Background to a New Course
Twenty-four years ago in Rabat, Morocco, the Arab League passed the celebrated "three nos" resolution: no peace, no recognition, no negotiations with Israel. Despite the ambiguities in the declaration issued recently in Algiers by the Palestine National Council, it is widely believed that the Palestine Liberation Organization may have finally come to the unavoidable conclusion that the only way to realize the national aspirations of the Palestinian people is to recognize Israel's right to exist.
One of the major problems that continues to haunt the Israelis and Palestinians is the core issue of national identity as it relates to a territorial settlement.
For years, the conventional wisdom about the Middle East has been that peace between Israel and the Palestinians was unlikely in the foreseeable future.
Even before Secretary General Gorbachev came to power, the Soviet leadership had concluded that severing diplomatic relations with Israel in 1967 to placate its Arab clients was a major political mistake. It locked the Soviets into policies and commitments towards their Arab clients from which they could not easily extract themselves.
As Israel marks the 20th anniversary of the 1967 war, and as quiet efforts continue to establish a new framework for negotiations toward peace, the time has come for a fresh look at some of the basic elements of a future Middle East agreement.
While the Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty continues to affect Israel's political parties, the outcome of the autonomy negotiations will greatly determine the future of any Israeli government. In any case, political parties from both the center and the right now have another factor to contend with — the Gush Emunim (the block of the faithful), which has emerged as a major political force. Since 1967, the Gush has had a dramatic impact on Israel's West Bank policies, and from all indications the Gush will continue to exert political influence disproportionate to its actual numbers. As Israel's general election approaches (November 1981), a new political grouping may be formed, one gravitating toward the establishment of a major right-wing coalition in which the Gush could play a central role.
Two thousand years of pogroms and persecutions culminating in the Nazi holocaust contributed immeasurably to Jewish thinking and behavior after World War II.