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A New York Times Notable Book of the Year
"Meet your Enemy Number One," a nervous Norwegian diplomat said to Uri Savir, the young director-general of Israel's Foreign Ministry, as he introduced him to Abu Ala, one of Yasser Arafat's top aides. They were in Oslo, and this was the first official encounter between Israel and the PLO. The atmosphere was tense. Savir read from prepared notes: "The aim of Israel's elected government," he began, "is to bring about a historic reconciliation with the Palestinian people. We have no interest in only a cosmetic change of the status quo. It is not our wish to control your lives. . . "
For more than half a century, both sides had denied the other's right to exist; both had sustained a terrible toll. Yet in the three years that followed that first encounter, after thousands of hours of subtle and complex secret negotiations, they hammered out the blueprint for a peaceful conclusion to a conflict that had seemed irreconcilable. This book is the Israeli chief negotiator's extraordinary account of those negotiations, their implementation and aftermath, and of the unlikely partnership that emerged between Yitzhak Rabin, Yasser Arafat, and Shimon Peres.
As the process initiated at Oslo began to reshape allegiances throughout the Middle East, Israeli and Palestinian extremists set out to violently destroy what they described as "the threat of peace." This is the inside story of the race between those committed to reconciliation and those who vowed to destroy the peace. It is also a poignant story of the developing relationship between Savir and Abu Ala, both from Jerusalem, both committed to their people, to their land, and to peace.
Will the peace process initiated at Oslo prevail against the assault of extremists and enemies of peace on both sides? The answer to this question, and the future of the peace process, is crucial not just to Israel and the Palestinians, but to the Middle East and the world.
PRAISE FOR The Process:
"This is a brilliant book, written by a brilliant man who did a brilliant job. Rarely will you find another individual such as Uri Savir, who combines a unique level of sophistication with an amazing sense of humor. As a writer, he excels in his ability to remain true to the facts and deal fairly with the cast of characters who participated in the making of this piece of history." --Shimon Peres
"Uri Savir's personal account of the Oslo process is a fascinating human story, as well as a major contribution to history. We learn of the initial suspicions that characterized the many meetings between Israelis and their former enemies from the PLO. But we also learn of the mutual respect and friendship that soon developed, and the sense of common commitment to peace that helped them overcome many of the difficult obstacles that inevitably emerged as the negotiators moved from abstract principles to concrete proposals. Above all, this book is a sad reminder of what might have been: a real Arab-Israeli peace anchored in mutual respect, something that now seems quite remote."
--William B. Quandt, Professor of Government and Foreign Affairs, University of Virginia
"Oslo, an extraordinary confluence of hope, hatred, humanity, and tough bargaining, produced a chance for peace in the Middle East. Uri Savir was the key Israeli negotiator there. He tells the true story of what happened like a brilliant novelist." --Leslie H. Gelb, President, Council on Foreign Relations
"A fine piece of diplomatic history... balanced, intelligent and in places intensely moving... It would be hard to imagine a better or clearer account of how matters got to the present point than the one Mr. Savir provides in this book."
--Richard Bernstein, The New York Times
"The Oslo agreements were like no other in history. The Process is an insider's story of how bitter contenders for the same tiny patch of parched land struggled to disintangle their mutual hatreds, grievances and claims... There is another process here, a far deeper and far more human one. This is the process by which the Israelis and Palestinians involved in the intense negotiations -- Rabin, Peres and Arafat included -- gradually rose above their deep resentments and hatreds, above the profound habits of suspicion and mutual demonization, to achieve if not always friendship, then at least a recognititon of a partnership. It is this process that makes Savir's book critical for those -- in Israel and abroad -- who sincerely want to appreciate the real requirements for peace."
--Serge Schmemann, The New York Times Book Review