Peace process is characterized by a complex political and social context creating difficult challenges for societies previously engulfed by conflict and for those who lead them. This was the case when the official peace process—known as “the Oslo process”—started between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization on September 1993. The basic role of a political leader from a sociopsychological perspective is to assist society in coping with the challenges that it faces and to mobilize its members for the policy she/he is constructing. In the challenging circumstances of a peace process following an intractable conflict, as those created during the Oslo process, the role of the leader becomes even more prominent. A unique psychosocial role for a leader during a peace process is coping with duality which characterizes it. During the Oslo process, for example, both Yitzhak Rabin and Yasser Arafat had to assist their societies in coping with a complex dual reality, which included cooperation and signing agreements between the sides, acts of serious violence, continued building of settlements in the occupied territories, and agreement violations. Each of the leaders fulfilled this role using messages of different content but whose aim was similar—to create rhetorical containment. The aim of rhetorical containment—a concept which is proposed for the first time in this chapter—is to aid the public in moderating and processing the difficulties and the pain involved in the peace process and to accept the complex character of the process through the speeches of the leader.
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