Winner of the 2014 Lionel Trilling Book Award
An examination of the failure of the United States as a broker in the Palestinian-Israeli peace process, through three key historical moments
For more than seven decades the conflict between Israel and the Palestinian people has raged on with no end in sight, and for much of that time, the United States has been involved as a mediator in the conflict. In this book, acclaimed historian Rashid Khalidi zeroes in on the United States’s role as the purported impartial broker in this failed peace process.
Khalidi closely analyzes three historical moments that illuminate how the United States’ involvement has, in fact, thwarted progress toward peace between Israel and Palestine. The first moment he investigates is the “Reagan Plan” of 1982, when Israeli prime minister Menachem Begin refused to accept the Reagan administration’s proposal to reframe the Camp David Accords more impartially. The second moment covers the period after the Madrid Peace Conference, from 1991 to 1993, during which negotiations between Israel and Palestine were brokered by the United States until the signing of the secretly negotiated Oslo accords. Finally, Khalidi takes on President Barack Obama’s retreat from plans to insist on halting the settlements in the West Bank.
Through in-depth research into and keen analysis of these three moments, as well as his own firsthand experience as an advisor to the Palestinian delegation at the 1991 pre–Oslo negotiations in Washington, DC, Khalidi reveals how the United States and Israel have actively colluded to prevent a Palestinian state and resolve the situation in Israel’s favor. Brokers of Deceit bares the truth about why peace in the Middle East has been impossible to achieve: for decades, US policymakers have masqueraded as unbiased agents working to bring the two sides together, when, in fact, they have been the agents of continuing injustice, effectively preventing the difficult but essential steps needed to achieve peace in the region.
Khalidi, a Middle East historian and Columbia University professor of modern Arab studies, continues his deconstruction of the obstacles to stability in the region. His detailing of the roots of the Palestinian struggle in The Iron Cage (2006) and his demonstration of U.S. interest in fostering instability in Sowing Crisis (2009), are synthesized here in a comprehensive exposition of what he calls the United States' role as "Israel's lawyer" in ensuring that Palestinian statehood will never be achieved. Khalidi itemizes successive administrations that have set forth two-state solutions only to back rapidly away, instead crafting "Orwellian" linguistic feats whose outcome has redefined Palestinian autonomy to mean only people, not land, and a Palestinian Authority that serves as little more than an auxiliary Israeli police force. Reagan's backtracking from an initially firm antisettlement stance, George H.W. Bush's surrender on the issue of loan guarantees to Israel, Condoleezza Rice's tone-deafness to Palestinian concerns, and the use of unquestioning support for Israel as a litmus test for presidential candidates in 2012 are ably used by Khalidi to construct a chronicle of the U.S. willfully squandering its role in "peace processes."