A former U.S. senator and diplomatic negotiator considers the history of Palestinian-Israeli diplomacy over three-plus decades and what prospects for peace still exist.
Is a two-state solution still viable or a one-state undemocratic solution the grudging alternative? Mitchell (The Negotiator, 2015, etc.) is a revered, longtime peace negotiator and “special envoy” (in Northern Ireland and in Israel) and recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom (1999), and his co-author, Sachar, is a high-level State Department official with years of experience with the Middle East. As a diplomat, Mitchell has good manners and does not attack either side, though he is realistic in his historical assessment while still representing the pro-Israel U.S. His analysis of peace negotiations begins with the founding of the state of Israel and the “special relationship” the U.S. engendered by President Harry Truman’s recognition of the founding “just eleven minutes after their 1948 declaration of independence.” The American arming of Israel during the Cold War has been key in its ability to resist attack by its Arab neighbors, who were often supported by the Soviet Union, yet the U.S. also sold arms to Arab states, such as Jordan. The U.S. has vociferously denounced Israel’s “unrealistic vision of greater Israel” and pushed for “land for peace” concessions, while in 2002, George W. Bush “became the first U.S. president to make the establishment of a viable Palestinian state an explicit foreign policy objective.” Mitchell tiptoes through the various (failed) peace negotiations, from Camp David to Madrid to Oslo to Annapolis, and the Israeli political turnover, which has greatly affected the prospects for peace. Moreover, the author is stern regarding the Palestinian National Authority leadership, the corruption under Yasser Arafat, and the strong-armed disarray under current president Mahmoud Abbas.
Mitchell is careful not to ruffle too many feathers in his analysis, but many readers will wonder if officials on either side will follow his proposals.