Writing in Counterpunch, Gregory Harms, author of the best-selling The Palestine-Israel Conflict: A Basic Introduction, which releases as an updated and expanded 3rd edition in June, and Straight Power Concepts in the Middle East: US Foreign Policy, Israel and World History, provides a damming account of how Palestinian concerns have been marginalised by the international community:
The period commonly referred to as the “peace process” spanned from 1991 to 2000. It started with the George H. W. Bush administration convening a conference in Madrid, Spain, and ended with Bill Clinton conducting negotiations at Camp David and then issuing the Clinton Plan at the very end of his second term. While these years helped foster periods of calm, what is starkly visible is Israel’s ceaseless consolidation and refinement of its occupation.
Though Clinton’s last-minute parameters represented the high-water mark of US-Israeli-Palestinian diplomacy for that decade, they also drew that diplomacy to a close. Independent initiatives were produced over the following years, in particular, the Saudi proposal in 2002 (reissued in 2007), and two “track-II” proposals: the People’s Voice principles and the Geneva Accord, both issued in 2003. The Clinton Plan and these three later proposals bear much in common with one another, and contain reasonable, workable paths to a two-state resolution of the conflict.
Regardless of this fact, since Camp David II, the situation in the Palestinian territories has basically remained in a post-peace-process limbo. Which is not to suggest that the peace process was a strenuous and genuine effort to end the Palestine-Israel conflict. A simple survey of the diplomatic history all the way from 1967 to the present makes it clear that the United States has opted for suspension and delay.
So while the Palestine question is presently being eclipsed by other affairs in the international arena, it bears consideration that the Palestinians have always been off the agenda. The occupation has become procedural, and the Bush II-Obama paradigm could conceivably go on for years to come. While not peaceful by any rational standard, things are stable enough for Washington and Tel Aviv’s liking. Placing the matter front and center, and in the context of practical solutions already in reserve, will likely only be achieved by way of popular pressure.
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A Basic Introduction
Gregory Harms with Todd M. Ferry
Fully updated and expanded edition of the classic best-selling primer on the Israel/Palestine conflict.
“This superior and remarkably thorough, if brief, study of the Holy Land enigma is strongly recommended as an introduction.” – CHOICE
“An indispensable, basic introduction.” – Gabriel Kolko, Distinguished Research Professor Emeritus at York University in Toronto and author of The Age of War
US Foreign Policy, Israel and World History
A highly accessible introduction to the history of US foreign policy in the Middle East and why it remains deeply significant in the present day.
“Gregory Harms has written such a clear-headed book on empire, because it describes fluently why the responsibility for dealing with rapacious power cannot simply be blamed on history but rests with us right now.” – John Pilger
“This book offers lucid insights to readers seeking to understand why America’s approach to the Middle East has produced such terrible results. Sharp, persuasive, and based on a clear reading of history, it helps us re-imagine the world’s most volatile region.” – Stephen Kinzer, author of Overthrow