Kemp and Pressman offer a workmanlike summary of the peace process through mid-1997. Its principal merit is to place the Arab-Israeli conflict within the context of the Middle East's larger troubles. An excellent chapter surveys ten other territorial disputes in the Middle East, most of them around the Persian Gulf, including some long-standing and nasty inter-Arab disputes such as the Saudi-Yemeni and the Bahraini-Qatari. Other topics include the internal stability of each of the Persian Gulf monarchies and the threat of the "outer ring" of rejectionist states (Iran, Iraq, Libya, Sudan) against their immediate neighbors. The connection to Israel could have been drawn sharper, however, with more discussion of the threat of weapons of mass destruction.
The authors show a less sure hand on the core peace process issues. Their lengthy analysis of Israeli hard-liners gives little sense of how much the debate in Israel has shifted, with a solid majority endorsing a de facto Palestinian state—recent disputes within the Israeli cabinet concerned the boundaries of such a state, implicitly recognizing it will exist. They pay altogether too little attention to terrorism and to Israeli objections that the Palestinian Authority is not living up to its side of the Oslo fundamental bargain: autonomy in return for maximum effort countering terrorism. If economic developments receive too heavy emphasis, ideological developments are nearly ignored; the reader learns too little about the attitudes of the various Islamist groups, from where they draw their support, and how much cooperation they engage in across countries.