In an innovative study, two historians of the Arab-Israeli conflict reflect on what their craft can contribute to peacemaking. They reach the depressing conclusion that the tried and true ways lead to failure, and that "the more closely negotiations follow the old patterns, the less likely they are to succeed. Hopes for resolution of this conflict rest on deviating from those patterns."
More specifically, Eisenberg and Caplan find six considerations important to success: parties' motives, timing, high-status negotiating partners, minimal third-party involvement, reasonably similar terms of agreement, and the absence of psychological obstacles. Some of these factors are a function of common sense, others are more subtle; in all, it is good to see them assayed in the balance of historical experience.
Just one error in judgment mars an otherwise sound analysis, namely the authors' tendency toward moral equivalency, implying that the democratic state of Israel is no better or worse that the terrorist organization led by Yasir Arafat or the totalitarian regime headed by Hafiz al-Asad. For example, in one passage, the authors hold that "both Arab and Israeli leaders" struggled with extremist wings of their constituencies—making it seem as though West Bank settlers were the counterpart of Saddam Husayn.