Press Release
Contact Information: Hussein Ibish
April 15, 2010 - 12:00am

ATFP Senior Fellow Hussein Ibish lectured on internal Palestinian politics and the dynamics of Palestinian-Israeli peace at George Washington University on April 13, 2010. Ibish traced the development of the present Palestinian national consensus on pursuing a negotiated two state peace agreement with Israel from the origins of the revivified Palestinian national movement in the late 60s. He told the students that the Palestinian national movement was largely dormant after the obliteration of all Palestinian institutions following the 1948 war and the establishment of the state of Israel. However, by the mid-to-late 60s, Palestinians had restructured their national institutions, mainly in the form of the PLO and its constituent parties. Ibish said that over the next 20 years, Palestinians discover that the agenda of replacing Israel with an Arab Palestinian state through armed struggle and reversing the 1948 war was not possible and the agenda shifted to an emphasis on diplomacy in pursuit of a two state agreement and an end to the occupation that began in 1967.

Ibish said that a national consensus that still holds majority appeal that had emerged in the 1980s two-state peace agreement was being challenged by an Islamist agenda led by Hamas on the religious right and a one-state agenda largely driven by the left in the Palestinian diaspora. But he said that the majority of Palestinians continue to feel that a negotiated agreement is the only realistic prospect for achieving their minimal national aims and that broader agendas were not achievable. He said that the Palestinian leadership did not feel that a breakthrough in negotiations was imminent or likely in the next year in spite of the efforts of the Obama administration to push the process forward because of attitudes in the present Israeli government. He outlined a new series of strategies being adopted by the PLO and the PA to bolster an argument negotiations and diplomacy including state and institution building, nonviolent protesting and boycotts and other economic measures aimed at settlements but not Israel itself. Ibish said that in his view the state and institution building program in particular was the most important development in many years in Palestinian national strategy. He said that if it were sustained over the long run, it could change the strategic context in which peace is negotiated between Israel and the Palestinians, and also prove a powerful contrast to Hamas rule in Gaza.


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