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The 'Palestine Papers' through Edward Said's eyes

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Shortly after the 1993 Oslo Accords, meant to be the first step on a short road to a lasting Israeli-Palestinian peace, the late Palestinian activist and academic Edward Said wrote a gloomy essay for the London Review of Books, predicting that Oslo's ultimate effect would be to delegitimize the PLO in the eyes of its own people and cost the Palestinians major chunks of land.

In the light of "Palestine Papers" being released by Al Jazeera, which, if accurate, show a weak Palestinian Authority (the child of Oslo) being rebuked by Israel because the concessions it offers are insufficient, the 17-year-old piece makes for fascinating reading.

"The Israeli calculation seems to be that by agreeing to police Gaza – a job which [former Prime Minister Menachem] Begin tried to give [Egyptian President Anwar] Sadat 15 years ago – the PLO would soon fall afoul of local competitors, of whom Hamas is only one. Moreover, rather than becoming stronger during the interim period, the Palestinians may grow weaker, come more under the Israeli thumb, and therefore be less able to dispute the Israeli claim when the last set of negotiations begins. But on the matter of how, by what specific mechanism, to get from an interim status to a later one, the document is purposefully silent. Does this mean, ominously, that the interim stage may be the final one?"


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