Margaret O'Brien SteinfelsNovember 2, 2004 - 2:15am0 comments
The Missing Peace
The Inside Story of the Fight for Middle East Peace
Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $35, 840 pp.
Israel and the Arabs, 1948-2003
Princeton University Press, $16.95, 344 pp.
How Israel Lost
The Four Questions
Richard Ben Cramer
Simon & Schuster, $24, 307 pp.
We had a rainy summer in my part of the country; fortunately, Dennis Ross’s chronicle of failed peacemaking was at hand—all 840 pages. Anyone with a keen interest in the Middle East, or in the arduous work of making peace, or in the potential of negotiators to lose sight of the facts on the ground, should read it, but with a critical eye—rain or shine.
The Missing Peace is a chronicle of the ups and downs (mostly downs) from 1988 to 2000 of Ross’s efforts as the United States’ chief negotiator to end the conflict in the Middle East by bringing Israeli, Palestinian, Jordanian, and Syrian representatives, or some combination thereof, to the table—with the Egyptians and Saudis looking on. And a chronicle it is, an hour-to-hour, day-by-day account of major negotiations at Madrid, Wye, Shepherdstown, Camp David II, and preparatory meetings and postmortems in dozens of settings in Europe and the Middle East.
Ross began his marathon in the first Bush administration, working closely with Secretary of State James Baker to open the Madrid negotiations and to put a damper on the burgeoning Israeli settlements on the West Bank. In withholding U.S. loan guarantees, Baker and President George H. W. Bush acted to penalize Israel for this settlement policy—the last administration to do so. Ross stayed on as chief negotiator in the Clinton administration, and in his telling, was the central figure in conveying, negotiating, pushing, and pressing the Israelis and...