Monday, June 3, 2013

Negotiating with Palestinians, October 1967

There's a nice library at the ISA, with lots of books about Israel, its history, and adjacent subjects. There's also a fellow on the staff who apparently has read it all; in my experience, you can point at random at a book, and he'll rattle off its thesis and argumentation and perhaps some gossip about its author. So naturally, I went to him the other day with a question that's been nagging me: I'm finding as I wander around our files that in the early years after the Six Day War, there was quite a bit of Israeli interest in talking to Palestinians. (See our post yesterday as an example.) Has anyone ever written about this, I asked? And if not, why not? Isn't it interesting? To my mild surprise, he didn't know what I was taking about. There was this one memoir, by Shlomo Gavish (Moshe Dayan's top aide at the time); but other than that - no, he'd never really heard about the phenomenon, not to mention any literature about it.

So here's another example. On October 11, 1967, Moshe Dyan, along with Shlomo Gazit and some other aides, met in Jerusalem with the mayors of Nablus, Jenin, Tul Karm and others. On the 12th, Gazit sent a summary of the meeting to lots of top-level officials, including the prime minister, the minister of education and some generals. The mayors came to complain about severe Israeli measures, and also to see if there was any way their budgetary problems could be addressed. Dayan responded that he didn't expect anyone on the West Bank to like Israel or be happy about its presence and control; he also didn't expect the present situation to go on for long: "Sooner or later there will either be peace or there will be another war." Until then, however, he recommended that the population find a modus vivendi with Israel: dislike but practical accommodation. Mass strikes and demonstrations would be met with harsh counter-measures. Pragmatic accommodation, on the other hand, would result even in Israel assisting with the budgetary problems. At moments of tension, the leaders should come to him and talk. Which they agreed to do.

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