Investment in Peace: The Politics of Economic Cooperation between Israel, Jordan and the Palestinians

Article excerpt

Investment in Peace: The Politics of Economic Cooperation Between Israel, Jordan and the Palestinians, by Shaul Mishal, Ranan Kuperman and David Boas. Brighton, UK and Portland, OR: Sussex Academic Press, 2001. xii + 151 pages. Bibl. to p. 160. Index to p. 167. $55.

Reviewed by Sara Roy

Years ago at a private meeting of Palestinian, Israeli, European, and American analysts gathered to discuss the Oslo process, a high ranking World Bank official stated that the key to resolving the Middle East conflict was not to be found in the Arab or Israeli street but in Wall Street. Her argument was essentially the same as the one presented in this book: political stability and peaceful coexistence in the Middle East can only take place by encouraging innovative modes of thinking with respect to economic cooperation (p. xi). Economic cooperation and the tangible benefits that result will build trust, creating a template for political peace. Thus, not only is economic cooperation a critical component of political coexistence, it can and should precede it.

Underlying this argument is the assumption that the 1993 Oslo peace process changed the priorities of the antagonists. The new bureaucratic and economic reality that has formed between Israel and its Arab neighbors has introduced a new dimension into the Arab-Israeli conflict. Whereas until the 1990s the major values motivating the antagonists were issues of territory and security, economic interests of entrepreneurs and nations have now replaced traditional military concerns. The question, however, is whether this new dimension will serve as a stabilizing factor, or will produce a new source of tension that will amplify the older features of the conflict (p. ix).

The book then examines the political and bureaucratic environment that informs economic relations between Israel, Jordan, and the Palestinian Authority in order to identify appropriate strategies for successful economic ventures. And herein lies the book's value. The authors present an interesting and thoughtful discussion of potential ideas (for investing in peace) and the strengths and weaknesses related thereto, particularly with regard to trade regimes, transnational economic cooperation, and regional infrastructure development. They also provide some useful economic data that are presented succinctly and cogently. …