Anziska, Seth. “Preventing Palestine: A Political History from Camp David to Oslo”, Princeton University Press, 2018.
Ensuring Palestinian Statelessness
Those of you who know me know that I am not a political person and n fact, I really dislike politics except we are speaking about Israel. I become really upset when people who have never lived there are ready to criticize whatever Israel says or does. I spent more than half of my life there and while it was not always good for me, I completely understand why Israel must exist and that we must support her. Israel has been around now for seventy years Israel and she has done some amazing things. For forty years Israel has honored a peace treaty with Egypt that is widely viewed as a triumph of U.S. diplomacy in the Middle East. Yet the Palestinians who would-be beneficiaries of a vision for a comprehensive regional settlement that led to the Camp David Accords in 1978 still remain stateless. Seth Anziska’s credentials certainly qualify him to have his say on what has happened here and here he looks at how and why Palestinian statelessness persists. In “Preventing Palestine”, he examines the complex legacy of the agreement brokered by President Jimmy Carter.
Anziska bases what he has to say on newly declassified international sources and charts the emergence of the Middle East peace process, including the establishment of a separate track to deal with the issue of Palestine. From the very beginning of the peace process, Anziska tells us “Egyptian-Israeli peace came at the expense of the sovereignty of the Palestinians, whose aspirations for a homeland alongside Israel faced crippling challenges.” With the introduction of the idea of restrictive autonomy, Israeli settlement expansion, and Israel’s 1982 invasion of Lebanon, the chances for Palestinian statehood narrowed even more. I was there during the first Intifada in 1987 and it, along with the end of the Cold War brought new opportunities for a Palestinian state, but many players, refused to see Palestinians as a nation or a people and continued to steer international diplomacy away from their cause.
“Preventing Palestine” brings together excellent political analysis, extensive original research, and interviews with diplomats, military veterans, and communal leaders to give us a new interpretation of the struggle for self-determination.
Politically in Israel, the Camp David Accords are acclaimed while the Oslo Accords are bitterly debated between Left and Right. Anziska shows us the strong connection between the two agreements and the extent to which Oslo drew on Camp David’s autonomy plan. Reality was obscured by hostile political agendas and unabashed bias. Seth Anziska reveals the complex forces that have prevented Palestinian statehood and contributed to the destructive dynamic on the ground. He looks at the failures of the so-called Palestinian-Israeli peace process and why they failed and resulted in injustices for the Palestinians. We see how the breakthrough peace agreement between Egypt and Israel created a roadblock to peace between Israel and the Palestinians and has done research to back this up. While reading this, it is clear why a two-state solution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict hasn’t been achieved. We see the objective political reality where a people’s rights are marginalized by a military power unchecked by international order and largely supported by the United States. This is a story of Israel’s success, but one that paradoxically leaves it facing an assertive existential enemy.
Anziska’s gives us a compelling analysis of the unexpected continuity that runs throughout the years of Israeli-Palestinian peacemaking and it is so important that we understand what we have here.
We already know the outcome of the contest at this point but that does not stop this from being a thrilling and gripping read. Anziska reveals the willingness of Americans and even Egyptians to go along with the Israeli campaign. I have read so much about this of late, but I can assure that this is a book that needs to be read if you are to understand.