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The Palestinian Predicament

Author: Walter Russell Mead, Henry A. Kissinger Senior Fellow for U.S. Foreign Policy
May 12, 2010
American Interest

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It's been a quiet two days here in Jerusalem at least for the Mead team. For the last two days I've had to cancel all meetings and visits due to a vicious stomach bug that has kept me close, very close, to my hotel room. For most of that time I've been too miserable to do much more than watch the seemingly non-stop television coverage of the negotiations over the new coalition government in the UK. Fortunately Nick Mead has been a faithful and loyal nephew, bringing me pills from the outside world and placing bottles of water by my bed from time to time.

From time to time I've been able to rouse myself out of dumb animal misery long enough to reflect on what I've learned here. In particular I've come to feel much more deeply just how difficult the Palestinian situation is. I'm not just talking about checkpoints and limits on travel and development, though these are real. I'm thinking of the situation of the Palestinian Authority and its negotiators.

They are not just caught between the demands of hard line Palestinians and the logic and emotions of the Palestinian national movement on the one hand and the very limited concessions they can hope to extract from the Israelis on the other. Increasingly, they are caught up in a new round of great power rivalry.

It's been a quiet two days here in Jerusalem at least for the Mead team. For the last two days I've had to cancel all meetings and visits due to a vicious stomach bug that has kept me close, very close, to my hotel room. For most of that time I've been too miserable to do much more than watch the seemingly non-stop television coverage of the negotiations over the new coalition government in the UK. Fortunately Nick Mead has been a faithful and loyal nephew, bringing me pills from the outside world and placing bottles of water by my bed from time to time.

From time to time I've been able to rouse myself out of dumb animal misery long enough to reflect on what I've learned here. In particular I've come to feel much more deeply just how difficult the Palestinian situation is. I'm not just talking about checkpoints and limits on travel and development, though these are real. I'm thinking of the situation of the Palestinian Authority and its negotiators.

They are not just caught between the demands of hard line Palestinians and the logic and emotions of the Palestinian national movement on the one hand and the very limited concessions they can hope to extract from the Israelis on the other. Increasingly, they are caught up in a new round of great power rivalry.

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