About a year ago, the New York Review of Books devoted its pages to an interesting exchange on the question of who was to blame for the collapse of the Camp David peace talks between Barak and Arafat, presided over by Clinton. This was — and still is — not a purely historical issue: what happened at Camp David has a direct bearing on the present and future of Israeli–Palestinian relations. The exchange in the NYRB, however — on one side, an interview with Barak by the Israeli historian, Benny Morris; on the other, a ‘Reply to Ehud Barak’ by Robert Malley and Hussein Agha — was principally concerned, above all on the Barak–Morris side, with clearing one or other of the participants in the aborted talks of responsibility for their failure. In doing so, the debate became decontextualized, avoiding wider discussion of what really went wrong and why, and concentrating instead on the interpersonal dynamics that developed at Camp David and the psychologies of the major players. The tragic outcome of the June 2000 negotiations was the widespread Western and Israeli acceptance of Barak’s declaration that his ‘most generous offer’ was rejected due to mysterious reasons of Arafat’s—the ultimate proof that Israel has ‘no partners’ among the Palestinians for peace-making. This fateful ‘conclusion’ helped trigger the Palestinian uprising of September 2000; and the combination of Barak’s assertion with the intensification of Palestinian attacks against Israeli civilians within the Green Line resulted in the collapse of the Israeli peace camp and Ariel Sharon’s two landslide electoral victories.
In the course of that dreadful aftermath, and especially following Deborah Sontag’s ‘revisionist’ descriptions of the Camp David summit, set out in the New York Times in July 2001, and Malley and Agha’s initial NYRB piece in August 2001, ‘A Tragedy of Errors’, Barak—a politician aspiring to a comeback: if Sharon could, it seems anything is possible—clearly felt that he owed something to the Israeli people and the world at large. To that end, he recruited a noted historian and chose, with the New York Review, the most respectable of American forums in which to construct his face-saving version of the story. That scholars of such calibre can so easily be employed to further the public-relations aims of politicians is deeply regrettable; but the Barak–Morris piece was certainly effective. Prior to the Camp David talks, Barak and Clinton had agreed that every move would be coordinated in advance between the United States and Israel; and that if the summit failed, Israel would not take the blame. Clinton stood by this, as did most of his subordinates. The exception was Malley, the President’s Special Assistant for Arab–Israeli Affairs during the negotiations, who came out with his own, fairly devastating account of Barak’s strategy, and apportioned blame for the failure between all three sides. Nevertheless, with the support of both Morris and Dennis Ross, Clinton’s point-man for dealing with the Palestinians (employed today as director of a hawkish, pro-Israeli research institute), and through numerous personal articles and appearances, Barak has succeeded in convincing most of the American public of the validity of his ‘no partner’ claim.
Still more important for Barak, however, was to explain himself before the annals of Israeli history. For this purpose he recruited the services of Ran Edelist, a well-known journalist specializing in military-intelligence stories, whose 500-hundred-page tome recounts the story of Barak’s brief tenure, from his assumption of office in July 1999 to his ouster in February 2001. Fighting the Demons is virtually a daily chronicle of these months, closely following the Prime Minister’s appointments diary, detailing his conversations—significant and otherwise—and innumerable trips abroad. It is also replete with philosophical and historiographic monologues, and the not-so-very-deep insights of Barak the man. Nevertheless, it is a more interesting document than might have been expected, or intended. Although most of the book was apparently penned in close collaboration with Barak, something clearly changed during the writing process. A careful reader will detect that, at a certain point, Edelist’s path diverges from his hero’s. Despite Barak’s regular interjections, and without ever quite admitting it, the work offers an interpretation closer to that of Malley and Sontag — or of other critical accounts, such as Yossi Beilin’s 1999 Touching Peace, or even that of Barak’s close aide, Gilad Sheer, in his 2001 Just Beyond Reach — than to the Barak–Morris narrative.
Edelist does not scant the ‘problematic’ aspects of Barak’s character: his personal insensitivities, chronic suspicion, bullying, hierarchical approach and difficulties with working in a team or consulting advisors are, in any case, already well known to the Israeli public. Edelist’s contribution, however, is to explain that all Barak’s weaknesses are compensated by his exceptional gifts: dazzling intelligence, personal integrity, strategic understanding, global outlook, physical courage and resilience. Also praised are his resolute defence of the national interest over any merely personal or party concerns, precision skills (clock-repairing is a hobby), musical talent (piano), grasp of nuance and ability to take tough decisions after meticulously weighing the costs. In short: a national and, indeed, world leader of a stature that Israel has not seen since David Ben-Gurion. The only contemporary comparison — though Barak has criticisms even of him — is Clinton. A man of such qualities, Edelist declares at the outset of his book, did not stand a chance. Barak failed not because of his flaws but because of his sterling strengths. The Israeli people were not mature enough for such a leader.
Fighting the Demons is full of carefully chosen biographical nuggets — especially emphasized is a humiliating childhood on the Mishmar Hasharon kibbutz, which impelled Barak to become the most successful child of all — but, despite its pretensions, the book comes nowhere near real biography. Born in 1942, Barak was drafted into the army at the age of seventeen and worked his way up through a succession of elite units, command and General Staff positions. Deputy Commander of the Israeli invasion force in Lebanon in 1982, promoted Head of the Military Intelligence Branch the following year and Chief of Staff in 1991, Barak’s career has also been marked by his personal participation in various brutal death-squad activities, selectively surveyed by Edelist. In the 1973 ‘Operation Springtime of Youth’ Barak, dressed as a woman, led a raid on a plo group in Beirut, implicated in the 1972 Munich Olympics murder of Israeli athletes; the attack killed the head of Fatah’s intelligence as well as his wife, who tried to shield him. In 1988, according to the New York Times, Barak circled overhead in a Boeing 707 as Israeli commandos assassinated Arafat’s deputy, Abu Jihad, in Tunis, in front of his wife and children; though this has always been denied by the Israeli government and Edelist makes no mention of the event. Barak was also responsible for ordering the advance during the 1982 Lebanon War into the ambush at Sultan Yaacub — covered up by the military until 1994, and absent from Edelist’s book — as well as for the ‘training accident’ at the Tzeelim base in the Negev Desert in 1991, involving a rehearsal for a landing in Iraq in order to liquidate Saddam Hussein. A missile landed among a group of soldiers, killing five and wounding seven others. Barak is accused of having scrambled into his helicopter before any of the wounded could be evacuated and fleeing to Tel Aviv. Under Yitzhak Rabin he served as Minister of the Interior from July to November 1995, and Minister of Foreign Affairs from then until June 1996.
Nevertheless, after the Netanyahu years Barak’s election as prime minister in 1999 kindled real hope among certain sectors of the Israeli population and profound anxieties among others—chiefly the Jewish settlers in the Occupied Territories and the ultra-Orthodox, alarmed by his campaign promises to ‘separate religion from politics’ and institute conscription among yeshiva students. His victory was warmly welcomed among Israeli Arabs (more than 90 per cent of whom voted for him), Palestinians, leaders of the Arab states—in particular, Mubarak in Egypt and Abdullah ii in Jordan—and the rest of what is known as the Western world.
Barak, however, had an agenda and priorities of his own. It is true that he faced difficulties in tying together left and right blocs in the Knesset; but it is doubtful that this was the reason he established a government that included the chauvinistic National Religious, Yisrael B’Aliyah and Shas parties, alongside the centre-left Meretz. ‘I am closer to Yitzhak Levy [of the NRP] than to Yossi Sarid [of Meretz],’ Barak declared. He would have preferred to form a government with Likud, headed by Sharon, for whom he entertained a great admiration following their joint military endeavours. From the outset, the support of the ‘Jewish parliamentary majority’ was more important to him than that of Israeli Arabs; though he acknowledged the latter’s distress and pledged to strive for their ‘full equality’, this would only be sought after a final settlement with the Palestinians had been agreed. The essence of Barak’s approach, however, as distinct from Rabin’s, was demonstrated by his decision to freeze implementation of all interim agreements with the Palestinians arising from the Oslo–Wye accords—among them a partial redeployment of Israeli troops on the West Bank; Palestinian control over three villages near Jerusalem; the release of pre-1993 prisoners—in favour of a comprehensive, permanent-status settlement. (The only exception was the opening of a main road in Hebron, after considerable delay.)
Instead, Barak chose to make agreement with Syria his first priority. There were two reasons for this: firstly, such an accord looked relatively simple, compared to the emotionally loaded negotiations with the Palestinians; less explicitly, Barak foresaw that isolating the Palestinian leadership in this way might force them to agree to sign on to a final settlement on his terms. When the Shepherdstown talks with Syria foundered over a few metres of land along the water’s edge, due for demilitarization in any case — Barak’s hesitation here probably caused by anxiety over Syrian access to the Kinneret Lake, Israel’s main water reservoir — Barak decided to withdraw from Lebanon without an agreement, despite the opposition of his chiefs of staff: the sole accomplishment of his premiership. It was only then, in the summer of 2000, when the end of Clinton’s tenure (and, in retrospect, his own) was drawing near, that Barak finally found time to hold talks with the Palestinians.
Meanwhile, the Palestinian leadership had been begging for concessions — especially the release of prisoners, the most painful issue for their people — to ease the pressure on it from below. On the one hand, the pa was expected to behave ‘like Ben-Gurion in the Altalena affair’, ordering an Etzel underground weapon ship to be sunk in 1948; a command that caused uproar among the Jewish population. On the other, it was unable to provide its people with any sign of success. The Intelligence Services warned of a weakening of the pa’s control and a strengthening of Hamas and the Islamic Jihad; Barak insisted that there would be no release of prisoners ‘with blood on their hands’ or territorial ‘concessions’ until a final status agreement had been reached. Before he was elected, Barak once said that he understood the Palestinians; that if he were one of them, he would join a terrorist organization. This, of course, immediately caused an uproar and Barak was forced to insist that he had been misconstrued, his remarks taken out of context, and so on. After reading Edelist’s book, one can believe him. He does not have, and has never had, any ability to empathize either with his adversaries or with his friends. This is without doubt one of the reasons for the failure of his negotiations with both Assad and Arafat and for his poor relations with fellow Israeli politicians, including members of his own party.
For by the summer of 2000, the seeds of mutual mistrust between Arafat and Barak had already been sown. Though the central negotiations conducted at Camp David were preceded by innumerable talks at all levels, these were unproductive. Arafat was opposed a priori to Barak’s approach — a freeze on the third, more extensive troop withdrawal and other previous Israeli commitments, and transition to talks on the conditions for a final comprehensive settlement — and still had nothing to display to an increasingly restive Palestinian populace as fruit of the Oslo accords. Yet because all the cards were in Israel’s hands, Arafat had no alternative but to agree to take part in Camp David.
The Israeli proposal, as transmitted to Clinton, was quite detailed. On territory, the Palestinians were to be offered 80:20 — that is, 80 per cent of the West Bank and Gaza Strip would be under the control and sovereignty of the Palestinian state; 20 per cent would be annexed to Israel, including seven settlement blocs which comprised around 80 per cent of the Jewish settler population; a viaduct would be built to link the Gaza Strip and West Bank. Earlier, the possibility of Israel holding a long-term lease on an additional 10 per cent of the West Bank along the Jordan Valley, ‘for security reasons’, had also been discussed. Later it would be argued that keeping the river under Israeli control was important mainly for Jordan, anxious about Palestinian irredentism and the possible unification of the two banks. The right of return would be recognized only with respect to the Palestinian state; while Israel would help in the rehabilitation of the refugees, it would not acknowledge any moral or legal responsibility for the creation of the problem. The municipal boundaries of Jerusalem would be expanded — apparently to include the annexation of Abu Dis, Azariya and a few other villages — so there would, nominally, be something to share. The intention was to leave most of the current area of the city under Israeli sovereignty; the additional territory would be sold to the Palestinians as their ‘Jerusalem’. A bypass road would then be paved around East Jerusalem to allow worshippers to reach the holy shrine of Haram al-Sharif, the Islamic ‘Noble Sanctuary’ and Jewish Temple Mount.
It should be recalled that the Palestinians, from their perspective, had already made the ultimate concession, and thus were without bargaining chips. In the Oslo agreements, they had recognized Israel’s right to exist in 78 per cent of historical Palestine in the hope that, following the peace agreements with Egypt and Jordan —and on the basis of the Arab interpretation of UNSC Resolutions 242 and 338, which call for withdrawal from territories occupied in 1967 — they might recover the remainder, with minor border adjustments. Yet —although later there was a certain slackening of Israeli demands—talk continued concerning annexation of another 12 per cent or so of the West Bank in order to create three settlement blocs, thus dividing the Palestinian state into separate cantons, with the connections between them very problematic. The Palestinians called the portions allotted to them bantustans; but the original enclaves created by the Afrikaners for South African blacks were far better endowed than those of Barak’s ‘generous’ proposal.
Is it any wonder, then, that Arafat, who was aware of the coordinated American–Israeli position, was brought unwillingly to the summit? Even Edelist’s book indirectly supports Sontag’s argument, that ‘the Palestinians felt that they were being dragged to the verdant hills of Maryland to be put under joint pressure by an Israeli prime minister and an American president who, because of their separate political timetables and concerns about their legacies, had a personal sense of urgency.’ The Palestinians said they had been repeatedly told by the Americans that the Israeli leader’s coalition was unstable; after a while, they said, the goal of the summit meeting seemed to be as much about rescuing Mr Barak as about making peace. These were the reasons that most of the Palestinian delegation decided in advance to adopt a futile ‘bunker strategy’ of automatically refusing any proposal.
Arafat’s suspicions were confirmed when the short-fused Clinton launched a crude attack on him, impugning his honour. On another occasion, when the delegations got swept up into an argument over whether the remains of the Temple were indeed buried beneath the Al-Aqsa Mosque, it was the Protestant Clinton who gave a sermon on Solomon’s Holy Temple according to the Bible. One of the president’s Jewish aides intervened to save the embarrassing situation, commenting that this was the President’s personal opinion and did not reflect the official position of the United States. In his account of the Camp David meetings, Barak’s Foreign Minister Shlomo Ben-Ami has remarked that this episode reflects the extent to which Arafat was a prisoner of his own myths; what the incident really shows is the extent to which each side was sunk in myths of its own. This is apparently the chief reason why the talks ultimately fell apart over the status of the Temple Mount, despite the fact that the Palestinians had already agreed to a division of the city and Israeli sovereignty over the Western Wall, in exchange for control over the rest of the area of the mosque and the Arab neighbourhoods.
During the course of the talks Barak did indeed agree to be ‘flexible’ about the Israeli proposals on the various issues, and was close to a territorial concession of over 92 per cent. But each proposal, and each issue, was discussed individually; and it was stressed that, until everything had been agreed upon, nothing was agreed. Thus the Palestinians were made discrete offers in many different areas, mainly out of the certainty that all would be rejected outright regardless, while the Palestinians — or so it was reported at the time — did not make any counter-proposals. Afterward, Barak could group together all the separate instances and claim that he had made an incomparably generous offer to the Palestinians.
When the summit failed, and with the remnants of his government now coming to pieces, Barak made his fateful declaration that there was ‘no partner’ on the Palestinian side. Clinton—also out of a decidedly personal interest — was true to his promise and backed him up. There were further so-called ‘non-talks’ and ‘non-papers’ in Taba where, according to some sources, the parties came closer to agreement than ever before. As far as Barak and Arafat were concerned, however, the game at Camp David was over. From that episode to armed conflict was just a question of time.
After seven years of futile talks that had failed to make any significant advance in the Palestinian cause—accompanied by the intensification of the Jewish colonization process in the Occupied Palestinian Territories—the question was not whether but when the anger and violence would erupt, and in what form. The Palestinians were not entirely unaware of the asymmetry in the power relations with Israel, but they changed the paradigm. From an attempt to end the occupation and achieve independence that relied upon diplomatic efforts and depended on the kindness of the Jews and Americans, they moved on to a ‘war for independence’, fuelled in part by religious emotions; the type of struggle in which the people are prepared to pay a high personal and collective price in order to achieve what they see as a paramount objective.
In this respect, Sharon’s provocative visit to the Temple Mount in 2000 was only the match that ignited the stores of fuel that Peres, Netanyahu and Barak had each amassed in turn. Barak had paved the way for Sharon’s victory in February 2001 with an unprecedented 52 per cent of the vote—a shift historically reinforced by the general election of January 2003, in which the right-wing bloc secured 69 out of 120 Knesset seats, and Sharon became the first Israeli Prime Minister to win a second term since Menachem Begin in 1981.
Under Sharon, Israel has become a state oriented towards one major goal: the politicide of the Palestinian people. Politicide is a process whose ultimate aim is to destroy a certain people’s prospects—indeed, their very will—for legitimate self-determination and sovereignty over land they consider their homeland. It is, in fact, a reversal of the process suggested by Woodrow Wilson at the end of the First World War and since then accepted as a standard international principle. Politicide includes a mixture of martial, political, social and psychological measures. The most commonly used techniques in this process are expropriation of lands and their colonization; restrictions on spatial mobility (curfews, closures, roadblocks); murder; localized massacres; mass detentions; division, or elimination, of leaders and elite groups; hindrance of regular education and schooling; physical destruction of public institutions and infrastructure, private homes and property; starvation; social and political isolation; re-education; and partial or, if feasible, complete ethnic cleansing, although this may not occur as a single dramatic action. The aim of most of these practices is to make life so unbearable that the greatest possible majority of the rival population, especially its elite and middle classes, will leave the area ‘voluntarily’. Typically, all such actions are taken in the name of law and order; a key aim is to achieve the power to define one’s own side as the law enforcers, and the other as criminals and terrorists. An alternative goal may be the establishment of a puppet regime — like those of the bantustans —that is completely obedient but provides an illusion of self-determination to the oppressed ethnic or racial community.
The hard facts are, however, that a Palestinian people exists, and the possibility of its politicide—or its being ethnically cleansed from the country—without fatal consequences for Israel, is nil. On the other hand, Israel is not only an established presence in the region but also, in local terms, a military, economic and technological superpower. Like many other immigrant-settler societies it was born in sin, on the ruins of another culture that had suffered politicide and partial ethnic cleansing—although the Zionist state did not succeed in annihilating the rival indigenous culture, as many other immigrant-settler societies have done. In 1948 it lacked the power to do so, and the strength of post-colonial sentiment at the time made such actions less internationally acceptable. Unlike the outcome in Algeria, Zambia or South Africa, however, the Palestinians were unable to overthrow their colonizers. The Jewish state in the Middle East succeeded in proving its viability, developing its own vital society and culture. Its long-term development and internal normalcy depend, however, on its recognition as a legitimate entity by the other peoples of the region. The peace accord signed with Egypt was, in this sense, Zionism’s second biggest victory. Its biggest was the Oslo agreement, in which the Zionist movement’s primary victim and adversary recognized the right of a Jewish state to exist in Palestine. Just as Sadat’s treaty with Begin was a delayed result of Israeli victory in the 1967 and 1973 wars, this revolutionary change in mainstream Palestinian political thought occurred in the aftermath of American victory in the Gulf War of 1991.
Similarly, it was in the run-up to its invasion of Iraq that the Bush Administration issued its new ‘Road Map’. Its goal is to close down all armed resistance to Israel in exchange for the establishment, within temporary borders, of an entity described as a ‘Palestinian state’ by the end of 2003. This is to be followed by the withdrawal of Israeli forces from pa territories and elections for a new Palestinian Council, leading to negotiations with Israel on a permanent agreement, to be reached by 2005. The so-called ‘Quartet’ of the us, eu, un and Russia is supposed to supervise implementation of the plan, which leaves all the matters in dispute—borders, refugees, status of Jerusalem, among others—open. This strategy fits well with Sharon’s tactic of buying time to continue his politicide policy—a tactic that rests on the assumption that Palestinian terrorist attacks will continue, drawing forth a correspondingly savage Israeli military response.
The effectiveness of Sharon’s approach was attested by a public opinion poll conducted in early December 2002. More than seven out of ten Palestinians and Israelis indicated that they were ready to undertake a settlement process based on the Palestinians refraining from violence and the Israelis agreeing to a Palestinian state within the 1967 borders. Fewer than one in five Palestinians and Israelis (in both cases the percentages were remarkably similar) were committed to the idea of regaining historical Palestine or holding on to the Occupied Territories. However, a large proportion of both the Palestinian and Israeli majorities expressed no confidence in the readiness of the other side to give up violence or make the necessary concessions. Thus the bulk of Palestinians continued to support the use of violent methods in the Intifada, while a similar proportion of Israelis continued to favour a violent crackdown by the idf.
Being an able map-reader, Sharon has found the new Bush plan very convenient. Speaking in November 2002, he outlined a clear vision of how the conflict should be managed: with the implementation of the Road Map, Israel would be able to create a contiguous area of territory in the West Bank which, through a combination of tunnels and bridges, would allow Palestinians to travel from Jenin to Hebron without passing through any Israeli roadblocks or checkpoints. Israel would undertake measures such as ‘creating territorial continuity between Palestinian population centres’—that is, withdrawing from cities such as Jenin, Nablus and Hebron—as long as the Palestinians remain engaged in making a ‘sincere and real effort to stop terror’. Then, after the required reforms in the Palestinian Authority had been completed, the next phase of the Bush plan would come into effect: the establishment of a Palestinian state, within ‘provisional’ borders.
The intention is obvious. The ‘Palestinian state’ will be formed by three enclaves around the cities of Jenin, Nablus, and Hebron, lacking territorial contiguity. The plan to connect the enclaves with tunnels and bridges means that a strong Israeli presence will exist in most other areas of the West Bank. To drive the point home, Sharon added:
This Palestinian state will be completely demilitarized. It will be allowed to maintain lightly armed police and internal forces to ensure civil order. Israel will continue to control all movement in and out of the Palestinian state, will command its airspace, and not allow it to form alliances with Israel’s enemies.
Sharon knows very well that it would be virtually impossible for a Palestinian leader to end the conflict in exchange for such limited sovereignty and territory. However, the very mention of the code words ‘Palestinian state’ — taboo in the right-wing lexicon — endows him with an image of moderation abroad and positions him at the centre of the domestic political spectrum. Such gestures also win him an almost unlimited amount of time to continue his programme of politicide, which throughout has received the unconditional support of Ehud Barak.
In the aftermath of the Anglo-American invasion of Iraq—and the glaring failure to find any weapons of mass destruction—Washington is now attempting to burnish its image as a peacemaker by pushing the Road Map again. But while Western media attention has been taken up with the hudna, or truce agreement, by the leaders of Hamas, Islamic Jihad and the Palestinian Authority, few remarked on the precise wording of Israel’s 26 May 2003 statement regarding its ‘adoption’ of the plan, which declared: ‘the Government of Israel resolves that all of Israel’s comments, as addressed in the [Bush] Administration’s statement, will be implemented in full during the implementation phase of the Road Map.’ In other words, it was not the map itself that was accepted but the fourteen conditions and reservations, each quite separate from the content of the original document. This allows Sharon to say that he has adopted his own version of the Road Map and gives Bush the chance to issue a statement about a ‘positive step’ and come to Aqaba for a photo opportunity.
The Israeli conditions, however, are based on an incorrect perception of the causality and logic of the conflict—the presumption that the root of the violence lies in ‘Palestinian terrorism’, rather than in Israel’s generation-long occupation and illegal colonization of Palestinian lands and its exploitation and harassment of the entire people. Thus the initial Israeli ‘condition’ states that: ‘In the first phase of the plan and as a condition for progress to the second phase, the Palestinians will complete the dismantling of terrorist organizations . . . and their infrastructure, collect all illegal weapons and transfer them to a third party’. Were the document’s framers to adopt a more accurate perspective on the historical and political causalities, they would propose the prompt termination of occupation, and withdrawal of Israeli military forces to the pre-1967 borders as the first—and not the last—phase of the process. Under such conditions, it would then make sense to demand that the sovereign Palestinian state cease its resistance against a non-existent occupation and act, gradually but forcefully, against terrorist organizations that might endanger its own authority or stability.
One of the main flaws of the Oslo accords was the assumption that the Palestinian Authority would be a subcontractor regime, working to maintain Israel’s security, while all other issues would be subject to endless rounds of negotiations with every concession depending on Israeli generosity. This approach proved futile. In addition, the collapse of the Oslo process showed that the long period of ‘trust building’ caused mainly mutual distrust and offered plenty of opportunities for internal projectionist forces to sabotage any agreements. A minimal requirement of a realistic peace plan is to give the Palestinians some possibility of achieving one of their major aims: a sovereign state over 22 per cent of historic Palestine. An explicit statement of this goal could create a greater symmetry among the parties and provide incentives for settling all the additional issues such as Jerusalem, refugees, the division of water resources and so on. Finally, the Road Map includes two contradictory demands on the Palestinians, as preconditions for a settlement: on the one hand, they are to establish an authoritarian regime to fight dissident terror organizations; on the other they are to democratize their polity. Again, the understanding of the causality at stake needs to be reversed, if this is not to be simply a hypocritical pretext for avoiding any agreement—for a settlement itself, with popular backing, might be the best means to accelerate the democratization of all the parties involved. Without, at the very least, such adaptations as these, the Road Map merely points the way to the continued politicide of the Palestinian people under the umbrella of a Pax Americana.
Baruch Kimmerling is a professor of sociology at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Among his recent books are The Invention and Decline of Israelieness (University of California Press) and Palestinians: The Making of a People (The Free Press and Harvard University Press) with Joel S. Migdal. This article first appeared in New Left Review, September-October 2003. Posted with author’s permission.
Other Articles by Baruch Kimmerling