So, an Israeli and a Palestinian walk into a movie theater...

Saeb Erekat, the veteran and colorful Palestinian negotiator, told a good joke at today's Brookings event on Annapolis. It was his way of explaining why we need new negotiations after nearly two decades of failed diplomacy. I'm going to paraphrase it here:

An Israeli and a Palestinian are watching a Western. In the movie, a cowboy is riding bareback on a particularly wild horse. The Israeli, being aggressive, says to the Palestinian, "I'll bet you 10 shekels he falls." The Palestinian, being impulsive, replies immediately, "I'll bet you he doesn't."

The cowboy falls, and the Palestinian forks over 10 shekels. The Israeli, feeling that famous Israeli guilt, refuses them. Then he admits, "I've seen this movie before."

The Palestinian replies, "So have I. But I thought he would learn from his mistake."

Erekat stressed that it's up to Israelis and Palestinians themselves to make a deal work, and he believes it can happen in as little as three months if both parties are willing to make the big decisions. But, as former National Security Advisor Sandy Berger told FP, it's probably going to take a heck of a lot of involvement from U.S. President George W. Bush as well. Find out why in this week's Seven Questions.


The best foreign-policy books of the year


It's that time of the year again, when the steady stream of "year's best" lists start to trickle into your favorite papers and magazines. In case you missed it over the weekend, though, the New York Times released one of my favorites, their "100 Notable Books of 2007."

FP's book review section, In Other Words, looks only at works that have not yet been published in the United States, allowing us to discuss important political and literary conversations outside America's borders. But it's also important to look back at the new U.S. books on foreign policy that have been stirred debate, inspired new ideas, influenced policy, and made people think.

The Times list highlights a few of these from 2007: FP contributor Tim Weiner's Legacy of Ashes, Ishmael Beah's Long Way Gone, Helen Epstein’s The Invisible Cure, and FP contributor Rajiv Chandrasekaran's Imperial Life in the Emerald City, to name just a few.        

But, with so much material this year, it's little wonder the Times couldn't fit all the best books on international affairs in its list. In my humble opinion, there are quite a few excellent foreign-policy books that also shined in 2007:  

What were your favorite foreign-policy books this year? How about the most overrated? Best from outside the States? Send us some suggestions, and we'll put a list together of Passport readers' books of the year. It should make for easy holiday shopping for your favorite student, wonk, or politician.