Role theory and U.S. foreign Policy in the Israeli-Palestinian Peace Process

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Political Science

Date of Award

Summer 2012


This thesis examines the role the United States has played in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process over approximately the last twenty years. In an attempt to better comprehend this phenomenon, Stephen John Stedman (1997) developed a typology in which he identifies the occurrence of what he calls spoilers to the process of peace. Spoilers are the parties directly involved in the conflict that the peace agreement is centered on. They have competing interests, goals, and worldviews and see the compromise necessary to achieve peace as a threat to their power. According to Stedman's typology, the Israeli government and the Palestinian Authority would be the spoilers, and the U.S. would be considered a custodian in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. Custodians are members of the international community who work with the spoilers to execute the peace agreements. Stedman believes that how the custodians choose to mange the spoiler problem will ultimately be the deciding factor in the success or failure of the peace process. The purpose of this thesis is to apply Stedman's typology to the Israeli-Palestinian peace process and address what success, or lack thereof, the U.S. has had in its management of the spoilers. Role theory is used to examine U.S. involvement in this peace process. This thesis seeks to demonstrate that while the goal of the U.S. has been to successfully embody the role of custodian, in reality, it has taken on more of the characteristics of a spoiler. As a result, it has had a negative influence and at times even retarded the progress of peace.


JoAnn DiGeorgio-Lutz

Subject Categories

Political Science | Social and Behavioral Sciences