Special Focus – Egypt and the Palestinians

From Nasser’s championing of the Palestinian cause to Sadat’s willful neglect of Palestinian interests and, lastly, Sisi’s all-but-declared support for an Israeli war that devastated an already destitute Gaza, the arc of Egyptian-Palestinian relations has been remarkable. It signals the ascendency of American hegemony in the region, underscores the failure of the Palestinian leadership to solidify Arab ranks behind its nationalist struggle, and might now foreshadow anxious Gulf regimes striking their own separate deals with Israel in an anti-Iranian regional bloc. Syria’s civil war and the recent nuclear agreement between Iran and today’s great powers have upended the calculations of regional actors and lowered Palestine even further on the agenda of Arab states.

As part of our October Special Focus Egypt and the Palestinians, we have made available articles from our Journal of Palestine Studies archives retracing the history of Egypt’s relations with Israel and the Palestinians. While future “developments cannot be easily foreseen,” knowing the history offers us the chance to cultivate a more intelligent sense of the future and where the stateless Palestinians might figure in the calculus of the region’s Arab states. 

Second Intifada - 15 Years Later

On 28 September 2000, Israeli opposition leader Ariel Sharon visited the Haram al-Sharif escorted by 1,000 Israeli riot police and a police helicopter guard. The visit served to demonstrate Israel’s imposed authority over occupied East Jerusalem and inevitably provoked Palestinian protests. 

The following day, after Friday prayers, Palestinian frustration erupted and clashes ensued between rock-throwing youths and 2,000 Israeli sharp shooters and riot police deployed around the holy site. By the end of the day, 6 Palestinians had been killed and more than 200 injured; there were no serious injuries on the Israeli side. The Second Intifada had begun.

On this anniversary, we have made available articles from the Journal of Palestine Studies that chronicle the Second Intifada in real time. A decade after the Intifada’s February 2005 denouement, these articles provide accounts that continue to inform the present situation of continued occupation, unceasing settlement growth, and a divided Palestinian polity.

Remembering Edward Said

On September 25, 2003, Edward Said passed away after a lifetime of fighting for the Palestinians' "permission to narrate." 

In the Journal of Palestine Studies (Vol. 33, No. 3), Senior Fellow Mouin Rabbani on "The Intellectual Life of Edward Said." 

Remembering Sabra & Shatila

Thirty-three years ago on 16 September 1982, the Lebanese Christian Phalange militia entered the Palestinian refugee camps of Sabra and Shatila in Beirut. Israeli forces occupied the surrounding city and allowed the militia’s entry into the camp. Over the following three days, at least 800 civilians were massacred as Israeli-manned checkpoints turned back fleeing Palestinians and Israeli troops fired flares to illuminate the camp at night.

Symbols Versus Substance: Edward Said on Oslo's Declaration of Principles

On September 13, 1993, Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and Palestine Liberation Organization Chairman Yasser Arafat signed the Oslo Accords’ Declaration of Principles. To mark that anniversary, we recommend an interview conducted by Senior Fellow Mouin Rabbani with Edward Said on the DOP's consequences for Palestinians: 

The Gaza Strip as Laboratory

On 12 September 2005, Israel completed its withdrawal from the Gaza Strip. While erroneously presented as a peace offering to Palestinians, the unilateral withdrawal rebuffed any cooperation from the Palestinian Authority, enabled an indirect Israeli occupation with Gaza's population treated as dispensable, and served the purpose of entrenching Israeli occupation in the West Bank.


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