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Failing to Seize Opportunities for Peace
Keywords: Protracted Conflict, Negotiations, Public Opinion, Israel, Palestine
Abstract: Citizens mired in protracted ethnonational conflict live in challenging conditions that include frequent escalations of hostility and violence. In reaction to escalations, citizens may either support or oppose negotiating with the adversary. One factor that might impact support for negotiation is whether the rival party offers concrete opportunities to negotiate in order to de-escalate the conflict. Given the high toll of the conflict, one would assume that publics will push their government to reciprocate and accept the offer. Nevertheless, during protracted conflicts, negotiation proposals are oftentimes met with opposition. Utilizing an experimental setup conducted in the context of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, we demonstrate that heuristic assumptions made as to whether the adversary’s actions derive from intrinsic or situational factors explain why opposition for negotiations might increase even further when the adversary offers to negotiate. Results shed light on the complexities of negotiating in prolonged ethnonational conflicts.