From the Editor
النص الكامل: 

GIVEN ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER Ariel Sharon’s powerful impact on Israeli politics, his ‎sudden departure from the scene undoubtedly marks the end of an era. But Sharon has ‎been so successful in winning international—not to say popular Israeli--acceptance for ‎his vision of a “solution” to the Palestine problem that that there is little reason to expect ‎that this vision, whose implementation began with the disengagement from Gaza, will ‎change in any substantial way.‎

Two pieces in the current issue of JPS address this vision. Azmi Bishara, a leader ‎of the Palestinian community in Israel and a member of the Knesset, lays out the over-‎arching framework of the “resolution” of the conflict which Israel and the United States ‎have been moving to impose on the Palestinians, with special emphasis on Palestinian ‎‎“statehood” as a way of dissolving Palestinian rights and reducing the Palestine issue to a ‎trivial dispute over borders. Former human rights worker Darryl Li explores another ‎dimension of Israeli strategy, showing how Gaza has served—and continues to serve ‎after disengagement—as a laboratory in which techniques for the management of the ‎Palestinian population can be tested, fine tuned, and adapted for use in the West Bank ‎and Jerusalem. The ultimate goal of these techniques—various forms of closure, buffer ‎zones, and the use of airpower—is to assure maximum Israeli control over the territories ‎and minimum Israeli responsibility for the inhabitants. ‎

The situation of the Palestinian citizens inside Israel is the subject of two pieces ‎by Palestinian Israeli scholars. Amal Jamal traces the evolution of the Arab leadership ‎inside Israel over a half century and highlights certain characteristics that weaken its ‎effectiveness. Nadim Rouhana focuses on the campaign to enshrine the concept of Israel ‎as a “Jewish and democratic” state, underlining the contradictions of the formulation in a ‎country where nearly 20 percent of the population is Arab. Both are valuable in the run-‎up to the Israeli elections scheduled for March 2006. ‎

Finally, this issue includes reflections on the career of Yasir Arafat by Mamdouh ‎Nofal, a former member of the PLO Military Council who had ample opportunity over ‎thirty-five years to observe and interact with the Palestinian leader; the piece is ‎particularly interesting for the little known incidents it recounts from Arafat’s early ‎career. The issue includes as well excerpts from the “life history” of Um Jabr Wishah, a ‎refugee living in Gaza, recalling pre-1948 life in Palestine. The excerpts inaugurate what ‎we hope will be an occasional series, “Palestinian Voices,” presenting contributions to ‎the oral history of Palestine.‎

—Rashid I. Khalidi

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