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Historian Ilan Pappe: ‘We Need Sustained International Pressure on Israel’

Historians in the News
tags: Israel, Palestine, Ilan Pappe



ILAN PAPPE:It’s a pleasure to be on your show.

SHARMINI PERIES:Ilan, why do you argue that Palestinians are better off without the U.S.?

ILAN PAPPE:Well, the reason is a retrospective historical analysis, going back to the aftermath of the June ’67 war, when American mediation became hegemonic and dominated the peace efforts. And ever since that moment the negotiation ended in loss of land for the Palestinians, expropriation of land by the Israelis. And every year that passed under the umbrella of American mediation, life for the Palestinians in the West Bank, in the Gaza Strip, and wherever they were became harsher. And because of this alleged peace process it was very difficult to recruit international support against the continued Israeli oppression and colonization.

SHARMINI PERIES:Ilan, historically, before the U.S. assumed this role as the mediator and got involved, who was talking about bringing peace? Who were the main players and negotiators?

ILAN PAPPE:Well, during their mandatory periods when Britain was ruling Palestine, Britain was the main mediator, and the Palestinians did not fare better under their mediation. Between ’48 and ’67. There was hardly any mediation effort. But if there was any, it was conducted by the United Nations. The United Nations position was a bit better than that of the Americans. But as you know, this international organization then and this international organization today doesn’t have any teeth. And therefore its mediation efforts usually do not lead to any significant change in the reality on the ground.

SHARMINI PERIES:Now, Ilan, historically over these 70 years no one has really been very successful as mediators. What options do the Palestinians have? A mediator that Israel would accept, and where the decisions made under such negotiation would stick. Or are we even there, to have that kind of dialogue at this time?

ILAN PAPPE:Well, I don’t think the issue now is finding a mediator. The issue is really changing world public opinion and perception about the essence of the problem in Palestine, and what needs to be done in order to change the reality on the ground. What you need, I think, now is more or less what you needed in the last days of apartheid in South Africa. You need sustained international pressure on Israel first and foremost to end the oppression, to end the occupation, and only then to start proper bilateral direct negotiations.

So I think if we will be now looking for a new mediator, this will not change the reality as much as would a sustained campaign of pressure, and a recognition that the problem in Palestine is not the lack of peace, but the continuation of the colonization that has started 100 years ago and has not ended ever since. ...

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