The Lingering Conflict

The Lingering Conflict: Israel, the Arabs, and the Middle East, 1948–2011

Copyright Date: 2011
Pages: 308
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  • Book Info
    The Lingering Conflict
    Book Description:

    InThe Lingering ConflictItamar Rabinovich, a former chief negotiator for Israel, provides unique and authoritative insight into the prospects for genuine peace in the Middle East. His presentation includes a detailed insider account of the peace processes of 1992-96 and a frank dissection of the more dispiriting record since then.

    Rabinovich's firsthand experiences as a negotiator and as Israel's ambassador to the United States provide a valuable perspective from which to view the major players involved. Fresh analysis of ongoing situations in the region and the author's authoritative take on key figures such as Ehud Barak and Benjamin Netanyahu shed new light on the long and tumultuous history of Arab-Israeli relations. His book is a shrewd assessment of the past and current state of affairs in the Middle East, as well as a sober look at the prospects for a peaceful future.

    While Rabinovich explains the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians -a classic dispute between two national movements claiming the same land -The Lingering Conflictalso considers the broader political, cultural, and increasingly religious conflict between the Jewish state and Arab nationalism. He approaches the troubled region in an international context, offering provocative analysis of America's evolving role and evaluation of its diplomatic performance.

    This book builds on the author's previous seminal work on geopolitics in the Middle East, particularlyWaging Peace. As Rabinovich brings the Arab-Israeli conflict up to date, he widens the scope of his earlier insights into efforts to achieve normal, peaceful relations. And, of course, he takes full account of recent social and political tumult in the Middle East, discussing the Arab Spring uprisings -and the subsequent retaliation by dictators such as Syria's al-Asad and Libya's Qaddafi -in the context of Arab-Israeli relations.

    eISBN: 978-0-8157-2229-8
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Preface
    (pp. ix-x)
    Tel Aviv
  4. 1 The Background
    (pp. 1-26)

    The Arab-Israeli conflict is now in its seventh decade. An earlier conflict between the small Jewish and the much larger Arab community in Palestine had first erupted in the late Ottoman period. It became fiercer and more significant after the First World War, the publication in 1917 of the Balfour Declaration (in which the British government supported the “establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people”), and the establishment in 1920 of a British Mandate over Palestine on both sides of the Jordan River. During the next three decades, Arabs and Jews fought over rights and control...

  5. 2 Madrid and Oslo: Years of Hope
    (pp. 27-54)

    As the twentieth century drew to a close, the four-year period from June 1992 to May 1996, shrouded as it was by both nostalgia and controversy, loomed ever more distinctly as a notably significant chapter in the evolution of Arab-Israeli relations. A hospitable regional and international environment, the newly formed Madrid framework, American leadership and support, and, above all, the determination of two Israeli prime ministers to move toward peace and the positive response of several Arab partners produced the most ambitious and sustained effort yet to settle the Arab-Israeli conflict.¹ These ambitions endowed the period with significance, and a...

  6. 3 Years of Stagnation
    (pp. 55-86)

    On October 24, 1998, a memorandum was signed in the East Wing of the White House after nine days of tripartite American-Israeli-Palestinian negotiations at the Wye River Plantation conference center. At the core of it was an Israeli agreement to transfer control within three months of 13 percent of the West Bank to the Palestinian Authority. In return, the latter agreed to wage a genuine campaign against the fundamentalist Islamic and terrorist opponents of the peace process, once again to make a ceremonious revocation of the offensive paragraphs of the Palestinian National Charter that called for the elimination of the...

  7. 4 Ehud Barak and the Collapse of the Peace Process
    (pp. 87-127)

    Ehud Barak was elected Israel’s prime minister on May 17, 1999; on July 6 he presented his coalition government to the Knesset. He had conducted his election campaign as Yitzhak Rabin’s heir a high-ranking military man and a former chief of staff of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF)—who went into politics to provide Israel with peace embedded in a solid new security regime.¹ But as prime minister, Barak adopted a style radically different from Rabin’s. Rabin moderated his bold decisions through his preference for gradualism; Barak sought to cut the Arab-Israeli Gordian knot with one bold stroke. He concluded...

  8. 5 Sharon, Bush, and Arafat
    (pp. 128-162)

    At the core of this chapter lie three interlocking personal-political narratives. The first belongs to Ariel Sharon, whose passage from marginality and controversy to the center of Israeli politics brought him to a point where he had to make choices that ran against the grain of his biography. The second is that of Yasser Arafat, who for thirty-five years had been successful in building and keeping for himself the positions of symbol and interpreter of Palestinian nationalism. Throughout this period he was able to impose his vision of the goals of that nationalism, discarding several opportunities to settle for less...

  9. 6 Ehud Olmert and the New New Middle East
    (pp. 163-184)

    In the context of Arab-Israeli relations, the term “New Middle East” is associated primarily with the vision presented by Shimon Peres in the early 1990s of Arab-Israeli cooperation—once political peace had been achieved—in building the infrastructure and economic resources for the region to be able to support its swelling population in the coming decades. It was bitterly ironic that a decade later Israel came to confront a very different New Middle East, one defined by Iran’s quest for regional hegemony, Turkey’s return to the region’s politics as an Islamist power, and the construction under Iran’s leadership of an...

  10. 7 American-Israeli Autumn, Arab Spring
    (pp. 185-204)

    The course of Arab-Israeli relations in the years 2009–11 was shaped by three major developments: Barack Obama’s election as president of the United States, the victory of the right wing in the Israeli parliamentary elections of February 2009, and the wave of popular uprisings in the Arab world that began in Tunisia in December 2010 and came later to be known as the Arab Spring. Benjamin Netanyahu’s return to power in March 2009 was unrelated to Barack Obama’s election as president of the United States in November 2008, but the formation of a right-wing government in Israel magnified the...

  11. 8 The Web of Relationships
    (pp. 205-246)

    As we have seen throughout this exploration of the Arab-Israeli conflict, the very term is somewhat misleading—implying as it does the notion that a single conflict pits Israel against the Arab world, and that the ebb and flow of Israel’s relations with the Palestinians are linked organically to, say, its rivalry with Iraq or its complex relationship with Morocco. To a considerable extent, this has indeed been true: broad trends have applied across the region. After all, the Arabs collectively rallied against Israel in 1948, participated in the conflict when it festered and swelled, were devastated by the defeat...

  12. 9 Peace and Normalization
    (pp. 247-275)

    In the mid-1970s an unusual book was published in Egypt under the titleAfter the Guns Fall Silent,written by the Egyptian left-wing intellectual and journalist Muhammad Sid-Ahmed.¹ It was the first presentation of an Arab vision of accommodation with Israel, the first Arab effort to spell out what the Middle East might look like after the establishment of Arab-Israeli peace. The author of this bold, pioneering work was roundly criticized in Egypt and elsewhere in the Arab world for breaking a taboo and endorsing and propagating the idea of peaceful accommodation with Israel. The criticism came even though the...

  13. Conclusion
    (pp. 276-282)

    In the fall of 2011, Israel’s relationship with the Arab world and its strategic position in the Middle East reached a particularly low point.

    To a considerable extent, this state of affairs was the result of trends and developments over which Israel had no or, at best, limited influence. One was the direction taken by the Arab Spring. Israel’s early concern was borne out that the fall of Hosni Mubarak’s regime and the manifestations of opposition to the Hashemite regime in Jordan would affect two pillars of its national security: the peace treaties and security cooperation with Egypt and Jordan....

  14. Chronology
    (pp. 283-286)
  15. Notes
    (pp. 287-298)
  16. Index
    (pp. 299-308)
  17. Back Matter
    (pp. 309-311)