CHAPTER 18

Israel, the Arab States, and the Palestinians

The 1948 war between Zionists and Palestinians, then between Israel and Arab states, left two unresolved issues. First, although the State of Israel received the recognition of most other states in the world, the surrounding Arab states did not extend it recognition. Indeed, after the initial round of negotiations they refused to sit down with their Israeli counterparts at conferences held to resolve the dispute, and soon after the war the Arab League imposed an economic boycott on Israel. The second unresolved issue was what to do about the problem of the Palestinian refugees.

Israel was unlike most states that emerged in the wake of World War II. It entered into its independence period with a strong heritage of institutions built over the course of the previous half century. Because most of those who opposed the Zionist program — most Palestinians — were no longer there, the fractiousness that divided many emerging states was kept within limits. During its early years it also had access to rent that was unavailable to most other new states in the world. Israel received contributions and investment from Jews from around the globe, reparations from the German government for the Holocaust, then defense aid from France and later defense and non-defense aid from the United States.

Rather than comparing Israel with other states that emerged during the period of decolonization, one Israeli scholar has suggested that it might be more accurate to compare Israel during its immediate post-independence period with the United States during its period of mass immigration, 1880-1920. Immigrants who flooded into Israel in the mid-twentieth century, like immigrants who flooded into the United States thirty to seventy years earlier, found political and economic institutions already intact. While their arrival in such large numbers certainly did modify the existing institutions, immigrants did not have to build those institutions from scratch. Furthermore, they found upon their arrival a political system with established “rules of the game.” In the case of Israel, those rules had pretty much been set by the members of the second and third aliyot, who, along with their descendents, continued to form the aristocracy of Israeli society.

The first ten years of the Israel's existence might be thus considered a period of demographic change and institutional continuity. The demographic change was the result of two factors. Most obviously, there was the flight of the Palestinians. Israel only repatriated a tiny number of the Palestinians who fled after the war — a gesture it made to win the goodwill of the international community. The issue of repatriation and restitution is a complex one that has yet to be resolved. Israel is a Jewish state. In 1950, the Israeli parliament, the knesset, passed the Law of Return guaranteeing Jews from around the world citizenship. Israel could hardly retain its Jewish character if it granted the right of citizenship to large numbers of non-Jews, such as Palestinians.

The problem of repatriation and restitution was made all the more complex by the fact that the Israeli government took over the property abandoned by the Palestinians who had fled and then distributed it to Jewish Israelis. Some Palestinians attempted to reclaim their property by crossing the armistice lines to harvest crops or carry away moveable property to their new homes. Others crossed the lines to commit acts of sabotage or violence. The Israeli government did not differentiate between the two groups. To deal with the problem of “infiltration,” it launched reprisal raids against the states from which the infiltration occurred. In part, the Israeli government adopted this policy to encourage the emergence of the “new Zionist man.” In the words of the first prime minister of Israel, David Ben Gurion, “We must strengthen their [the Israelis'] backs and demonstrate that those who attack them will not get away unpunished, that they are residents of a sovereign state which is responsible for their safety.” The second reason why reprisal was adopted as a policy was that the Israeli government felt that this strategy would induce the Arab states to police their borders more diligently. Obviously, the policy of reprisals did little to endear Israel to its neighbors. In 1953, an Israeli raid into Jordan resulted in sixty-six civilian casualties. In 1955, an Israeli raid into the Gaza Strip, led by future Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon, left thirty-eight Egyptian soldiers dead and about forty wounded. The 1955 raid triggered a cascade of events that culminated in the 1956 Suez War, discussed in Chapter 15.

The other factor that changed the demographic balance of Israel was immigration. During the first four years of Israel's existence, approximately seven hundred thousand new immigrants arrived. This doubled the state's population. Another seven hundred thousand arrived over the next fifteen years. A large number of the new immigrants came from Muslim countries. Some Arab Jews immigrated to Israel at the urging of Israeli Zionists. Others came because they were persecuted at home. For example, beginning in 1947 the Iraqi government passed discriminatory legislation against Iraqi Jews that restricted their freedom of movement and required them to put up a bond if they wanted to leave Iraq. In 1948, discrimination against Jews became systematic in Iraq. There were anti-Jewish riots in Baghdad, probably encouraged by the Iraqi government, Jews were arrested, and Jews who worked for public concerns (ports, railroads, and the like) were dismissed from their jobs. There was even a show trial and execution of a prominent Jewish Iraqi businessman. Most of the Jewish community of Iraq saw the writing on the wall. Over 120,000 Iraqi Jews emigrated to Israel. They joined or were joined by thirty-one thousand Jews from Libya, forty thousand from Yemen, eighty thousand from Egypt, and ten thousand from Syria, among others.

While the Arab states that surrounded Israel never granted it recognition, and while the dismal showing of the Arab states in the 1948 war contributed to the rash of coups d'état that began in the region in 1949, the focus of those states was initially elsewhere. When the Free Officers took power in Egypt, for example, they were too involved in consolidating power, devising land reform and other economic programs, and negotiating the withdrawal of British troops from the Suez Canal Zone to pay Israel much mind. Israel only became an important issue for Nasser after the bloody border incident of 1955 and the 1956 “Tripartite Aggression.” After 1956, Nasser increasingly saw the West in conspiratorial terms — a vision that was not far from the truth. He sought the unity of Arab states against that conspiracy and viewed Israel as an integral part of it. He also viewed Israel as a hindrance to Arab unity. Israel was, as he put it (referring to Israel's shape), a “dagger aimed at the heart of the Arab nation.” The Syrians, who by the early 1960s were involved in escalating battles with the Israelis over the allocation of Jordan River water, concurred.

In the spring of 1967, in solidarity with the Syrians, Nasser ordered the entrance of the Red Sea closed to Israeli shipping. Because this effectively quarantined the southern Israeli port city of Eilat, and because the Israelis (and the Americans) considered that part of the Red Sea an international waterway, the Israelis regarded the Egyptian action as an act of war. On 5 June 1967, Israel launched an attack against its neighbors.

The 1967 war lasted a mere six days and resulted in a resounding defeat for the Arab armies. The Israeli army captured all of Jerusalem (which had been divided between Israel and Jordan since 1948), the West Bank, the Sinai peninsula, the Gaza Strip, and part of Syria (the Golan Heights). The war fundamentally changed the equation of the Arab-Israeli dispute. Before the war, the issue at stake for both Israelis and their Arab neighbors had been the existence of Israel. After the war, the issue at stake was no longer the existence of Israel. Instead, the return of the territories occupied during the hostilities became the overriding concern for the Arab states. For their part, the Israelis demanded recognition and peace settlements as the price for the return of land. The exchange of land for peace— embodied in United Nations Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338—became the basis for all subsequent peace negotiations between Israel and the Arab states. For example, as stipulated by the 1978 Camp David Accords, Israel withdrew from the Sinai Peninsula in exchange for recognition by, and peace with, Egypt.

The exchange of land for peace is a simple formula. Nevertheless, it has been hard to accomplish for four reasons. First, it is (purposely) ambiguous. U.N. Resolution 242 calls for the withdrawal of Israeli forces “from territories occupied during the recent conflict.” The Israelis like to point out that the resolution nowhere states that the Israelis must withdraw from all the territories it occupied. The resolution also calls for the “termination of all claims or states of belligerency and respect for and acknowledgement of the sovereignty, territorial integrity, and political independence of every state in the area and their right to live in peace within secure and recognized boundaries free from threats or acts of force.” The Arab states like to point out that the resolution does not call for formal peace treaties with Israel. They have claimed that they could fulfill the terms of the resolution simply by issuing statements of nonbelligerence.

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Israel and the Occupied Territories after 1967

Then there was the postwar strategy adopted by the Arab states. Soon after the war, the heads of the Arab states met in Khartoum, Sudan, to negotiate a unified position. At Khartoum, Arab leaders decided on the famous “three no's”: no negotiations with Israel, no peace with Israel, no recognition of Israel. Although this seems the height of intransigence, it marked a subtle tactical shift. The Arab states agreed to unify efforts to “eliminate the effects of aggression”—not eliminate Israel. And although they pledged not to negotiate with Israel, they did not pledge not to negotiate. The Arab heads of state instead looked to the superpowers — the United States and the Soviet Union — to resolve the dispute. Since the Soviet Union had broken diplomatic relations with Israel, they counted on the United States to bring the Israelis around. This is how the United States came to hold ”99 percent of the cards" in the region.

This tactic was dangerous for the Arab states because it assumed that the United States so wanted a settlement that it would put pressure on Israel. This assumption was overly optimistic. American politicians are fond of saying that the issue of Social Security is the “third rail” of American politics. What they mean by this is that any politician who touches the issue is bound to get singed. The same might be said about Arab-Israeli politics. Appearances aside, since the 1970s most American presidents have initially avoided getting involved in the issue until circumstances forced them to.

After the 1967 war, the United States was all too willing to sit back and wait for the Arab states to come around. After all, the Arab states wanted their land back and all they had to do to get it back was to sign peace treaties with Israel. To re-engage the Americans, Egypt initiated the so-called War of Attrition against Israel — artillery duels and aerial dogfights across the Suez Canal. Then Egypt and Syria once again launched a war against Israel in October 1973. The October War resulted in eleven to sixteen thousand more Arab and Israeli casualties, was used by Arab members of OPEC as an excuse to hike oil prices, and brought the United States and the Soviet Union to the brink of nuclear war. It certainly caught American attention. At a time when the United States had bigger fish to fry— the United States was still involved in Vietnam, had just opened up relations with China, and had to figure out the intricacies of détente with the Soviet Union — the American secretary of state, Henry Kissinger, was spending his time shuttling between Damascus, Cairo, and Tel Aviv working out minutiae of Israeli and Arab troop redeployments.

The Israelis also contributed to complicating the “land for peace” equation. Immediately after the 1967 war, the Israeli government declared Jerusalem to be Israel's eternal, indivisible capital. Settlers began moving in and the municipal boundaries were extended far into the West Bank. Currently, there are approximately two hundred thousand Jewish settlers in Arab East Jerusalem, and the new municipal boundaries of Jerusalem comprise approximately four percent of West Bank territory. The Israelis also built settlements in the West Bank (called by the Israeli government “Judea and Samaria,” after its biblical name), the Golan Heights, and the Gaza Strip. The first settlements were built along the Jordanian border, ostensibly for security reasons. Then came religious settlers, political die-hards, and those interested in low-cost housing subsidized by the Israeli government. Currently, there are close to three hundred thousand settlers in the West Bank, not including Greater Jerusalem.

Most of the international community considers the settlements to be a violation of international law, specifically the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949, which stipulates that an “occupying power shall not deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies.” By giving tax incentives and other rewards to settlers, it is argued, the Israeli government is encouraging the transfer of population. Before the Reagan administration, the U.S. government called Israeli settlements illegal; until spring 2004 the official American position was that they were “an obstacle to peace.” President George W. Bush shifted American policy once again. In a letter presented to the Israeli prime minister, he declared, ”In light of new realities on the ground... it is unrealistic to expect that the outcome of final status negotiations will be a full and complete return to the armistice lines of 1949.” For the Bush administration at least, settlements were a fait accompli, so it was time to just move on.

In addition to building and populating settlements in the Palestinian territories, the Israeli government has transformed the economy and society of the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Over the course of the occupation, the Israelis linked the West Bank electrical grid and water table to their own. The Israelis also grew dependent on buying labor and agricultural goods from the West Bank and Gaza, while Palestinians in the territories grew dependent on selling both in Israel. Although unskilled Palestinian workers had to go back to their homes in the Palestinian territories every evening, they continued to travel back and forth to Israel daily because jobs were available there and wages and prices for produce were higher in Israel than in the territories. The overall effect of Israeli policies has thus been to make separation that much more difficult and to create a dependent economy in the territories. Whenever the Israelis close the border separating Israel from the Palestinian territories, it brings widespread suffering to the Palestinian population. Beginning with the surge in violence that accompanied the Palestinian uprising in 2000, “closure” became commonplace for the Palestinian inhabitants of the West Bank; beginning in 2006, closure became a fact of life for the inhabitants of the Gaza Strip.

The final problem with the “land for peace” solution is that it reduced the conflict to one between states. There is a non-state actor involved, however: the Palestinians, with whom the Israelis must reach a settlement to end a conflict that is, when all is said and done, between them and the Israelis. Until the 1993

Oslo Accord, the Israelis did not recognize the existence of a Palestinian nation. Nevertheless, such a nation does exist simply because most Palestinians believe that it does and nothing has shaken that belief. Indeed, the idea of Palestinian nationhood has only strengthened over time, largely as a result of the efforts of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO).

The PLO was founded in 1964 at the instigation of Gamal ‘Abd al-Nasser, who wanted to maintain control of the Palestinian movement. It was initially led by a fairly worthless career diplomat, Ahmad Shuqairy, whose dubious contribution to the Palestinian cause was to proclaim on the eve of the 1967 war that the Arabs would “push the Jews into the sea.” In the wake of the 1967 war, Yasir Arafat was chosen leader of the PLO by its main representative body. He led it until his death in 2004.

Arafat was born in Jerusalem (according to his story) or Cairo in 1929. He came of age during the early 1950s, the golden age of Arab anti-imperialism and secular Arab nationalism. Arafat's ideas were well within the anti-imperialist and secular nationalist mold. But early on Arafat differed from many of his cohort in a fundamental way. According to an associate who knew him then,

Yasser Arafat and I knew what was damaging to the Palestinian cause. We were convinced, for example, that the Palestinians could expect nothing from the Arab regimes, (which were in 1951) for the most part corrupt or tied to imperialism, and that they were wrong to bank on any of the political parties in the region. We believed that the Palestinians could rely only on themselves.

Thus, as early as the 1950s, we see the two elements that made the politics of Yasir Arafat and his closest colleagues distinct from the politics of many other politically savvy Palestinians: the idea that the Palestinians themselves, not established Arab states, would have to be responsible for the liberation of Palestine, and the idea that Palestinians would have to form their own organizations that cooperated with, but were independent of, established states and parties in the region. Arafat himself founded one such organization, the guerilla group Fatah, which was to become the largest and most influential group within the PLO. The 1967 war bore out Arafat's skepticism about the ability of the Arab states to liberate Palestine. Over the course of the 1970s, the PLO accompanied its diplomacy with spectacular acts of terrorism to assert Palestinian claims, inflict casualties on the Israeli enemy, and demonstrate to the world that the Palestinian issue would not go away. It didn't: In 1974, the Arab States and the U.N. General Assembly recognized the PLO as the “the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people.”

Under Arafat, a fairly durable group of leaders from the largest guerilla groups dominated the PLO. The fact that the PLO has been a coalition of these and other groups has made change in strategy and objectives slow and difficult. Nevertheless, such changes have taken place. Initially, the PLO advocated the liberation of all of Palestine. In 1977, the PLO began advocating the establishment of a Palestinian ministate in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. At first, some PLO leaders asserted that this ministate would-be a temporary condition, until all Palestine could be liberated. In time, the PLO leadership accepted the fact that this ministate would be the best they could hope for. Thus, in 1993 the PLO agreed to participate in a Palestinian Authority (PA) governing the Palestinian territory from which Israeli forces withdrew. Between 1994 and 2006, Arafat's own Fatah, now acting as a political party, dominated the PA.

In spite of the efforts of the PLO to keep the Palestinian issue up front in international politics, the dispute between Israelis and Palestinians continued to be defined as a dispute among states during the period stretching from 1948 to 1993. All this changed with the Oslo Accord of 1993, which transformed the dispute back to one between two peoples.

The Oslo Accord and the subsequent Oslo II Agreement consisted of two components: an exchange of letters of mutual recognition and more concrete proposals to establish Palestinian rule in the territories. The exchange of letters was significant for both the Palestinians and Israelis. For the Palestinians, mutual recognition meant that the establishment of an independent Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip was all but inevitable. Just how big that state would be, and just how independent it would be, would be determined by circumstances. For the Israelis, the fact that the Palestinians accorded them recognition meant that the close to 80 percent of Palestine that they had won in the 1948 war was forever removed from the bargaining table. While other aspects of the Oslo process have been suspended or failed, this exchange of letters changed the nature of the dispute forever.

Oslo was born of desperation. Palestinians signed on to the accord because life under Israeli occupation had been difficult and the conditions in the Palestinian territories were deplorable. By 2000, unemployment in the Gaza Strip had reached over 40 percent and the territory had become the most densely populated area on earth. To make matters worse, the PLO had been chased out of Jordan (1970) and Lebanon (1983), only to end up in far-off Tunisia. Beginning in the early 1990s, the PLO's dominance over the Palestinian national movement was being challenged by Islamic groups — the most important of which was Hamas — based in the Palestinian territories. The PLO desperately needed a political breakthrough to maintain its leadership of the Palestinian national movement. (Although the PLO achieved that breakthrough, it did not, in the end, maintain its leadership: In January 2006, after the breakdown of the Oslo process and widespread Palestinian disillusionment with PLO governance, Hamas defeated the PLO handily in parliamentary elections.) In addition, because of the end of the cold war and its support for the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait in 1990, the PLO could no longer count on East Bloc or Gulf Arab financial and diplomatic assistance. For their part, since 1987 the Israelis had confronted a seemingly interminable insurgency in the Palestinian territories known as the intifada (currently known, regrettably, as the “firstintifada”). Many Israelis longed for a “normal” existence and anticipated the economic benefits of peace in the post-cold war “age of globalization.”

But Oslo was based on the premise that trust between the two peoples would slowly build so that by the end of the Oslo process they could tackle the most difficult issues, such as Jerusalem and the Palestinian right of return to Israel. Trust was never built. Israelis blame Palestinian terror. They halted the entire process in 2000 after Palestinians launched a second intifada which was far bloodier than the first. Almost four hundred Israelis died in a Hamas-led campaign of suicide bombings. Palestinians, on the other hand, blame Israeli intransigence and bad faith. During the Oslo process, they argue, the number of settlers in the Palestinian territories doubled. New settlements were built and “bypass roads” connecting those settlements to each other and to Israel ensured that the territory of a future state would be divided by ribbons of asphalt off-limits to Palestinians. And land confiscations continued, as did the destruction of Palestinian homes and orchards by the Israeli army.

With the concrete proposals of Oslo going the way of the Rhodes Talks, the Palestine Conciliation Commission, the Johnston Plan, the Rogers Plan, the Rogers Initiative, the First Geneva Conference, the Second Geneva Conference, the 1978 Framework for Peace in the Middle East, the Schultz Plan, the Reagan Plan, and the Madrid Conference, the government of Israel began preparations to break the deadlock. In 2002, Israel began construction of a separation barrier — a series of walls, fences, and trenches that in some places stretched far into the West Bank. While the Israeli government argued that it was building the barrier to prevent Palestinian suicide bombers from infiltrating into Israel, Palestinians, along with much of the international community and many Israelis, feared otherwise. By building the barrier, they believed, Israel was taking the first step toward abandoning negotiations forever and drawing its final boundaries unilaterally. These fears seemed to be realized when Israel withdrew settlements from the Gaza Strip and drew up plans to consolidate its settlements in the West Bank. By the summer of 2006, a final resolution of the Israel-Palestine conflict, unilaterally imposed by Israel on Israeli terms, seemed a done deal. Then cross-border raids and rocket attacks launched by Hamas in Gaza and Hizbullah in Lebanon demonstrated to a majority of Israelis that such a resolution would not ensure their security.

The short-lived Israeli experiment with unilateralism was over. This did not, however, mean that time was yet ripe for the only other practicable course of action: a settlement reached through bilateral negotiations. (The third option that has been suggested — a single democratic state uniting Palestinians and Israelis — is so implausible that it could only have come from feelings of deep despair.) In 2007, Hamas took control of the Gaza Strip, severing it from the Fatah-controlled West Bank. For the first time since 1964, the Palestinian nation was without a “sole, legitimate representative” which could negotiate on behalf of all Palestinians. In Israel, the power of political hardliners and the settler movement to make or break coalition governments made compromise virtually impossible. In 2009, for example, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu seemingly caved under American pressure and announced to the world that he was ready to negotiate — but only if Palestinians accept the fact that Jerusalem is Israel's indivisible capital and not up for negotiation; that no Palestinian refugees would return to Israel; and that Israel is a Jewish state (a slap in the face to the 20 percent of Israel's population that is Palestinian and a coup de grace to the Palestinian demand for their right of return). Once Palestinians agreed to these stipulations, he declared, Israel would accept the formation of a Palestinian state with temporary borders, so long as that state is disarmed and Israel retains control over borders and airspace. Finally, in an act that can only be described by the Yiddish word chutzpah, Netanyahu laid out the final requirement that Palestinians had to meet: If they want to negotiate with Israel, Palestinians must come to the bargaining table without any preconditions. And thus it was that the conflict once again settled into a stalemate.

The fact that a stalemate has been the best that has been achieved from the Oslo process calls into question the very possibility of resolving the Israel-Palestine conflict. And there is reason for skepticism: The Israel-Palestine conflict is the longest running nationalist conflict still in play. Three factors have contributed to the conflict's longevity. First, the creation of Israel took place in the mid-twentieth century, as opposed to the mid-nineteenth century or earlier. In previous centuries it was possible for settlers simply to eradicate indigenous peoples when they proved troublesome, without a sense of wrongdoing or censure from the international community. Second, more than four decades of the Israel-Palestine conflict — from 1948 to 1991—took place during the cold war. The superpowers viewed the conflict as just one more front in a global battle, and both the Soviet Union and the United States attempted to manipulate it to gain tactical advantage in that battle. Finally, the conflict has gone on so long and has been so difficult to resolve not only because it has been shaped by the antagonists, but because it has shaped them as well.

Like all nationalisms, both Zionism and Palestinian nationalism defined themselves in relation to what they opposed. Early Zionist settlers saw their mission as establishing an outpost of civilization within a land inhabited by primitives. The Zionist settler — with rifle in one hand and plow in the other — became their heroic ideal and the center of a national cult. Palestinian nationalism reflects its “other” in like manner. After all, had it not been for Zionism, Palestinian nationalism would have evolved along the lines of Syrian or Iraqi nationalism — had it evolved at all. But beliefs are only part of the problem. The conflict has also encouraged the emergence of the distinct institutions, social organization, and patterns of behavior within each community that have kept the conflict alive. Since the days of Ben Gurion, the Israeli state has depended on foreign aid and private contributions to maintain itself as a “national security state.” The Israeli state has used Israeli law to legitimate settlement activity and the appropriation of Palestinian property, and the government has constructed special institutions to oversee the same. For its part, the PLO, taking its cue from the FLN of Algeria, built its own cult around armed struggle and heroic guerilla fighters. It thus injected violence into the very DNA of Palestinian political culture. At the same time, it shirked responsibility for mobilizing the population it represents and building the institutions necessary for a future state.

The conflict has not only shaped the institutions, social organization, and patterns of behavior of Israelis and Palestinians, however. Its traces can be found throughout the region. Over the past sixty years, the conflict has contributed to the militarization of Arab political culture. It has coarsened politics to the extent that even torture and terror could be rationalized. It has led to the destruction of centuries-old Arab Jewish communities. And it has reinforced the tendency for regimes to look for military solutions to political problems. Arab countries have used the permanent state of war as an excuse to divert resources to bloated military budgets and to curtail civil and political freedoms. Finally, there are the lives that have been squandered. From 1948 to the present, Arab states have experienced anywhere from fifty thousand to 125,000 military casualties (there have been about twenty-one thousand Israeli military casualties). Egypt leads the list by far, lending credence to a modern Egyptian proverb: “Iraq is willing to fight for the liberation of Palestine to the last drop of (Egyptian) blood.”

But however distant a final resolution to the conflict currently seems, one should not lose sight of the fact that the terms of the dispute have evolved over time. It is thus possible that resolution may yet be found. The dispute, after all, began as a conflict between Zionist settlers and the indigenous inhabitants of Palestine. After Israel declared its independence and the neighboring Arab states invaded in the spring of 1948, it was transformed from a Zionist-Palestinian dispute to an Arab-Israeli one. The definition of the dispute as one between the Arab states and the Israeli state was confirmed by the 1967 war: In the aftermath of the war, the mantra for those seeking a final resolution to the conflict became “land for peace,” a formula that ignored Palestinian aspirations. Only after the Oslo Accord did the dispute come around full circle, from a conflict between two peoples, to a conflict among states, and finally once again to a conflict between two peoples.

What this means is that if a final resolution to the conflict is in the cards, it will take place under circumstances that are unforeseeable today. After all, who could have predicted in 1948 that thirty years in the future a president of Egypt would so much need to bolster his credentials at home that he would fly to Jerusalem and negotiate with the enemy to do so? Or, for that matter, who in 1977 could have predicted that in just about a decade and a half, events ranging from the onset of a Palestinian uprising to the end of the cold war (!) would converge to induce Israelis and Palestinians to reach an accord? In the end, it is entirely possible that the wounds that afflict the two principals to the conflict, as well as the demands that are held as non-negotiable today, may yet recede in importance tomorrow as shifts in international and regional conditions extend the realm of the possible.

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