usually the most appropriate). However, you must make certain to explain your decision to me in your analysis paper. If you are excluded from a negotiation we will talk about ways to make sure you get your "time" as a performer and a critique of your performance.

Grading your Negotiation

Most of your grade for the class comes from your reporting and analysis of the negotiations, but 15% of your grade comes directly from your performance in the negotiations. I will grade your performance in the negotiation based on your preparation, your presentation, and your response to (the inevitable) unforeseen occurrences. I will form my impression of these things based on my conversations and contacts with you and with other groups and on my reading of both your and other groups' journals.

Clearly, negotiation is a tough thing, and I assure you I will do my best to take circumstances into account in assigning grades for each negotiation. Your negotiation grade will be assigned to the group, but I reserve the right to move an individual grade up or down as much as one letter grade depending on my knowledge and the group ratings.

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The Negotiation Project
The Negotiation Documents
Levels of Analysis
The A paper
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