For seventy years Israel has existed as a state, and for forty years it has honored a peace treaty with Egypt that is widely viewed as a triumph of U.S. diplomacy in the Middle East. Yet the Palestinians—the would-be beneficiaries of a vision for a comprehensive regional settlement that led to the Camp David Accords in 1978—remain stateless to this day. How and why Palestinian statelessness persists are the central questions of Seth Anziska’s groundbreaking book, which explores the complex legacy of the agreement brokered by President Jimmy Carter.
Based on newly declassified international sources, Preventing Palestine charts the emergence of the Middle East peace process, including the establishment of a separate track to deal with the issue of Palestine. At the very start of this process, Anziska argues, Egyptian-Israeli peace came at the expense of the sovereignty of the Palestinians, whose aspirations for a homeland alongside Israel faced crippling challenges. With the introduction of the idea of restrictive autonomy, Israeli settlement expansion, and Israel’s 1982 invasion of Lebanon, the chances for Palestinian statehood narrowed even further. The first Intifada in 1987 and the end of the Cold War brought new opportunities for a Palestinian state, but many players, refusing to see Palestinians as a nation or a people, continued to steer international diplomacy away from their cause.
Combining astute political analysis, extensive original research, and interviews with diplomats, military veterans, and communal leaders, Preventing Palestine offers a bold new interpretation of a highly charged struggle for self-determination.
Awards and Recognition
- Winner of the BAJS Book Prize, British Association for Jewish Studies
"This splendid book by a young American Jewish scholar is the product of an early emotional and intellectual transformation . . . His combination of original research and personal fearlessness has produced one of the most compelling works of political and diplomatic history I have ever read . . . Anziska has made a major contribution to the history of this conflict."—Charles Kaiser, The Guardian
"[A] deeply researched book…. With access to declassified memos and documents scattered around the world by a succession of shattered peace processes, [Anziska] pieces together a single moment in which the seeds for a diminished Palestinian state were laid."—Mehul Srivastava, Financial Times
"A deeply insightful and profoundly disturbing book."—James J. Zogby, Jordan Times
"An important corrective to the conventional historiography of the period. . . . It will benefit anyone trying to follow the path to today's bleak impasse."—Ian Black, Middle East Centre Blog, London School of Economics
"The book must receive the credit it deserves. Anziska did a very good research job and has collected and pieced together an enormous amount of information, including information derived from newly-declassified American and Israeli records, some of which even an avid consumer of books related to the Middle East peace process like me has not previously seen."—Joel Singer, Fathom
"Preventing Palestine is a powerful and at times shocking book that sets the new standard for future work on the peace process after 1975. It is indispensable reading for all students of U.S.-Middle East relations and the history of the Arab Israeli conflict."—Paul Thomas, H-Diplo
"Preventing Palestine is a fine work of revisionist historiography on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and its evolution."—Lorena De Vita, Diplomatica
"Preventing Palestine is an important book for its revisionist interpretation of MiddleEast peacemaking between 1977 and 1993."—Aharon Klieman, Israel Journal of Foreign Affairs
“In Israel’s animated political discourse, the Camp David Accords are universally acclaimed while the Oslo Accords are bitterly debated between Left and Right. In this perceptive, thoroughly researched book, Seth Anziska reveals the strong connection between the two agreements and the extent to which Oslo drew on Camp David’s autonomy plan. Preventing Palestine is mandatory reading for understanding the complexities and ironies of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”—Itamar Rabinovich, author of Yitzhak Rabin: Soldier, Leader, Statesman
“Preventing Palestine is an essential account of a reality obscured by hostile political agendas and unabashed bias. Seth Anziska uncovers the complex forces that have prevented Palestinian statehood and contributed to the destructive dynamic on the ground. With searing honesty, he traces the failures of the so-called Palestinian-Israeli peace process and describes the result: the tragic injustice inflicted on the people of Palestine. This is a historical revelation of enormous magnitude.”—Hanan Ashrawi, member of the PLO Executive Committee
"Seth Anziska's book illuminates a crucial chapter in Middle Eastern history and U.S. foreign policy, and shows how the breakthrough peace agreement between Egypt and Israel created a roadblock to peace between Israel and the Palestinians. The breadth and depth of Anziska's research is remarkable."—Gershom Gorenberg, author of The Accidental Empire: Israel and the Birth of the Settlements, 1967-1977
“Preventing Palestine is a must-read for understanding why a two-state solution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict hasn’t been achieved. The book provides an objective and foreboding picture of a political reality where a people's rights are marginalized by a brazen military power unchecked by international order and largely supported by the United States. This is a story of Israel's success, but one that paradoxically leaves it facing its ever-more-assertive existential nemesis.”—Sari Nusseibeh, author of Once Upon a Country: A Palestinian Life
"Anziska’s meticulous research and compelling analysis of the unexpected continuity that runs throughout the turbulent years of Israeli-Palestinian peacemaking makes this book invaluable for expert and layperson alike."—Gershon Shafir, author of A Half Century of Occupation: Israel, Palestine, and the World's Most Intractable Conflict
“Probing deep causes, Preventing Palestine vividly recounts the drive by Palestinians to achieve national self-determination and a parallel effort by Israelis to thwart that movement. We already know the outcome of the contest (at least so far), but Seth Anziska’s story is gripping nonetheless. And highly revealing: for the author also lays bare the willingness of Americans and even Egyptians to go along with the Israeli campaign. Anziska transforms our understanding of recent Middle Eastern history.”—Salim Yaqub, University of California, Santa Barbara
“Brilliantly conceived and researched, Preventing Palestine joins a very short list of essential works on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and on U.S. relations with the Middle East.”—Bradley Simpson, University of Connecticut