Barry Rubin: Interviewed about 6-Day War

Historians in the News

RAY SUAREZ: For more on the Middle East then and now, we get two perspectives. Barry Rubin is director of the Global International Affairs Center at the Interdisciplinary University at Herzliya, Israel, and author of the new book, "The Truth About Syria."
Hisham Melhem is Washington bureau chief for the Arab satellite network al-Arabiya and Washington correspondent for the Lebanese newspaper An-Nahar.

And, Barry Rubin, did anyone on the Israeli side have the prescience, the forward look to understand that today's situation was a possible outcome of that war 40 years ago?

BARRY RUBIN, Director, Global International Affairs Center: Oh, absolutely. The debate following the war was between two camps. One camp said that they believed that the territories captured in 1967 were bargaining chips which would be used to attain peace with the Arab side when that became possible. The other side said that it did not believe that the Arab side or Arab parties would make peace for a very long time.

Now, where those two positions came together in a consensus was they need to hold territories until there could be a negotiated agreement. So, in a sense, a lot of people -- certainly half the population -- wouldn't be shocked. The shock, of course, came because, in the 1990s, there was a process with the PLO which was hoped that it would result in peace. And then, of course, when it came to the crunch in 2000, and Yasser Arafat was offered an independent Palestinian state and $22 billion in aid as the first offer, he turned it down, so it took a downturn.

So from the point of view of 1967, it's less of a shock than, let's say, from the point of view of 1997, when there were great hopes that there was going to be some kind of diplomatic resolution.

RAY SUAREZ: So you're saying, if I understand you, that there were people who understood that Israel might be in those territories for decades to come?

BARRY RUBIN: Well, I think everyone foresaw the possibility of it taking decades. But, again -- well, just very briefly to explain this...

RAY SUAREZ: Very briefly.

BARRY RUBIN: So the two views were, hold the territories until peace is going to happen. Some people thought it would happen sooner, some people later. In the 1990s, most people went over to the view that peace was possible, but what happened in 2000 confounded both sides.

As a result, what we have today is the analysis goes like this: On the one hand, the great majority of Israelis say they're ready to have an independent Palestinian state and they're ready to leave the remaining territories, but at the same time they say they're very skeptical about the ability of the other side to get it together.
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