Carrying Capacity

This concept refers to a party's ability to implement the policies it wishes to pursue in a particular context.


The concept of Carrying Capacity1 refers to a party's ability to implement the policies it wishes to pursue in a particular context.


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 statements, decisions or actions provide insufficient value to 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 Reut Institute offers a set of concepts and analysis that aspires to provide decision-makers with a conceptual framework in this regard (see the document: Principles for the Examination of Israeli-Palestinian Partnership).

Components of Carrying Capacity

A government's capacity to produce or sustain policies is limited by the resources available to it. These resources can be divided into five components:

  1. Material – Availability of human, financial or other physical resources, e.g. weapons or technology.
  2. Building and Sustaining Coalitions – Capacity of the top executive to stay in power and forge coalitions to pass decisions and required legislation in the relevant executive and legislative bodies.
  3. Constitutional – Capacity to constitutionally ratify executive and legislative decisions. For example, in the Palestinian case, only the PLO is constitutionally fit to reach agreements with Israel, while the Palestinian Authority is not.2
  4. Institutional – Capacity of branches of government to "get stuff done", i.e. to sustain cross-agency cooperation in planning and decision-making, as well as in the implementation of policies.

1 The concept of carrying capacity was borrowed by the world of political science from the field of ecology. In ecology, carrying capacity refers to the "maximum number of animals … that can be supported by a particular habitat or area through the most unfavorable period of the year." This is because an ecosystem has only enough food, water, and shelter to support a certain population size. The underlying notion is that limits on resources lead to a limit on what and how much a system can support or produce. See: Encyclopedia Britannica On-Line.

Similarly, governments have limited resources that restrict the number of decisions they can make and programs they can implement.

2 See also Analysis-Base Product Who Should Be the Interlocutor: the PLO or the Palestinian Authority?? and the concept of Palestinian Constitutional Structure.