The Half-Empty Glass of Middle East Peace
Looking around the Middle East and the world scene, one is struck by an extraordinary constellation of circumstances that seem conducive to a just and durable solution of the Palestine problem and its derivative, the Arab-Israeli conflict.
Globally, there is the steady convergence between the two superpowers on the resolution of regional conflicts; the virtual end of the cold war; the growing Soviet flirtation with Tel Aviv accompanied by the relative cooling of relations with Damascus; and the mounting universal concern, in spite of the distractions of the collapse of Eastern European communism, for the tribulations of the Palestinians under prolonged occupation and at Israeli brutality in the suppression of the intifada.
Regionally, the most remarkable development has been the steady crystallization, since the early 1970s, by the mainstream PLO leadership of a pragmatic solution of the Palestinian problem accommodating the concepts both of Israeli statehood and Palestinian sovereignty-a crystallization that found its culmination in the declarations of the PNC held in Algiers in November 1988 and later in the successive statements of Arafat.
Walid Khalidi is a founder and the general secretary of the Institute for Palestine Studies. He is a leading authority on the Palestine problem and the Arab-Israeli conflict, and is currently a research fellow at the Center for Middle Eastern Studies, Harvard University.