ISBN: 9780190060473

Morten Bergsmo

Centre for International Law and Research (CILRAP)

Read more about this book at

‘This book should be read as an obituary to the two-state solution’, veteran Middle East expert Ben-Ami writes in this flaying account of the 2000 Camp David negotiations (in which he participated for Israel) and later peace attempts. His chronicling is animated by sharp portraits of the dramatis personae in various negotiations, Israelis and Palestinians alike. Ehud Barak, Ben-Ami writes, a ‘conceited and bumptious Cartesian’, was ‘too abrasive to be able of levelling with’ Arafat. The latter had ‘an insatiable appetite for adulation’, seeing himself ‘as the reincarnation of Saladin’, and becoming ‘responsible for missing the optimal peace deal once it was offered’ by Barak. Ben-Ami believes the ‘Oslo bilateral way of peacemaking’ is in ‘irremediable disarray’, and that the 1991 Madrid Peace Conference approach of ‘peace through a Jordanian-Palestinian association needs to be revisited’. He echoes Begin’s sceptical words about mediators and third-party guarantors: ‘I have no problem with guarantees, but what I need are guarantees to guarantee the guarantees’. Well-written, his analysis is eerily relevant to the current Gaza crisis and wider tensions in the Middle East. Transitional justice is ‘fundamentally a political deal’, he argues: ‘The fundamentalist notion of the International Criminal Court (ICC) that in the transition from war to peace the “rule of law” replaces politics is utterly unrealistic’. Iran, he also anticipated, had a ‘strategic interest in blocking the chances of an Israeli-Arab rapprochement’, while ‘spreading its patronage over a swelling fundamentalist wave’ throughout the Middle East. While ‘[a]nger is not a strategy’, Ben-Ami soberly warns of the potential of an ‘apocalyptic confrontation that can inflame the entire region’.