Writing with Ghassan Khatib in Foreign Affairs, Michael Bröning, author of The Politics of Change in Palestine: State-Building and Non-Violent Resistance, replies to an earlier article by Yosef Kuperwasser and Shalom Lipner entitled “The Problem Is Palestinian Rejectionism”. Khatib and Bröning effectively dismantle Kuperwasser and Lipner’s claim that Palestinian refusal to recognise Israel is the main stumbling block to peace:
One fact is undisputed: In 1993, the Palestine Liberation Organization recognized “the right of the State of Israel to exist in peace and security” through the letters of mutual recognition exchanged between then Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat. The authors correctly note that the declaration did not imply a Palestinian recognition of a “Jewish state.” However, they inaccurately interpret the omission as proof of a thinly concealed Palestinian scheme to pretend to support a two-state solution.
The truth is less dramatic. The declaration did not include the recognition of a “Jewish state” for the simple reason that Israeli leaders had not asked for it. And this was hardly an accident; they made no such request in the years that preceded the Oslo accords and did not include any such statement in the “road map for peace” or the “joint understanding” of the 2007 Annapolis Conference. Contrary to Kuperwasser and Lipner’s claim, the demand to gain outside recognition for a Jewish state is a position without precedent.
Of course, Israel has officially characterized itself as a “Jewish and a democratic state” since amending the basic law in the 1980s. Still, virtually no international actor, including Arab states with diplomatic relations with Israel, has ever been asked to embrace this designation. That is not surprising: Intertwining the ethnic and religious identity of a state with the question of legal recognition is not a common practice in international relations. Notwithstanding occasional references, even Washington, Israel’s most staunch supporter, has never recognized Israel as a “Jewish state.” To the contrary, U.S. President Harry Truman personally removed the term in the formal letter of recognition of Israel in 1948, replacing it with the handwritten correction “State of Israel.”
Visit Foreign Affairs to read the article in full.
Michael Bröning’s book receives fulsome praise in the authoritative Middle East Policy Council journal:
Michael Bröning has presented a well-informed and extensively researched analysis of contemporary Palestinian political structures and movements. He not only shows a deep understanding of the historical, cultural and political landscape of the region, but he also has, because of his position as the director of the Friedrich-Ebert Foundation’s Jerusalem Office, direct access to the most prominent figures in current Palestinian politics.
The book…presents a highly valuable and enriching analysis of contemporary Palestinian politics that no one interested in the Arab-Israeli conflict should miss.
Visit the Middle East Policy Council journal to read the review in full.
For further reading alongside Michael’s book, we recommend Zalman Amit and Daphna Levit’s excellent Israeli Rejectionism: A Hidden Agenda in the Middle East Peace Process.
State-Building and Non-Violent Resistance
Highlights the political activity in Palestine that is building towards a coherent national movement to challenge Israel in the occupied territories.
“Bröning’s lucid text on Palestinian affairs within the context of the continuing Israeli occupation is timely and immensely needed. This book is a must-read for those who want to comprehend the Israeli/Palestinian elephant in its totality, rather than be misled by a blind grasp of just the trunk, an ear, or the tail.” – Khaled Hroub, University of Cambridge
“Michael Bröning provides a much-needed antidote to mainstream writing. He methodically sketches the arc of the Palestinian national movement in the Occupied Territories as it transforms itself from Fatah’s secular nationalist approach to Hamas’s Islamist nationalism. This is a highly valuable book that no student of Palestinian history or the Arab-Israeli conflict can afford to ignore.” – Joost R. Hiltermann, Deputy Program Director Middle East and North Africa, International Crisis Group, Washington DC
A Hidden Agenda in the Middle East Peace Process
Zalman Amit and Daphna Levit
An analysis of the Middle East ‘peace process’ showing that peace has never been in the interest of the state of Israel.