"Will"

This concept refers to the readiness of a political entity to take part in a political act in a particular context.

Definition

The concept of "Will" refers to the readiness of a political entity to take part in a political act in a particular context.

Background

The issues of whether Israel has a Partner and under what conditions Israel should negotiate with the Palestinians have been recurring themes in Israeli-Palestinian relations.

Factual input about Palestinian statements, decisions or actions provide insufficient value to Israeli decision-makers when they consider whether to engage the other party through negotiations in an Across-the-Table Strategy, as opposed to pursuing an Off-the-Table Strategy.

The Re'ut Institute offers a set of concepts and analysis that aspires to provide Israeli decision-makers with a conceptual framework in this regard (See the document: Model of Israeli-Palestinian Partnership).

Objective, Time Frame and Identity of Interlocutor

The concept of Will is contextual. It can only be examined against the background of the objective and time frame of the policy that is being considered taking into account the following:

  • Objective – What is the objective of the policy? For example, the Palestinian side may have the Will to engage Israel for an interim agreement but not for a Permanent Status Agreement.
  • Time Frame – What is the time frame of the policy? The degree of Will may be impacted by the duration of planning, decision-making and implementation. For example, a political process which may last more than one political tenure offers different incentives than a political process which will be exhausted before the next elections.
  • Identity of the Interlocutor – Different political entities have different constituencies, responsibilities and interests. Particularly in the Palestinian case, the identity of the interlocutor – the PLO or the Palestinian Authority – may impact the parties' Will.

Components of Will

The underlying assumption here is that a party is rational "in the sense that it is aware of its alternatives, forms expectations about unknowns, has clear preferences and chooses its actions deliberately after some process of optimization"1.

Within that broader framework, Will involves the following considerations:

  • Rational Calculation of Interests – The top executive applies cost-benefit analysis to determine which policy option would best advance national and personal interests. These interests may include economics, security, diplomacy, politics or other areas where the political entity is expected to meet the needs of its inhabitants.
  • Perception of the Other Party – One's Will is impacted by the assessment and the perception of the other party's Will, Delivery Capability and Legitimacy, since these are essential considerations for decision-making.
  • Readiness to Take Risk – In this context, risks can be divided into two categories:
  1. Geopolitical Risks – refer to risks that even a well-designed, planned and managed policy may not serve or may even do a disservice to national interests;
  2. Political Risks – refer to risks that, despite strategic gains, a policy may be unpopular or erode the top executive's political power;
  • Ideology – Will is impacted by ideology which impacts the perception of national interests and the readiness to take political risks.


1 Rubinstein Ariel & Martin Osborne, A Course in Game Theory, MIT press, 1994, p. 4.