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Negotiating Arab-Israeli Peace: American Leadership in the Middle East

  • ISBN13: 9781601270306
  • Condition: NEW
  • Notes: Brand New from Publisher. No Remainder Mark.

Product Description
As Washington struggles to revive the Arab-Israeli peace process, Kurtzer and Lasensky offer the definitive guidebook on how to broker peace in the Middle East. Negotiating Arab-Israeli Peace sets forth a compelling, interests-based framework for American engagement in the peace process; provides a critical assessment of U.S. diplomacy since the end of the Cold War; and offers a set of ten core lessons to guide the efforts of future American negotiators.

This concise volume is the product of the United States Institute of Peace s Study Group on Arab-Israeli Peacemaking, which brings together some of America s most respected and experienced authorities in the field: William B. Quandt (University of Virginia), Steven L. Spiegel (University of California-Los Angeles), and Shibley Z. Telhami (University of Maryland and the Brookings Institution). The book draws on nine months of groundbreaking consultations with dozens of statesmen, political leaders, and civil society figures who have defined Middle East peacemaking in recent years.

Negotiating Arab-Israeli Peace: American Leadership in the Middle East


  1. How can the US diplomatic community broker peace in the Middle East? Ambassador Kurtzer and Scott Lasensky, drawing on lessons from the past, offer the answers in this brief review of American leadership in the Middle East and how to pave the way to peace.

    The book opens up with an overview of the policies for peace and track record of the past three administrations: Bush 41, Clinton, and Bush 43, reviewing each one’s focus, discipline, and ability to garner domestic support for a peace plan. Although the Bush 41 team inherited an advantageous strategic environment, with the US as the only world’s superpower at the fall of the USSR, and with an unequivocal success after the first Gulf War, there was no focused effort in building a domestic coalition to support the peace process. Clinton was successful in building this coalition, but his efforts were lacking in focus and discipline. Bush 43’s track record was the least successful of the three, due not only to the post 9/11 environment, but also to some “more discretionary factors” (p. 15) and to a lack of “both commitment and a sense of strategic purpose” (p. 21).

    The authors then shift to a discussion of the ten lessons learned in the Arab-Israeli peace process, divided up into four sections: (1) The Strategic Context; (2) Style and Substance; (3) The Foreign Policy Process and U.S. Domestic Politics; and (4) The Negotiator’s Toolkit. The ten lessons learned are as follow:

    – Arab-Israeli peace is in America’s interest. September 11, increasing instability in the Middle East, the occupation of Iraq, and the threat from al Qaeda make American leadership in achieving Arab-Israeli peace even more important.

    – U.S. Policy must be defined in Washington. Consultations with the parties may take place outside of Washington, but they must be based on American-defined policy. It may be informed by the Arabs and Israelis, but not dictated by them.

    – The US must “not only exploit openings but also actively encourages, seek out, and create opportunities for peacemaking” (p. 34). Both the Clinton and Bush 43 administrations failed to exploit openings that presented themselves for peacemaking.

    – US leadership must help the parties make the necessary trade-offs to reach endgame solutions by bringing in key international and regional actors. To avoid resistance that may come in from within the region, the US should engage in careful regional consultations before releasing any peace plans.

    – The US must ensure compliance with the peace plans by “monitoring, setting standards of accountability, reporting violations fairly to the parties, and exacting consequences when commitments are broken or agreements not implemented” (p. 43).

    – The US president’s direct intervention should be reserved for when it is necessary and useful. In early phases of negotiation, issues are best left to senior aides. Presidents can become more directly involved during pivotal moments when such involvement is needed to close a deal or seize a diplomatic opportunity.

    – Draw on the expertise of diverse, disciplined, and experienced negotiators on a team with clear lines of authority, open debate, deliberation, and information sharing, and proper policy planning and preparation.

    – Build broad and bipartisan domestic support by cultivating relationships on Capitol Hill and with advocacy groups. There must be coordination with Congress, which may take action in the form of expressive measures (e.g., nonbinding resolutions) and legislation on foreign aid and arms sales.

    – A successful envoy must have strong, unambiguous support from the White House, credibility with all of the parties, a broad mandate, and a meaningful policy.

    – Use diplomatic tools, such as economic assistance and summitry, judiciously and with strategic objectives in mind. Otherwise, the cost may be “a loss of credibility and degradation of an important diplomatic tool” (p. 73).

    This book is not intended to be a compilation of policy recommendations as to what the content of Arab-Israeli peace should be. Rather, it offers guidance as to how to strategically build domestic support, win the favor of all of the parties in a negotiation, and draw on the expertise of experienced negotiators. It suggests how the American administration may successfully negotiate peace, but it does not suggest what the content of such peace should be. It does offer some possibilities, such as a two-state solution, as well as some of the obstacles that may frustrate such a solution (the Palestinian Intifada and Israel’s tough counterterrorist response, the ongoing problems of Israeli settlements and occupation practices, the radicalization of Palestinian politics” [p. 78], etc.), but it does not provide concrete details or espouse any one particular plan.

    Furthermore, this book is not a history of the region and it does not summarize or analyze the events in and around Israel over the last sixty years. It does present a timeline of the events that occurred from the 1967 Six-Day War until Bush’s 2007 Roadmap for Peace, but it does not cover the 1948 and 1957 Wars or any other events prior to 1967.

    Rating: 5 / 5

  2. This book should be required reading for anyone involved in diplomacy, Mid East affairs, government service or any other service related to Arab-Israeli relations. I have never read a more concise or straightforward approach to Arab-Israeli diplomacy as in this book right here. This team has done a fantastic job putting this powerful book together. I can’t say enough about how important this book is for those parties interested in peace between Arabs and Israelis, and how US policy can facilitate that peace.

    This book is very short with only about 85 pages for the main body. The very short size of this book belies its strength though. The main body is broken down into basically four parts. The first part is a quick assessment of the failures and successes of past policies. It breaks down the importance of US influence in the process, and describes some lessons that should be gleaned from past experiences. The next section is a quick report card of the last three US presidents and how their policies faired. This will be the purview of the rest of the study. It focuses in on the last three administrations and derives lessons from each ones failures and successes. This is where the third section and the majority of the text will focus. This third section breaks down the last three administrations into ten key lessons that should be learned from each. The book ends with a recommendation for the next administration and his team.

    To understand and learn the lessons that each of these three administrations offer this team has went and interviewed the major players from inside these administrations, Arab and Israeli officials and people from all vantage points that could possibly shed light on US diplomatic efforts during these administrations in order to attempt to create a whole picture, and this team has come closer than any other assessment I have ever read to creating that whole picture. Their discussion of the failures and accomplishments provides a lucid backdrop for their poignant and direct recommendations on how to improve US diplomatic efforts in the future.

    With the small size this makes this book a relatively quick read, but potential readers should understand that the book is written with the assumption that the reader is bringing the requisite base knowledge of the history of this region and US diplomatic efforts without the authors having to spoon feed the readers that history. While you don’t need to be an expert an Israeli/Arab history or US diplomatic efforts in this region it is important to have an understanding of historical events and the complexity of the situation in order to be able to take away everything this book has to offer.

    Lastly this book offers a nice timeline of important events, and a very good appendix section with a nice sampling of some important documents. This makes this book a nice reference as well. This is a very important work that is essential reading for those interested or directly involved in US policy decisions. I hope everyone interested in this area will read this mighty little work. Highly recommended.

    Rating: 5 / 5

  3. This book provides the basis for sucessful Arab-Israeli peacemaking.

    Foremost, this book is relatively short. It contains only 84 pages of main body, but a whopping 93 pages of included source documents and 5 maps. Because the main body is short, the book can be a quick read. However, the book is dense and assumes some reader background on the Middle East Peace Process.

    What this is not is an 800-page discourse of every minute detail and personality who took part in the Peace Process under Presidents H.W. Bush, Clinton, and W. Bush. Simply, this book is a (successful) attempt to review what has worked (and failed) under the last three presidents with regard to the Middle East Peace Process. The interviewees behind this book represent a balanced assortment of the players within the Peace Process from within both the region and the United States. From the US, some of the names include James Baker, Madeleine Albright, Colin Powell, Aaron Miller, Dennis Ross, and Anthony Zinni.

    This book pairs well with some of the other books that have come out on the Peace Process, as well as some of the PBS documentaries (notably “Elusive Peace: Israel and the Arabs”). At the back of the book is an extensive recommended reading list.

    This is a fantastic book. I consider it an essential reference on the Peace Process.

    Rating: 5 / 5


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