Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO)
In this timely and well-written book, Seth Anziska draws historical lines from the Carter era (1977–81) to the Oslo accords of the mid-1990s. He argues that the result of the US-led Arab-Israeli diplomacy of those two decades was that a Palestinian state was prevented. The architect of this state prevention was Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin, but later Israeli leaders such as Shamir, Sharon and Netanyahu continued the path set forth by Begin. The structure of this prevention is simple – delay and undermine any proposal aimed at Palestinian self-determination, while expanding Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories. In parallel to this process, Israeli leaders have both waged war against the PLO and sought to find political alternatives to the PLO, such as Jordan or the Palestinian 'village leagues'. Anziska's account is particularly intriguing for the Carter and Reagan years, where he has made the most of an impressive array of sources. The chapters in question set the standard for other historians revisiting these two presidencies. Anziska shows how Carter started his presidency wanting to solve the Palestinian issue but was outmaneuvered by Begin. Reagan, on the other hand, came in with a total antipathy towards the Palestinians but in light of Begin's brutal conduct in Lebanon ended up (temporarily) pushing for a Palestinian solution. Throughout this whole period, the Palestinians insisted on national liberation, not merely autonomy. Moving from defeat to defeat, however, by the early 1990s the PLO decided to opt for the Oslo promise of an interim solution, hoping to get more further down the line. Instead the process has stalled into the perpetual non-solution of a non-state.