An objective, well-researched historical backdrop to the Israeli-Palestinian peace accord, by a Washington-based reporter. Perry (Eclipse: The Last Days of the CIA, 1992, etc.) offers insights into the events that led up to the dramatic accord signed on the White House lawn. In the wake of the Six-Day War in 1967, Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank became ``occupied Palestinians'' and, the author implies, the world's favorite victims. In the initial chapter of this solid account, the reader is taken inside Gaza's Jabaliya refugee camp, ``a hotbed of radicalism, the flagship of the Palestinian revolution and a symbol of resistance to the Israeli occupation.'' Both the Israelis and the Palestinians subsequently made a number of strategic errors that, ironically, made the pursuit of peace almost inevitable. Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir, of Israel's Likud party, aroused the ire of the Bush administration with his intransigence, helping to assure Labor's victory in 1992. Labor Prime Minister Rabin's expulsion of hundreds of Islamic fundamentalists inadvertently drove the PLO and the extremist Hamas closer together. On the other side of the table, Arafat's poor judgment in backing Iraq during the Persian Gulf War cost the PLO millions of dollars in aid, making it desperate to grasp any deal. In addition, writes Perry, ``by choosing not to fight against Iraq, Israel implicitly made itself an ally of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and even Syria. The Gulf War made Israel a part of the Middle East as no other event had in its forty-year history.'' All these factors (and many more), coupled with the fall of the Soviet Union, are noted by Perry as crucial in pushing Israel and its neighbors to the peace table. The ideas are not original but are neatly collected and discussed here. An engrossing look behind one of the decade's most dramatic moments.
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