In This Review

Crossing the Jordan: Israel's Hard Road to Peace

Crossing the Jordan: Israel's Hard Road to Peace
By Samuel Segev
420 pp, St. Martin's Press, 1998
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Veteran Israeli journalist Segev concentrates on the post-1991 phase of Israeli-Arab negotiations but also ranges back in time. His sources are largely notes from interviews over the past two decades with many Israeli officials, several Arabs, and other non-Israelis, a good sampling of the personal memoirs of political figures, and much material from the Israeli and Arab press. With an emphasis on political personalities and rivalries, all set within a dogged reconstruction of who did what when, the book is less concerned with the meaning of it all. Yitzhak Rabin comes off best. Peres is duplicitous if not worse. Israel's Oslo negotiator, Savir, has limited military experience and doesn't quite grasp either Israel's security needs or Arab political culture. George Bush and James Baker were bad, Shamir not so bad. Israeli doves are naive and at times almost tools of Egypt and the plo. Good words for Palestine's Abu Mazen, not so for Yasir Arafat. The book will be most useful to specialists attempting their own detailed reconstruction of developments. Segev's separate chapters on Israeli relations with King Hassan of Morocco, King Hussein of Jordan, and Saddam Hussein of Iraq offer solid documentation for which any scholar must be grateful, even if not in agreement with the interpretive pitch.