In This Review

Israel on the Road to Peace: Accepting the Unacceptable
Israel on the Road to Peace: Accepting the Unacceptable
By Ziva Flamhaft
Westview, 1996, 252 pp

The purpose of this book is to underscore the important role of Israeli domestic politics in the ups and downs of the peace process in recent years. This is a valid, if not particularly novel, point, and unfortunately the book adds little to the story or to the broader understanding of the diplomacy of Arab-Israeli peace. The author, who is pro-Labor, notes the many times that American initiatives were rejected because they entailed more concessions than Israel was prepared to make. That is no doubt true, but certainly American statesmen had other objectives in mind than obtaining the agreement of the Israeli government of the day. The Reagan initiative of 1982, which opposed Israeli annexation of the West Bank and called for a halt in settlement activity, was launched primarily to appease Egypt, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia in the aftermath of the Israeli invasion of Lebanon. And eventually George Bush and James Baker helped to unseat the Shamir government when, in new regional circumstances, many Israelis perceived rejection of U.S. proposals to be too costly. Was that a failure of U.S. diplomacy, or an astute form of pressure? The book is also marred by numerous errors. Israeli Foreign Minister Moshe Dayan, for example, did not spend "some years" in "pre-negotiations" with Anwar Sadat's adviser before the Camp David Accords were negotiated. He met him twice in late 1977, with only modest consequences.