Adam Shatz: Is Palestine next?

In the latest London Review of Books:

American disapproval would once have counted against these strategies, but America is no longer seen by the leadership to hold the keys to liberation. ‘Obama, the poor man, he got into the ring with Netanyahu and he got a bloody nose while the whole world was watching,’ Zomlot said. ‘Should we wait for America to come around? We’ve been waiting for 20 years. The depressing fact is that America is impotent.’ But the Arabs, at last, are not. ‘The region has changed irreversibly,’ Zomlot said, ‘but Israel still has the manual of 1948. The removal of the Arab regimes that stood in the way of the Palestinians is neutralising Israel’s machine. If the Israelis don’t change, they will end up as a tiny minority in a sea of Arab democracies. I hope they will come back to their senses before it’s too late.’ But it may already be too late for partition. ‘I’m afraid we’re beyond the two states,’ he said. ‘Drive to Nablus. It’s Israel – all the roads to Nablus. Look at the map: the settlements are the core, they have the highways and the infrastructure, while Palestinian cities are the periphery, connected by bypass roads.’

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Shatz: After Egypt

It is too early to say whether Egypt will make the transition to civilian rule and recover its sovereignty after 30 years as an American client state, much less whether it will ever recapture the regional leadership it enjoyed under Nasser. But it is not too early to speculate on the regional impact of Mubarak’s overthrow. As the Syrian philosopher Sadiq al-Azm has put it, ‘the regimes feel vulnerable now.’ The symptoms of this anxiety are plain to see: Mahmoud Abbas’s hasty cabinet reshuffle; the Algerian government’s mobilisation of 30,000 police officers to confront a few thousand protesters in central Algiers; the violent repression of the recent demonstrations in Iran, Libya and Bahrain. Saudi Arabia, which recommended that Mubarak crush the protests by force – and which offered to continue subsidising the army when the Obama administration briefly hinted that it might reconsider its aid package – is nervously watching developments in Cairo. So is Israel, though it has retreated into radio silence after failing to persuade Obama to continue propping up Mubarak. It’s not just the peace treaty that worries the Israeli government: The last thing it wants to see is a national, Egyptian-style campaign of non-violent resistance against the occupation, or indeed against the Jewish state’s ‘partner in peace’, the increasingly unpopular Palestinian Authority.