In This Review

How Israelis and Palestinians Negotiate: A Cross-Cultural Analysis of the Oslo Peace Process
How Israelis and Palestinians Negotiate: A Cross-Cultural Analysis of the Oslo Peace Process
Edited by Tamara Cofman Wittes
172 pp, U.S. Institute of Peace Press, 2005
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Here is a different quartet addressing Israeli-Palestinian negotiations -- not the EU, Russia, the United Nations, and the United States, but William Quandt, Omar Dajani, Aharon Klieman, and Tamara Wittes. Quandt sets out in chronological order 12 different Israeli-Palestinian démarches, from the 1988 Palestinian acceptance of UN Resolution 242 to the Taba talks of January 2001. Dajani discusses the mindset that Palestinians brought to these negotiations, and then Klieman does the same for the Israelis. In a concluding chapter, Wittes sums up the findings and offers useful "lessons for negotiators." This slender book deserves a robust reading. By honing in on the ideas and assumptions that the parties bring to the table, the authors have transcended the blame game. It is refreshing to find the most telling critique of the Palestinian performance penned by Dajani, and of the Israeli one by Klieman. All the contributors illuminate how a nation's history, imagined history, self-image, and image of the Other create a distinctive approach to negotiations. One can still argue that the failure to produce a settlement in 2000, for example, lies with (A)rafat or (B)arak or (C)linton, but this book shows that all parties negotiated very much as was to be expected -- which in turn evokes a few poignant "if only" musings.