The “illuminating” (Los Angeles Times) answer to why Israel and Palestine’s attempts at negotiation have failed and a practical, “admirably measured” (The New York Times) roadmap for bringing peace to the Middle East—by an impartial American diplomat experienced in solving international conflicts.
George Mitchell knows how to bring peace to troubled regions. He was the primary architect of the 1998 Good Friday Agreement for peace in Northern Ireland. But when he served as US Special Envoy for Middle East Peace from 2009 to 2011—working to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict—diplomacy did not prevail. Now, for the first time, Mitchell offers his insider account of how the Israelis and the Palestinians have progressed (and regressed) in their negotiations through the years and outlines the specific concessions each side must make to finally achieve lasting peace.
This admirably concise summary of decades of Palestinian-Israeli conflict and the many futile attempts at diplomatic resolution provides some context to the current impasse and the United States' role in keeping negotiations going. Mitchell (The Negotiator), a former U.S. senator who served as Special Envoy for Middle East Peace from 2009 to 2011, rarely strays from the bland language of political process, but nonetheless provides a valuably high-level perspective. His points often seem obvious: "History has shown that real breakthroughs between Israelis and Arabs occur only when the parties themselves realize that the cost of continued conflict outweighs the risk of an agreement." Yet amid his summaries of seemingly endless negotiations, his message that both parties are likely to eventually take "the painful and politically difficult steps" needed for a two-state solution remains constant. The brisk narration of events from Israel's founding up to the efforts of George W. Bush's administration gets more detailed and slightly more critical when Mitchell covers his own time as an envoy for President Obama. Mitchell's careful statements may simply seem inconclusive to the more casual reader, but this is only a testament to the level of nuance in this scrupulous book.