Making peace

Dan Gillon

  • The Question of Palestine by Edward Said
    Routledge, 265 pp, £7.50, February 1980, ISBN 0 7100 0498 2

The Palestinian problem has been the subject of world-wide debate for more than a decade. Yet the issue is not well understood. The debate, for all its volume and intensity, has rarely managed to discard that bitter emotional prejudice which makes rational discussion of the Arab-Israel conflict, and especially its Palestinian dimension, virtually impossible. For this, Israelis and Palestinians are equally guilty, and their supporters abroad perhaps doubly so. There is no significant segment of Israeli society which accepts the legitimacy of the Palestinian quest for national self-determination; nor will Israelis concede that Zionism, however good it may have been for the Jews, has inflicted great suffering on the Arabs of Palestine and still continues to do so. Conversely, the Palestinians have so far been entirely unable to reconcile themselves to Zionism as a genuine movement of Jewish national liberation; nor is there an explicitly stated readiness on the part of the Palestinian leadership to recognise Israel’s right to exist. While Egypt and Israel continue to make steady progress in the establishment of normal state-to-state relations, Palestinians and Israelis remain locked in enmity – a state of affairs that threatens all the other agreements which have been reached, particularly the Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty.

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