This work asks some very important questions and comes to some remarkable conclusions. The book comes on the heels of the UN decision to grant Palestine a "non-member observer state" status.
The tagline of the book could simply be "follow the money," as is true in all politics and is especially true in the small state. The author also claims that the Western world only encourages corruption and dysfunction by giving money to the Palestinian on the conditions of participating in the peace process and curbing violence while not considering conditions for a solid government and responsible economic infrastructure.
The author provides a good historical background of the Palestinian Authority (PA) and provides examples of how the leadership failed its people by not developing a political culture and infrastructure that could support a start-up state. While Mr. Schanzer does not absolve Israel of blame, he lays most of it at the feet of the United States and Europe who are, according to the narrative, major contributors to the failure.
The author counts numerous reasons for the failure, first and foremost is at the roots of the PA; a government organization which, in its core, was based on corruption, secrecy, deception and violence. The PA was also centralized around one man, Yasser Arafat, who kept his ministers on a short leash and gave out important positions based on alliances, family and force. Arafat was accountable to no-one and rivers of money flew through his pockets without any oversight.
While the top leaders of the PA have been enriched beyond their dreams, the common man on the street did not see how peace or statehood was benefiting them. That's when Salam Fayyad came into the picture. Mr. Fayyad, finance minister and prime minister, tried sincerely for many years to find assets, account for missing money and bring up the PA to global accounting standards. It is to Mr. Fayyad great credit that many donors and states were reassured by his personal integrity to continue and contribute to the Palestinian cause.
However, as many honest people who are up against a corrupt system find out, Mr. Fayyad's efforts were defeated by the giant wheel of governmental corruption.
The last few pages of the book are devoted to recommendations the author offers to the Palestinian government. Many of the recommendations are obvious (terrorists are not administrators, develop the local economy to replace foreign aid, free press, independent judiciary, right to protest, etc.) None of these exist at the time of publication.
The author ends on a somber note: not until Palestine gets its act together with a functioning government and a working economy will they be able to stand up on their own. Mr. Schanzer makes those points, and more, clear in a well researched, easy to read narrative.