In This Review

Touching Peace: From the Oslo Accord to a Final Agreement
Touching Peace: From the Oslo Accord to a Final Agreement
By Yossi Beilin
Trafalgar Square, 2000, 292 pp

Israeli-Palestinian diplomacy over the decades-with its many wars, occupation, third-party mediators, secret talks, and finally open negotiations-constitutes a compelling subject. One of the most fascinating phases in this long history is the run-up to the 1993 Oslo Agreement and its fitful aftermath. Two stimulating accounts by participants, one Palestinian and one Israeli, already exist: Through Secret Channels by Mahmoud Abbas (also known as Abu Mazen) and Uri Savir's The Process: 1000 Days that Changed the Middle East. Now Beilin, the kingpin on the Israeli side who set up and monitored this negotiating breakthrough, offers his account. Especially interesting is his story of how this initiative had to be carefully navigated to avoid the shoals of domestic Israeli politics. At several crucial junctures, Beilin even withheld information about the negotiations from his own superiors (Shimon Peres and Yitzhak Rabin) fearing that they might abort them. The latter third of this book presents Beilin's bold agenda of changes that Israel needs as it moves to a "time of peace," deftly addressing foreign policy, relations between religion and state, electoral reform, the Israeli Arabs, and more.