1st Edition

Scandinavian Diplomacy and the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict Official and Unofficial Soft Power

By Nir Levitan Copyright 2023

    This book scrutinises how three small Scandinavian countries – Norway, Sweden and Denmark – developed a unique foreign policy that brought Israel and the Palestinians to the negotiating table.

    Bringing together the field of soft power diplomacy with the field of conflict mediation, the text analyses the specific type of peace diplomacy offered by Scandinavia. It identifies the different methods and policies of the three Scandinavian countries, as well as the strengths and weaknesses of their mediation strategies. Close examination of the historical record through primary and secondary sources in five languages reveals how Scandinavian involvement worked over almost three decades and to what extent it shaped the content of the Oslo peace talks. The author documents how the Scandinavian countries employed soft power diplomacy to enlist the aid of more powerful countries and international institutions to compensate for their limited authority and legitimacy, and how they used the Middle East peace process to strengthen their own national interests, financial standing and international status.

    The book will appeal to scholars, diplomats, politicians, educators and students interested in Scandinavian foreign policy and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

    1. Introduction  2. Historical Background  3. Norway  4. Sweden  5. Denmark  6. Conclusion: Observations & Reflections


    Nir Levitan is a lecturer in the Israeli Special Studies Program for the Security Forces, a research fellow at the Europa Institute and an affiliate fellow at the Center for Koldkrigsstudier, University of Southern Denmark. He is an Israeli-Danish scholar and geopolitical analyst. His academic work focuses on issues of conflict resolution, conflict management and mediation as well as negotiation theory. Levitan is the author of a wide range of articles on foreign politics in the Scandinavian countries and in the Middle East and he frequently appears on Israeli media outlets as a commentator on Scandinavian related political affairs. He holds a PhD from Bar-Ilan University's Graduate Program in Conflict Resolution, Management and Negotiation.

    'In this empirically granular study, Nir Levitan investigates the special mediation approach adopted by the Scandinavian countries during the Oslo years – and how it helped to put the right pressure on the parties to achieve progress. This book constitutes an important contribution to the field of negotiation theory. It also holds a wealth of new insights for practitioners, notably within international diplomacy – simply a must-read!'

    Dr Björn Brenner, Former UN official; Senior lecturer, Swedish Defence University


    'This is a very impressive work of scholarship that tells us in detail the involvement of three Scandinavian countries (Norway, Sweden, and Denmark) in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, beyond what we usually know about the 'Oslo process.' NGOs, students, politicians, practitioners, from the Middle East, Europe, and North America, will find this book very appealing and attractive, due to its important contribution to the subject matter.'

    Arie M. Kacowicz, Chaim Weizmann Chair in International Relations, Hebrew University of Jerusalem; Aaron and Cecile Goldman Visiting Israeli Professor, Georgetown University 2022-2023


    'Nir Levitan’s book is an important contribution to the history of the Scandinavian countries and the Middle East peace process. Whereas Norway’s role in the Oslo accords is evident, and Sweden’s position as active non-aligned power is broadly acknowledged, Denmark’s part is less known. Levitan offers exciting new insights, particularly on the initiatives of the former Mossad deputy chief David Kimche and the renown Danish journalist Herbert Pundik.'

    Thomas Wegener Friis, University of Southern Denmark


    'Nir Levitan has written a fine analysis of three Scandinavian (Norway, Sweden, and Denmark) countries’ policies vis-à-vis the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. These countries, especially Norway and Sweden, have for decades had a special interest in just this conflict and spent significant resources trying to mediate. Scandinavian Diplomacy and the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict unpacks and analyzes the open and secret channels before, during, and after the Oslo peace process of the 1990s. Since no similar comparative study exists, Levitan has made a valuable contribution to the literature on Scandinavian foreign policy as well as European-Israeli-Palestinian relations.'

    Dr Anders Persson, Associate Professor in Political Science at Linnaeus University, Sweden; author of 'EU Diplomacy and the Israeli–Arab Conflict, 1967–2019'