Making Peace with the PLO: The Rabin Government's Road to the Oslo Accord

Making Peace with the PLO: The Rabin Government's Road to the Oslo Accord

Making Peace with the PLO: The Rabin Government's Road to the Oslo Accord

Making Peace with the PLO: The Rabin Government's Road to the Oslo Accord


After decades of branding Yasser Arafat an arch-terrorist, Israel has embraced the PLO leader as a partner for peace. In this study of one of the most extraordinary examples of secret diplomacy in the second half of the twentieth century, David Makovsky, diplomatic correspondent for the Jerusalem Post, explores the personal, domestic, regional, and international factors that led Israel's Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, Foreign Minister Shimon Peres, and other top aides to negotiate the peace accords. Makovsky traces key episodes prior to the breakthrough in Oslo- including Israel's deportation of radical Islamic activists in December 1992 and its retaliation against Hizbollah rocket attacks from south Lebanon in July 1993- and examines their impact on the fateful decisions that led to the remarkable diplomatic achievement. Working from exclusive interviews with dozens of Israeli, Palestinian, American, and Egyptian officials, Makovsky depicts in fascinating detail the intricacies of the Israel-PLO bargaining. He also examines lessons learned about Israeli decisionmaking from the Oslo experience and assesses the influence of the peace treaty between Israel and Jordan on the implementation of the Israel-PLO accord.


The long, tortuous history of the Arab-Israeli and Palestinian‐ Israeli conflicts has witnessed numerous tragic episodes, but rarely a moment as hopeful as the handshake between the leaders of the State of Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization on September 13, 1993. Though other emotions were palpable among the well-wishers and onlookers on the White House lawn that day—including heavy doses of anxiety and trepidation—hope was the most powerful.

Indeed, could that moment have been frozen in time, a century of conflict that has left thousands dead and tens of thousands in mourning would be definitively over. Sadly, however, the conflict lives on and terror still claims the lives of innocents. But the accord signed between Israel and the PLO that day, along with the letters of mutual recognition that accompanied it, reshaped and redefined the conflict in fundamental ways.

This book offers the key element of the story behind that handshake—how and why the leaders of Israel abandoned a policy of rejecting the PLO as a terrorist gang bent on Israel's destruction for a diplomatic approach founded on the belief that the PLO and its longtime leader, Yasser Arafat, were essential partners in the experiment of peacemaking.

Others will no doubt dissect the Palestinian side of the equation. In Making Peace with the PLO, award-winning journalist David Makovsky brings to bear years of experience as a correspondent for the Jerusalem Post and U.S. News and World Report—during which he observed the mechanics of the Rabin government on a daily basis—to analyze and explain the Israeli side of the peace process. Along the way he sheds new light on the often combustible mix of policy, politics, and personalities that defines the Israeli decision-making process.

Through scores of interviews with Israeli, Palestinian, Egyptian, American, and Norwegian officials, Makovsky offers a . . .

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