The Road to Damascus . . .

Itamar Rabinovich's The Brink of Peace is a masterly chronicle of the Syrian-Israeli peace negotiations of 1993-96, in which Israel and Syria--and America--once staked so much hope.

Issue: Spring 1999

Itamar Rabinovich, The Brink of Peace: The Syrian-Israeli Negotiations (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1998), 238 pp., $24.95.

We can only marvel today at the extravagant hopes that attended Syrian-Israeli diplomacy in the interlude between 1993 and 1996, and at the American expectation that a deal was imminent between these two antagonists. It was what the Clinton administration wanted and yearned for. There may have been no great American investment in the endeavor, but a conviction had seized American officials that a Pax Americana that would marginalize Iran was within reach, and that such a design required a Syrian-Israeli accord. Indeed, as the scholar and diplomat Itamar Rabinovich, who conducted Israel's negotiations, tells us in his masterful chronicle of this period, a time had been set aside on Bill Clinton's schedule for a possible meeting with Hafez al-Asad and Yitzhak Rabin in November of 1995.

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