Yossi Alpher's Death Tango: Ariel Sharon, Yasser Arafat and Three Fateful Days in March
"Anyone seeking to understand how Israelis and Palestinians traded the hopes of Oslo for something approaching hopelessness is well-advised to read this book. With penetrating analysis and elegant prose, Yossi Alpher has told the gripping story of three days nearly two decades ago that continue to haunt would-be peacemakers. Yossi’s faithful readers will not be disappointed with his latest effort."
Ambassador Frederic C. Hof, Bard College
"A riveting account of the crucial days in March 2002 when the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was profoundly changed for the worse. The peace camp has never recovered from those wrenching days, and we live now without any hope of a just settlement. Alpher is a highly respected expert who has spent decades studying this conflict from both sides."
Bruce Riedel, Director of the Brookings Intelligence Project
"A critical assessment of a key period in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict never before presented in such detail. The best and most capable players at the executive and political levels proved unable to forge any resolution, final or partial, because both parties continued to maintain an insurmountable gulf between themselves. This is a MUST read for anyone daring to tackle the future of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and of Israel-Arab relations in general."
Efraim Halevy, former Head of the Mossad (1998-2002)
Oraib Khader and Avi Bar-On are youngish Palestinian and Israeli bachelors with security experience, readiness to do business with one another, a shared fondness for women and money, and total cynicism about the lack of peace between their two peoples.
Oraib and Avi can never become true friends: the cultural and political gaps are too wide. But as they confront a failed peace process and a bleak peace future, they readily become business partners: shady business that exploits a lot of naïve international peace aspirations.
As Oraib sums up on a visit to Sarpsborg, Norway, where the ultimately-failed Oslo peace talks were held, “There is a lesson here for those who still doggedly and hopelessly pursue a two-state solution in the Middle East. Get smart. Get out of the Israeli-Palestinian peace business. Step back and let the Jews and Arabs screw one another while making money.”
September 18 2023
Q. This is Netanyahu’s dream coalition: no leftists, few centrists, no Arabs. Nearly all of the 64 coalition MKs are right-wingers, ultra-Orthodox or messianic Jews. Why shouldn’t it last another year?
A. Granted, the advent of a new year, 5784 on the Hebrew calendar, could be seen as simply a convenient excuse to assess this government’s odds for survival. Still, so many cracks have emerged in the coalition’s foundations in recent days, that a look at its staying power appears extremely timely.
Q. What heads your list of threats to coalition unity?
A. Many would say the threat posed by the right-wing messianists led by National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir and Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich. After all, they are constantly taking outrageous pro-settler initiatives and making racist-fascist statements that embarrass Netanyahu (and Israel!) on the global stage and especially in Washington. I disagree, if only because these extremists have no alternative coalition. But more about them below.
In contrast, the Haredi (ultra-Orthodox) factions in the coalition have an alternative. Benny Gantz of National Unity would welcome them into a coalition led by him. Further, the Haredim are accustomed to attaching themselves to whatever coalition needs them and offers to promote a minimum of their needs.
But why would the Haredim bolt the coalition? Well, in their enthusiasm for linking up with right-wing political allies, the Haredim asked for and received commitments to extremely far-reaching and controversial legislative commitments that are not likely to be fulfilled anytime soon.
The Haredi parties would be hard put to remain in a coalition that reneges on its commitments to them; they could not justify this to their constituents. They have already begun hinting that if the Knesset does not pass legislation exonerating their youth permanently from military or equivalent service, they will reconsider their coalition membership. And that legislation is so repugnant even to some Likudniks, that its chances of being enacted any time soon are low.