Review of book on Palestinian history
Excellent review by Ian Gilmour of the new book by Baruch Kimmerling and Joel Migdal, The Palestinian People: A History. Some excerpts:
While similarly rejecting the claim of the Palestinians that they had existed as a people from time immemorial, the authors argue that 'a self-identified [Palestinian] people' was the result of their encountering over two centuries, first, 'the powerful forces stemming from European markets and governmental administration, and later, Jewish settlements'.

The 1967 war produced a much smaller ejection of Palestinians and an Israeli occupation of all Palestine that was, initially, relatively benign, except in Gaza where, under the military commander, Ariel Sharon, 'numerous young Palestinians were executed without trial following a rebellion attempt'. Kimmerling and Migdal remind us that Sharon's notoriety began in 1953 when, on Jordanian territory he and his soldiers massacred 69 Arabs, including 46 women and children.

Kimmerling and Migdal are at their considerable best on Oslo and why it failed. They are, though, perhaps unduly charitable in not stressing the astonishing incompetence of the Palestinian negotiators. Either not realising the extent of Israel's settlements or relying on Israeli good faith, they did not secure an immediate ban on more being built. Consequently an agreement that should have led to Israel returning Palestinian land for peace, resulted instead in Israel filching even more land. By 2000 the number of illegal settlers since Oslo had more than doubled.

The authors believe, surely rightly, that Oslo had two key defects: there was no outside arbitrator, and the agreement was not balanced. The Israelis wanted recognition of Israel by the PLO and an immediate end to violence, and they got them. All the Palestinians got was implicit promises - of a sovereign state, the end of Jewish settlements and a just resolution of the refugee problem - and none was kept.

The Palestinians saw that the chief results were economic decline, ever-increasing settlements, as well as more apartheid roads which only the settlers could use, so the violence started again.

...it is hard to be optimistic. The Palestinians may eventually get something that is called 'a state'. Very possibly, however, it will in reality be a Bantustan or a reservation.
I'd agree with this outlook.

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