Towards a Palestinian state
DOI link for Towards a Palestinian state
Towards a Palestinian state book
In the wake of the Israeli invasion of Lebanon, King Hussein resumed hisefforts to find a settlement between Israel and its Palestinian neighbours. The rebuff to Israel in Lebanon and the worsting of the PLO by Syria revived the king’s hopes of an agreement whereby Israel would cede territory in exchange for peace. These hopes were shared by Shimon Peres, leader of Israel’s Labour Party and joint head of a coalition formed in 1984 with Likud, led after Begin’s resignation by Yitzhak Shamir; under a power-sharing agreement Peres was prime minister from 1984 to 1986 when he switched posts with Shamir and became foreign minister. These hopes were, however, unreal. Each side had a non-negotiable item unacceptable to the other. Likud, while ready to discuss some form of autonomy for Palestinians, insisted on keeping control over all territory conquered in and since 1967 and on negotiating only with Jordan. From its earliest days Israel had refused to countenance a distinct Palestinian state and it refused to enter into talks with the PLO or with a mixed Jordanian-PLO team. Hussein, on the other hand, believed that no peace was possible without the direct participation of the Palestinians and that the PLO was their proper representative. In this view he was supported by western European governments, while the United States, obedient to Israeli insistence, interpreted direct talks to mean talks between Israel and Jordan only, with no wider international conference. Since one main element in any peace talks must be the cession (or other disposition) of territory occupied by Israel, not to Jordan but to Palestinians, the pattern was lopsided unless Jordan were to abandon its plea to include the PLO and the PLO were to give Hussein a free hand to negotiate the fate of the Palestinians independently of themselves. Hussein’s task in these circumstances was to reach the conference room by some dexterous fudging and, not surprisingly, he failed.