Catalogue

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The brink of peace : the Israeli-Syrian negotiations /
Itamar Rabinovich.
imprint
Princeton, N.J. : Princeton University Press, c1998.
description
xv, 283 p. ; 24 cm.
ISBN
0691058687 (alk. paper)
format(s)
Book
Holdings
More Details
imprint
Princeton, N.J. : Princeton University Press, c1998.
isbn
0691058687 (alk. paper)
catalogue key
2268144
 
Includes bibliographical references (p. [265]-271) and index.
A Look Inside
About the Author
Author Affiliation
Itamar Rabinovich is Professor of History at Tel Aviv University, where he holds the Yona and Dina Ettinger Chair in the Contemporary History of the Middle East, and A. D. White Professor-at-Large at Cornell University. Among his books are The War for Lebanon: 1970-1985, Israel in the Middle East, and The Road Not Taken: Early Arab-Israeli Negotiations.
Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Choice on 1999-01:
Rabinovich, former Israeli ambassador to the US and a prominent specialist in Syrian history and politics, was appointed by then Prime Minister Rabin to head the delegation to peace talks with Syria from 1992 to 1996. He relates, as participant and as diplomatic historian, the inside story and essential features of the failed negotiations around two themes: the ways in which the two countries, with US help, communicated with each other, and the factors leading to failure. Rabinovich argues that Israel and Syria were never on the verge of a breakthrough and faults President Asad for not taking positive steps. Yet, both sides are now familiar with each other's positions, and resumption of negotiations toward a peaceful settlement is possible if the lessons of the failed negotiations are learned. In a wider sense, Rabinovich believes that the study of the negotiations contains important lessons for anyone interested in conflict resolution both on the theoretical level and in the specific Middle Eastern context. This valuable, well-written, objective description and analysis of an important issue will appeal to general readers of international politics as well as to students of Middle Eastern affairs. M. Curtis; Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, New Brunswick
Appeared in Publishers Weekly on 1998-08-17:
Far less well-known to the American public than the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations that led to the accord with the PLO, Israel's four-year diplomatic dialogue with Syria‘conducted mainly in Madrid, Damascus and Washington, D.C., between 1992 and 1996‘was tortuous, complex and ended at an impasse. Rabinovich, the Israeli diplomat and historian who headed Israel's delegation to Syria, has written an evenhanded, densely detailed chronicle that avoids being as plodding as the talks themselves by virtue of its revelations of secret back-channel face-offs and behind-the-scenes glimpses of the Clinton administration's frantic maneuvers. Rabinovich alludes more than once to Israel's and Syria's "mutual demonization," and he concedes that Israeli prime minister Yitzhak Rabin was in no hurry to reach an agreement with Syria. Yet he clearly places the brunt of the blame on Syrian president Hafiz al-Asad, who saw peace with Israel as an unavoidable prelude to his primary objective‘a better relationship with Washington. Syria's domination of Lebanon (where Damascus offered indirect support to Hizballah terrorists) and Asad's insistence on Israel's full withdrawal from the Golan Heights further strained the negotiations. After Rabin's assassination in 1995, Shimon Peres's willingness to make concessions, according to the author, frightened off Asad, who has not resumed talks. This saga of missed opportunities holds valuable lessons for those seeking peace in the Middle East. Editor, Walter Lippincott. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Reviews
Review Quotes
"A model of its genre: a book in which an aware participant provides both the inside skinny and the larger story-both the details known only to those who were there and the historical context . . . neither burdening the reader with unnecessary information nor skimping on important facts."-- Daniel Pipes, The Weekly Standard
"Provocative and insightful. . . . This book is a worthy read for those interested in this conflict beyond the superficial."-- Booklist
"Rabinovich ably traces the road that Israel and Syria have traveled, and shows what may lie ahead."-- Clyde Haberman, The New York Times Book Review
"Rabinovich writes clearly and fair-mindedly about the views of both sides; his readers gain a ringside seat at Arab-Israeli diplomacy at its most difficult."-- Kirkus Reviews
"This saga of missed opportunities holds valuable lessons for those seeking peace in the Middle East."-- Publishers Weekly
"This valuable, well-written, objective description and analysis of an important issue will appeal to general readers of international politics as well as to students of Middle Eastern affairs."-- Choice
This item was reviewed in:
Booklist,
Kirkus Reviews, August 1998
Publishers Weekly, August 1998
Choice, January 1999
To find out how to look for other reviews, please see our guides to finding book reviews in the Sciences or Social Sciences and Humanities.
Summaries
Main Description
A major casualty of the assassin's bullet that struck down Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin was a prospective peace accord between Syria and Israel. For the first time, a negotiator who had unique access to Rabin, as well as detailed knowledge of Syrian history and politics, tells the inside story of the failed negotiations. His account provides a key to understanding not only U.S. diplomacy in the Middle East but also the larger Arab-Israeli peace process. During the period from 1992 to 1996, Itamar Rabinovich was Israel's ambassador to Washington, and the chief negotiator with Syria. In this book, he looks back at the course of negotiations, terms of which were known to a surprisingly small group of American, Israeli, and Syrian officials. After Benjamin Netanyahu's election as Israel's prime minister in May 1996, a controversy developed. Even with Netanyahu's change of policy and harder line toward Damascus, Syria began claiming that both Rabin and his successor Peres had pledged full withdrawal from the Golan Heights. Rabinovich takes the reader through the maze of diplomatic subtleties to explain the differences between hypothetical discussion and actual commitment. "To the students of past history and contemporary politics," he writes, "nothing is more beguiling than the myriad threads that run across the invisible line which separates the two." The threads of this story include details of Rabin's negotiations and their impact through two subsequent Israeli administrations in less than a year, the American and Egyptian roles, and the ongoing debate between Syria and Israel on the factual and legal bases for resuming talks. The author portrays all sides and participants with remarkable flair and empathy, as only a privileged player in the events could do. In any assessment of future negotiations in the Middle East, Itamar Rabinovich's book will prove indispensable.
Publisher Fact Sheet
Written by a former Israeli ambassador to Washington & chief negotiator with Syria, this insider's account of the failed Israeli-Syrian peace negotiations provides a key to understanding not only U.S. diplomacy in the Middle East but also the Arab-Israeli peace process.
Unpaid Annotation
"The Brink of Peace is essential reading for anyone wanting to grasp the realities of the Israeli-Syrian negotiations that were the focus of U.S. Middle Eastern policy during President Clinton's first term. A brilliant diplomat with a broad knowledge of Syrian diplomatic history, former Israeli Ambassador Rabinovich guides us through the twists, turns, and ultimate frustration of his dogged efforts on behalf of peace. Written with gusto and clarity, his book combines scholarly depth with the unique perspective of a direct, key participant in the negotiations. My State Department colleagues and I felt privileged to work with the author on a regular basis for four years, and his graphic account is an important contribution to the scholarship on the vital issue of peace in the Middle East."--Warren Christopher, former U.S. Secretary of State "A book for multiple audiences: scholars of diplomacy, the constituency of Arab and Israeli affairs, students of American diplomacy of the Clinton years, and literate people who want a narrative that goes behind the scenes of diplomacy. It is a flawless work.... Professor Rabinovich, after a distinguished career, has written his best work so far."--Fouad Ajami, The Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies, The Johns Hopkins University
Unpaid Annotation
"The Brink of Peace is essential reading for anyone wanting to grasp the realities of the Israeli-Syrian negotiations that were the focus of U.S. Middle Eastern policy during President Clinton's first term. A brilliant diplomat with a broad knowledge of Syrian diplomatic history, former Israeli Ambassador Rabinovich guides us through the twists, turns, and ultimate frustration of his dogged efforts on behalf of peace. Written with gusto and clarity, his book combines scholarly depth with the unique perspective of a direct, key participant in the negotiations. My State Department colleagues and I felt privileged to work with the author on a regular basis for four years, and his graphic account is an important contribution to the scholarship on the vital issue of peace in the Middle East."--Warren Christopher, former U.S. Secretary of State"A book for multiple audiences: scholars of diplomacy, the constituency of Arab and Israeli affairs, students of American diplomacy of the Clinton years, and literate people who want a narrative that goes behind the scenes of diplomacy. It is a flawless work.... Professor Rabinovich, after a distinguished career, has written his best work so far."--Fouad Ajami, The Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies, The Johns Hopkins University
Table of Contents
Prefacep. ix
Trying to Recapture Yesterday's Shadowp. 3
Israel and Syria, Rabin and Asadp. 14
First Cracks in the Icep. 54
The Wing Beats of Historyp. 85
Between Amman and Damascusp. 120
The Security Dialoguep. 163
Bitter Harvest at the Wye Plantationp. 196
Conclusionp. 235
Postscriptp. 256
Notesp. 265
Indexp. 273
Table of Contents provided by Syndetics. All Rights Reserved.

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