Negotiations with Terrorists

Date of event:

The Prague Centre for Transatlantic relation of the CEVRO Institute (PCTR) in the cooperation with the International Institute for Counter-Terrorism (ICT) organised a public lecture “Negotiation with Terrorists” on December 8, 2016. The keynote speaker was Col. (Res.) Lior Lotan, an Israeli lawyer and one of the world’s foremost experts in hostage-barricade situations and hostage negotiations. Mjr. Miroslav Vymyslický, National coordinator of crisis negotiations Police of the Czech Republic also participated in the lecture. The event was opened and moderated by the Vice President for International Relations of the CEVRO Institute Tomáš Pojar.

According to Lior Lotan, negotiation with terrorist is different from anything we know that works in negotiations in everyday life. Moreover, it is influenced by biases, manipulation and miscalculations. The aim of negotiation is than to convince the other side that there are no crushing interests. For successful negotiation building of trust between parties is crucial which is extremely complicated during crisis situations.

Lior Lotan continued by describing the most important events that formed Israeli approach to negotiation with terrorists. Israeli reaction to the plane hijacking in 1968 send a clear signal that Israel does not negotiate with terrorists. Following events pointed the Israeli policy in this way: If there is a tactical option, they will go tactical. In case Israeli civilians are in crisis in friendly country – like it was during Munich Olympic Games in 1972 – they ask the relevant country to go tactical. If there is no tactical option, they will go to true concession.

Col. Lotan also showed how the demands decreased with each new event. But it is not about the issue itself in the first place and more and more the crisis situation serves as a stage for demonstration and to draw attention. It is linked to the evolution of war from industrial to modern wars that are mostly bout narrative. Those controlling communication channels are thus the most powerful ones because they can not only influence reality but even create it.

Mjr. Miroslav Vymyslický followed Lior Lotan by sharing his experience from the Czech Republic. While in Israel army is in charge of crisis negotiation, it is police in the Czech Republic. The structure of crisis situation is also totally different because the negotiators in the Czech Republic deal in 80 % of the cases with suicide attempts. Crisis negotiators are official part of the Czech Police structures from 2002. From that year this unit of small number of full-time negotiators also trained a significant number of officers with specialization in crisis negotiation all around the Czech Republic.

The discussion was opened by the moderator Tomáš Pojar and the questions from the audience followed. Lior Lotan’s personal experience from many crisis situations was the most interesting part for the Czech audience. To answer why he become negotiator, he said that it was because he come to conclusion that more sophisticated tool than the bravery of soldiers is needed to fight terrorists.

For the support of the event we would like to thank our partners: International Institute for Counter-Terrorism (ICT), Interdisciplinary Center (IDC), Herzliya, Israel; Česká zbrojovka; Czech-Israeli Chamber of Commerce; and Mr. Petr Mothejl.