Leadership and peacemaking: Yitzhak Rabin and the Oslo Accords

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Leaders guiding their groups through a peace process following a difficult conflict must address the unique challenges created by this process. This article describes the duality characterizing peace processes and offers an original conceptualization of the socio-psychological tasks leaders fulfill in this context, addressing security and control needs, changing collective beliefs and emotions, and mobilizing the group while simultaneously coping with social polarization. This paper reports on a case study of Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin's leadership during the Oslo Accords through his public speeches designed to mobilize his group's support. A content analysis of speeches following different types of events (positive, negative or neutral) and targeting different audiences (Israeli and international) highlights three major themes emerging from his rhetoric, which correlate to his tasks as a leader in peacemaking. The findings describe how Rabin coped with the challenges that arose from the complex peace process, while fulfilling the first two of his tasks and mobilizing his group, but not dealing with the deep social polarization that existed within Israeli society at that time. The triangular interaction between leader, society and context are discussed with regard to their impact on peace processes. Conclusions are drawn about the opportunities and setbacks of the Oslo Accords, considering Rabin's contribution to peacemaking.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)55-67
Number of pages13
JournalInternational Journal of Intercultural Relations
StatePublished - 1 Sep 2016


  • Israeli-Palestinian conflict
  • Oslo Accords
  • Peace process
  • Peacemaking
  • Rhetoric
  • Yitzhak Rabin
  • leadership


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