Six political–psychological assumptions are presented as the basis for this paper's argument that direct Israeli–Palestinian negotiations are necessary and possible and for its delineation of the requirements of such negotiations. The last of these assumptions – that neither party will enter negotiations that leave its right to national existence in doubt – is linked to the psychological core of the conflict: its perception by the parties as a zero–sum conflict around national identity and existence. This view has led to a mutual denial of each other's identity and right to exist and systematic efforts to delegitimize the other. Such efforts have undermined the steps toward negotiation that leaders on both sides have in fact taken because each defines the negotiating framework in ways that are profoundly threatening to the other. Negotiations are possible only in a framework of mutual recognition, which makes it clear that recognition of the other's rights represents assertion, rather than abandonment, of one's own rights. Such negotiations can be facilitated through a prenegotiation process conducive to differentiation of the enemy image, including a breakdown of the monolithic view of the enemy camp, a distinction between the enemy's ideological dreams and operational programs, and a differentiation between negative and positive components of the other's ideology and symbols of legitimacy.