The Missing Peace by Dennis Ross
It is possible not to see the forest for the trees. It is even possible, by seeing only the trees, to forget that the forest exists. This is true of Dennis Ross’s The Missing Peace.
Ross, the special U.S. envoy to the Middle East from 1988 to 2000, was as intensely involved in the Middle East “peace process” as anyone in Washington. He was in on it from the beginning, when, under the first Bush administration (previously he had served under President Reagan at the Middle East desk of the National Security Council), he played a role in convening the 1991 Madrid Conference that brought Israeli, Syrian, and PLO-picked Palestinian representatives together publicly for the first time. This conference was, in its own right, a flop, but following the Israeli elections of 1992, which replaced the hard-line Likud government of Yitzhak Shamir with the more flexible Labor government of Yitzhak Rabin, secret Israeli-Palestinian and Israeli-Syrian negotiations were commenced. These led to the 1993 Oslo Agreement and its aftermath, and to near-agreements between Rabin and Syrian president Hafez el-Assad, and years later, between Assad and Israeli prime minister Ehud Barak.
About the Author
Hillel Halkin is a columnist for the New York Sun and a veteran contributor to COMMENTARY. Portions of the present essay were delivered at Northwestern University in March as the Klutznick Lecture in Jewish Civilization.