As the non-negotiations sputter, it becomes clear that we are stuck once again in an opaque process where each side attempts to apportion geography based on narrowly defined concepts of security and sovereignty Maybe it's time to try something different.
More than a decade ago, Israel was the first United Nations member to pass legislation adopting UN Security Council Resolution 1325, which calls for including women in all levels of policy-making and peace-building. Sadly, Israel has consistently refused to uphold its-own law by not including women in peace process negotiations.
Of course, Israel's current negotiating team is headed by a woman--Justice Minister Tzipi Livni. Although the government has been tight-lipped about the composition of the negotiating teams, we do know that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's personal emissary to the negotiations is not Liv-ni, but hard-nosed lawyer Yitzhak Molcho, who has been involved in failed processes in the past. In the current government, eight ministers are members of the diplomatic-security cabinet, and only one of them is a woman--again, Tzipi Livni.
Including women in negotiating teams is not "merely" an issue of women's rights. Extensive research reveals that bringing women into peace processes improves the chances of success. According to the U.S.-based Institute for Inclusive Security, women played a significant role in negotiating the Darfur peace agreement, raising previously neglected issues such as food security. Likewise, although only two women participated in the formal negotiations to end the 36-year war in Guatemala, these two were instrumental in including gender-sensitive proposals and thus promoting more support for the agreements. (And indeed, the Institute recently published a report on how inclusive security approaches could be applied to the Arab-Israeli peace process.)
Research from the nonpartisan Woodrow Wilson International Center at the Smithsonian Institution suggests that women in peace negotiations tend to act as public servants instead of combatants and that they use distinctive sets of social skills. Why is this? Some would argue that women negotiate differently because they are innately more peaceful and less aggressive than men. Thinking about modern women leaders, from Golda Meir to Margaret Thatcher (with many in between and since), I find this unpersuasive. I don't think that a womb is a substitute for a conscience or that estrogen inherently produces...