Cover image for The missing peace : the inside story of the fight for Middle East peace
The missing peace : the inside story of the fight for Middle East peace
Ross, Dennis.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York, N.Y. : Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2004.
Physical Description:
xvi, 840 pages, 16 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations, maps ; 24 cm
Personal Subject:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
DS119.76 .R68 2004 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
DS119.76 .R68 2004 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf

On Order



The respected ambassador and chief Middle East negotiator in both the Clinton and Bush administrations offers an assessment of the peace process from 1988 to the present.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Ross, chief Middle East peace negotiator in the presidential administrations of both George H. Bush and Bill Clinton, provides a masterful, riveting, and scrupulously fair account of a process that now seems like a noble failure. Ross tracks the slow unfolding of the peace process from the first tentative steps toward dialogue at the Madrid Conference to the collapse at Camp David and the descent into the ongoing violence of the second Intifada. There are wonderful insights here into the strengths and weaknesses of the numerous players in this drama, including, of course, Arafat, Peres, Barak, Assad, and more obscure but still significant figures. Ross writes eloquently and sadly of missed opportunities, and his frustration with the obstinacy and pettiness of Arafat is evident. Surprisingly, given the current level of violence, Ross concludes with an optimistic assessment of the long-term chances for peace. This is a brilliant and important insider's account that is essential reading for anyone wishing to better understand this seemingly intractable problem. --Jay Freeman Copyright 2004 Booklist

Publisher's Weekly Review

This is the ultimate insider's account of the roller-coaster ride of the Middle East peace process from 1988 to the breakdown of talks in 2001. More than anything else, Ross, the chief U.S. negotiator for Presidents Bush 41 and Clinton, has written an epic diplomat's handbook. We see the moves and countermoves on both sides, the preparation that goes into any statement or gesture, the backroom wheeling and dealing and the dance of language and meaning. Ross lays out, in painstaking detail, the "one step forward, two steps back" approach that finally led to such breakthroughs as the handshake on the White House lawn. He offers detailed accounts of Yitzhak Rabin's assassination, the rise and fall of Benjamin Netanyahu and a picture of Arafat "seeking to have it both ways... La-Nam (no and yes in Arabic)." Ross's critical eye paints a vivid picture of the very different characters and strategies of Arafat, Barak and Clinton, and what led to the failure at Camp David. While Ross lands in the blame-Arafat camp, he is not without criticism of Barak and Clinton. Tragically, for all those who follow this region, Ross's book does not present a hopeful picture; the litany of failures sounds like a broken record: "We left the region hopeful, but that hope was premature"; "Once again, however, our best-laid plans went awry." Sure to garner its share of controversy and media attention, this work of history in the making is essential reading for anyone interested in why we are where we are in the Middle East. Maps not seen by PW. (Aug.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Ross was the U.S. government envoy to the Middle East peace process for 12 years, from 1988 to 2001. This memoir, based on his extensive notes and diaries, presents a detailed account of the considerable efforts made to achieve a viable settlement. Many of these efforts were not documented by the press; some were deliberately kept secret. Ross is very frank in pointing out failures and errors of judgment, including his own; neither side is blamed exclusively for the lack of success. While researchers will find this a valuable resource for its firsthand perspective, nonspecialists will likely be overwhelmed by the minute detail and the regular use of first names only when referring to other participants in the negotiations. They may turn instead to Madeleine Albright's recent Madame Secretary, which devotes three chapters to this topic, or to Charles Enderlin's Shattered Dreams, comparably detailed but a journalist's account (based on interviews with the participants) rather than an insider's. For academic and research collections. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 4/15/04.]-Marcia L. Sprules, Council on Foreign Relations Lib., New York (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.



Excerpt from The Missing Peace: The Inside Story of the Fight for Middle East Peace , by Dennis Ross. Copyright (c) 2004 by Dennis Ross. To be published in August, 2004 by Farrar, Straus & Giroux, LLC. All rights reserved. PROLOGUE The End IT WAS JANUARY 2, 2001. Yasir Arafat was due at the White House in thirty minutes, and I was about to go into the Oval Office to brief the President. No matter how many times I had done this, no matter how many times Arafat had come, there was always a sense of anticipation. Each time the objective had been to advance the process, to move the ball down the field. But it was different this time. This time we faced the moment of truth. It was too late to think in terms of process. President Clinton had seventeen days left in office. Now we had to know: Could Yasir Arafat end this conflict? Could he accept the ideas, the proposals, the President had presented ten days ago? Already he had missed the deadline we had sought to impose on both sides for a response to the President's ideas. As usual, Chairman Arafat had equivocated. He had questions. He sought clarification. He wanted further discussions. He hoped that I would meet with the negotiators on each side and clear up misunderstandings, and he even succeeded in getting President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt to make this request to President Clinton. All this in response to an unprecedented set of ideas that would have produced a Palestinian state in all of Gaza and nearly all of the West Bank; a capital for that state in Arab East Jerusalem; security arrangements that would be built around an international presence; and an unlimited right of return for Palestinian refugees to their own state, but not to Israel. The ideas represented the culmination of an extraordinary effort to reach a final Israeli-Palestinian peace deal. Thousands of miles had been covered, figuratively and literally. Thousands of hours of discussions had taken place. And, without exaggeration, thousands of arguments had been made, dissected, and examined in trying to understand what each side could and could not live with. The Clinton ideas were not about what each side wanted; they were about what each side needed. The Clinton ideas were a "first" and a "last." Never before had the United States put a comprehensive set of proposals on the table designed to end the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians--or at least shrink the differences on all the core issues to a point where a final deal could be hammered out quickly. We had come close to doing so in July five months earlier at the Camp David summit. But there, our ideas were not comprehensive--as we presented proposals neither on security arrangements nor on Palestinian refugees. Moreover, the ideas at Camp David were a mix of what Ehud Barak told us he could accept on withdrawal from the West Bank and Gaza and what we thought might resolve the sensitive issue of Jerusalem. Now, while our ideas should have come as no surprise to either side, they represented our best judgment of what each side could accept in the end. We could not do better. Painful concessions were required on each side. Historic myths would have to give way to political necessity and reality on each side--with Israel giving up two core beliefs: that all of Jerusalem, including the Arab neighborhoods of East Jerusalem, would be Israeli, and that the Jordan Valley must never be surrendered. For their part, the Palestinians had to give up the myth of "right of return" to Israel--the animating belief of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and the Palestinian diaspora throughout their history. There could be no more haggling. Discussion within the parameters of the President's ideas was acceptable; trying to redefine these parameters was not. That is what President Clinton had told both Israeli and Palestinian negotiators on December 23, 2000, when he presented the ideas to them. He told them if either side could not accept the ideas, they would be withdrawn and would leave with him when he left office. By December 27, he needed to know whether they were prepared to accept his ideas. Yet here we were on January 2, 2001, having received Barak's affirmative answer on the twenty-seventh, but still not having heard anything but evasions from Arafat. Notwithstanding Arafat's efforts to engage us on "clarifying" the ideas, we had held firm and not done so. But we had also not withdrawn the President's proposal. We had not pulled back from this process, fearing, as we had so often during the Clinton years, that to do so would trigger a crisis, or an explosion, or a serious deterioration into violence. By not pulling back, we continued to keep alive the hope that a final agreement might yet be possible by January 20. By this time, however, I had grave doubts that an agreement remained possible. After all, Arafat was equivocating in circumstances in which there was no more time, at least for Clinton; in which he had the backing for accepting the Clinton proposal from nearly every significant Arab leader, President Mubarak of Egypt, Crown Prince Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, King Abdullah of Jordan, President Ben Ali of Tunisia, and King Mohammad of Morocco; and in which Barak's acceptance of the Clinton ideas would disappear in the near certainty of his looming electoral defeat--a defeat that might only be averted by Palestinian acceptance of the President's ideas and the conclusion of a peace agreement. The stakes were clear and the choices stark, or so they should have been to Yasir Arafat. This was my message to the President as I entered the Oval Office. If Arafat was posturing to try to get more, he had to be told that he was in danger of losing everything, and, I told the President, he must "hear that from you...and he must have no doubts that you have taken it to the limit and this is it." He must hear from you that "you worked your ass off" and presented something that no other U.S. president had ever been willing to propose--namely, a balanced package designed to end the conflict that tilted toward the Palestinians on territory and Jerusalem and tilted toward the Israelis on security and refugees. You had done your best, and there was nothing more you could do. It was now time for the Chairman to decide. In closing, I reminded the President that Arafat never made a decision before he had to. He always waited until one minute to midnight. Unfortunately, I said, it was now three in the morning, and you need an answer in this meeting: Is it yes or no? Anything else, and Arafat was telling you he could not do a final deal, and he must know that is the conclusion you will draw. "I got it," the President said. Excerpted from The Missing Peace: The Inside Story of the Fight for Middle East Peace by Dennis B. Ross All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.