Ballots, bargains, and bombs: Terrorist targeting of spoiler opportunities

Alex Braithwaite, Dennis M. Foster, David A. Sobek

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Benjamin Netanyahu's come-from-behind victory over Shimon Peres in the Israeli national elections of May 1996, following an apparent intensification of Palestinian terrorism over the course of that spring, reminded observers of the political ramifications of terrorism. Since May 1996 was also the month in which Israel reentered Final Status negotiations with a Palestinian delegation in Taba, Egypt, the timing of this surge in violence encourages us to ask if terrorists regularly conceive of elections and rounds of negotiations as "spoiler opportunities," or opportune times to undermine peaceful political processes. We address this question in the context of Israel's long-running experience with elections, negotiations, and terrorism. We hypothesize that attacks resulting in fatalities are likely to increase in periods immediately surrounding Israeli general elections and key rounds of negotiations affecting the fate of the Palestinian population. Negative binomial event count analyses of the period 1970-2007 suggest that violent opponents indeed viewed the periods preceding negotiations and the ends of electoral cycles as "spoiler opportunities."

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)294-305
Number of pages12
JournalInternational Interactions
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2010


  • Elections
  • Israel
  • Negotiations
  • Spoiling behaviors
  • Terrorism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Political Science and International Relations


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