Doomed to Failure? The Politics and Intelligence of the Oslo Peace Process

Doomed to Failure? The Politics and Intelligence of the Oslo Peace Process

Doomed to Failure? The Politics and Intelligence of the Oslo Peace Process

Doomed to Failure? The Politics and Intelligence of the Oslo Peace Process


This ground-breaking book examines how and why the much-vaunted Oslo Peace Accords between the Israelis and Palestinians collapsed. The author analyzes the players on both sides of the accords, pointing out the attitudes and actions that serve to undermine peace and promote conflict. On the one hand, she criticizes the Islamist organizations Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad for not tolerating the idea of any true long-term peace with Israel. On the other hand, she scrutinizes the factions for and against Oslo that developed within Israeli government circles, and she calls into question the ability of Israeli intelligence to correctly assess the Palestinian negotiators. By means of such examination, this book poses a fundamental question: Can Islamic fundamentalism ever accept the existence of Israel or will it short-circuit any prospect of peace between majority-Muslim states and their non-Muslim counterparts?


The Oslo Peace Accord signed in a widely watched ceremony on the lawn of the White House on September 13, 1993 promised to end the century-long conflict between the Jews and the Palestinians and usher in a period of peace in the Middle East. Yet, less than a decade later, after the failure of the Taba talks in January 2001, the peace process collapsed. Although subsequent efforts to revive negotiations included elements of the original plan, they have never amounted to the sweeping vision guiding the Accord, nor have they been successful so far. As such, Oslo peace looms large in the pantheon of Israeli predictive failures and has focused attention on the way in which the country forecasts and manages political change.

Prediction and foreign policy making are closely related. Consciously or subconsciously, policy decisions rest on prediction of a likely course of future events. Henry Kissinger perceived the establishment of a foreign policy with “our ability to perceive trends and dangers before they become overwhelming,” noting that, often, “judgment about the future cannot be proved when [decisions] are made.”

Given the difficulties involved in this dictum, an enormous intellectual effort to identify sources of predictive failures has been conducted since the middle of the twentieth century. Following the pioneering work of Roberta Wohlstetter on Pearl Harbor, a large body of literature has dealt with military-strategic and political-strategic projecting. The traumatic October 1973 War spurred a similar effort in Israel.

While military and political changes focus on different dimensions of international reality, they both are susceptible to the same types of predictive . . .

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