South African Parallels to the Palestinian-Israeli Talks
Tomorrow Is Another Country By Allister Sparks
London: Heineman, 1994. 250pp. Local price 65 NIS.

Allister Sparks, a fifth-generation South African, has had a distinguished journalistic career over the past two decades and has won several presti¬gious awards for his writing on South African developments. His book, Tomorrow Is Another Country, which has recently been made into a tele¬vision film - Death of Apartheid - is timely and totally engrossing.
This revealing work reviews the largely unanticipated progress of mainly secret negotiations between leaders of the Afrikaner-dominated white racist regime and leaders of the overwhelmingly non-white African National Congress (ANC).
To everybody's surprise, these talks were to lead to the establishment of a new democratic South Africa, where blacks and whites decided to build a new life together on the basis of full interracial equality.
In 1985, during a period of increasing international isolation and an ongoing economic crisis, initial highly secret contacts were established between the then-South African president, P.W. Botha, and the jailed ANC leader, Nelson Mandela - despite skepticism on both sides. What had pre¬ceded this willingness for talks on the part of the ruling Afrikaners was the major change taking place on the leadership level, as they looked for a way out of their dead-end crisis. Sparks documents this intense reassessment within the Afrikaner inner sanctum, including even the extremist Afrikaner Broederbond, which led to the rejection of Apartheid as an ideology.
This productive, but limited, phase lasted until 1989 when F.W. De Klerk assumed the leadership of the National Party and the presidency. A conservative, he became increasingly pragmatic, and during the five years of his presidency, Nelson Mandela and other ANC leaders were released and negotiations successfully concluded. By the end of 1994, extremist racist forces were crushed, democratic elections held and a new power sharing government established for a five-year period.
While Tomorrow does not relate directly to the Middle East, restricted as it is to South Africa, it can serve as an inspiration for both Israelis and Palestinians. Yet despite the parallelism between the South African and the Israeli-Palestinian situation, what emerges at this stage are some contrasts.
For example, although intermittent secret talks had been going on for a long time on the Israeli-Palestinian front, the "negotiators" on both sides did not, for the most part, represent either the Israeli government or the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) until after Israel's general elec¬tions - with its Labor-led victory.
And though Oslo I (1993) and Oslo II (1995) have been signed, for many in the area, the future is still uncertain. Final status talks are scheduled to begin only in 1996, shortly before Israel's next general election, where again the results are far from assured. Therefore, despite limited progress on the regional peace front, the implementation of the two-state [Israel and Palestine] solution, advocated by most peace-oriented forces in the area, faces indubitable complications.
Nevertheless, it is hoped that in the Israeli-Palestinian context, final sta¬tus talks will not last longer than the five years [1989-1994] it took the last phase of the South African talks to be completed. And as was the case in South Africa, there will ultimately be a peaceful resolution to the Israeli¬-Palestinian conflict, resulting in full cooperation between both former adversaries.
Tomorrow Is Another Country is, therefore, highly recommended reading for all those in the region interested in studying how long-term talks may lead to lasting friendships, and to peaceful resolutions of intricate conflicts.