Evaluating track-two diplomacy in pre-negotiation: A comparative assessment of track-two initiatives on water and Jerusalem in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


International Relations


Robert A. Rubinstein


Diplomacy, Track-two initiatives, Water, Jerusalem, Israeli-Palestinian, Palestinian

Subject Categories

International Law | International Relations | Law | Political Science | Social and Behavioral Sciences


This dissertation furthers our understanding of "transfer" from track-two diplomacy to "macro-level" by evaluating four track-two initiatives undertaken with Israelis and Palestinians over the issues of water and Jerusalem using the comparative case study method. In each of the two issue areas, two track-two initiatives are examined. All of these initiatives took place at the pre-negotiation stage and involved mid-to-high level participants. The initiatives are examined for the following: (1) the relational (affect) and cognitive outcomes achieved in the track-two initiatives, (2) the strategies and mechanisms planned in order to transfer these relational and cognitive elements, and (3) the implementation and barriers to the implementation of the strategies for transfer.

The dissertation has discovered general trends across all track two initiatives as well as differences between the two issue areas. Findings suggest that both water and Jerusalem initiatives were successful in improving the overall relational climate as well as in instigating new learning among their participants, especially technical/professional skills and data (specifically for the Palestinians), new knowledge, and learning about the "other." However, when it comes to the transfer of these outcomes, both the Jerusalem and the water initiatives were more successful in transferring the cognitive outcomes, especially ideas, proposals, skills and data, to upwards level rather than the relational outcomes. The dissertation also found that the initiatives were more successful in impacting the processes rather than impacting the outcome at the upwards level. Both initiatives primarily employed "insider strategies" to that end. Yet, during the implementation of these strategies two conditions impeded upwards transfer: (1) asymmetry between the parties with respect to their degree of separation from the political circles and asymmetrical transfer of people from track two initiatives to negotiations and policymaking positions, and (2) participants' lack of representativeness of the typical members of the society and of the stakeholders that are able to influence the decision-making processes.

This dissertation has implications for two theoretical streams: (1) evaluation of track-two diplomacy and of transfer , and (2) the contact hypothesis theory.


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