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One of the greatest recent moments in the annals of peace during a century deeply marred by war and its atrocities was the handshake between longtime enemies Yitzak Rabin and Yassir Arafat in Washington, D.C., in 1993. Signifying a new era for the Middle East, the handshake was the public culmination of painstaking negotiations carried out by Shimon Peres, then Foreign Minister of Israel, and Palestinian representatives in Oslo, Norway. For their efforts, Rabin, Peres, and Arafat won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1994.
May, 1998, marks the fiftieth anniversary of the founding of Israel. For the Future of Israel reveals the character of a leader who participated in the birth of his country and whose thoughts remain ever on the future--on the basis and prospects for peace. In five conversations with novelist and former Newsweek correspondent Robert Littell, Peres reflects on his youth in shtetl and kibbutz, the impact of the Holocaust on world affairs, what it means to be a Jew, and the ongoing struggle to end terrorism and forge peace between Israel and its neighbors. Completed in late 1996 and 1997, the interviews reflect the changed state of Israel since the assassination of Yitzak Rabin (after which Peres was named Prime Minister and Defense Minister) and the subsequent election of a Likud-led government in Israel and its renegotiation of aspects of the Oslo agreements.
Peres speaks candidly of his negotiations with Arafat and of his close, complementary relationship with Rabin. Ranging widely over the last fifty years, he ponders the effect of the occupation of the territories on the character of his country. He gives his views on public figures he has known (among them BenGurion, Mitterand, Reagan, Netanyahu, Yeltsin, and Clinton), the qualities of good leadership, and the dangers of fundamentalism and religious parties. He describes his approach to negotiations, one that sharply contrasts with those who believe that the terms of peace must be dictated: "To achieve peace, you cannot impose your position or any position--you have to urge parties to come to a position."He conveys his belief that the future of peace for Israel lies in replacing the unifying force of war with the unifying strength of a constitution and ethics.
This book is Peres' testament to the highest qualities of Israel and a thorough presentation of his deeply considered views on what must be done to preserve the country's spiritual and political aspirations.