Summary of "Principled Negotiation at Camp David as described in Getting to Yes"

Summary of

Principled Negotiation at Camp David as described in Getting to Yes

by Roger Fisher and William Ury

Summary written by: Conflict Research Consortium Staff

Citation: "Principled Negotiation at Camp David" as described in Getting to Yes, Roger Fisher and William Ury. New York: Penguin Books, 1981.

In Getting to Yes, Fisher and Ury illustrate the importance of principled negotiation by examining the 1978 Egyptian-Israeli negotiations at Camp David. When the negotiations started, the sides’ positions were completely opposed to each other. Egypt insisted on complete sovereignty over the Sinai Peninsula (which Israel had occupied in the 1967 6-day war), while Israel insisted on keeping control of at least some of the Sinai. Map after map was drawn, each with different dividing lines. None managed to meet the positions of both sides simultaneously.

"Looking to their interests instead of their positions made it possible to develop a solution. Israel’s interest lay in security; they did not want Egyptian tanks poised on their border ready to roll across at any time. Egypt’s interest lay in sovereignty; the Sinai had been part of Egypt since the time of the Pharaohs." (Fisher and Ury, 1981, p. 41). By reframing the conflict in this way, a solution was reached. Egypt was given full sovereignty over the Sinai, but large portions of the area were demilitarized, which assured Israel’s security at the same time.

Carter also followed the concepts of principled negotiation (though he didn’t call it that) insofar as he focused the negotiation on the substantive issues in dispute, and used shuttle mediation to avoid the very severe "people problems" (antagonism) between Sadat and Begin which prevented them from meeting each other face-to-face anytime except at the beginning and the ending of the negotiations. He also used interest-based framing to allow the two sides to invent options for mutual gain–a way that they could both get what they needed at the same time.