On February 21, 1999, the Palestine-Israel Journal held a round-table discussion on the subject of "Towards Statehood." It was moderated by Dr. Gershon Baskin, the Israeli director of IPCRI (The Israel-Palestine Center for Research and Information). The participants were Prof. Musa Budeiri, who teaches political science at Al-Quds University and is head of the Regional Studies Center; Prof. Galit Hasan-Rokem, who teaches Hebrew literature and Jewish folklore, and chairs the folklore program at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem; Prof. Camille Mansour of the Institute of Law at Bir Zeit University and the University of Paris; and Gideon Levy, a columnist for Ha'aretz and winner of the Sokolov Prize for journalism in 1998.

Gershon Baskin: The question is, what is the legal status of the Palestinian-Israeli relationship following the termination of the interim agreement on the eve of May 5, 1999?

Camille Mansour: First of all, we have to say that the transitional period ends on May 4, 1999, according to the agreements between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization. However, the Declaration of Principles of September 1993 contains two categories of provisions, one of a permanent character and the other setting the stage for transitional arrangements.
What is permanent and not transitional is, for instance, the fact that the two sides recognize each other. The fact that the two sides have agreed to deal with the final negotiations on the basis of U.N. Resolution 242 is also permanent. The two sides also have a permanent commitment to resolve their differences through negotiations and not through other means.
Everybody recognizes - or at least the Palestinian side and the international community - that the West Bank and the Gaza Strip are occupied territories. Insofar as the arrangements have the aim of ending the occupation in Zone A, an Israeli withdrawal and the installation of the Palestinian Authority - insofar as these have taken place, are irrevocable steps. They cannot be dismantled.

Gershon Baskin: They are not limited by time?

Camille Mansour: They are not limited by time. These are positive steps to dismantle occupation, and from an institutional or functional or territorial point of view, they have to remain in place. But other arrangements between the two sides are of a transitional character. From a legal point of view, the Palestinian side can obviously say that it is no longer bound by these transitional arrangements.

Galit Hasan-Rokem: You gave examples of provisions that cannot be reversed; could you give some examples of transitional arrangements that can be reversed.

Camille Mansour: Many transitional Israeli operations or limitations accepted by the Palestinian side cannot be imposed on the Palestinian Authority; for instance, control of Zone B cannot be imposed.

Gershon Baskin: Zone B cannot become C. It can only move to A?

Camille Mansour: Exactly. Zone A cannot become C. A return of the Israeli army to Zone A is not possible from a legal point of view because it means going back to occupation. We cannot dismantle steps against occupation and then go back to occupation because occupation, in international law, has to end at one point.

Galit Hasan-Rokem: If Oslo is an ongoing process, does that mean that, even if it was never stated, the idea of a Palestinian state at the end of the road must have been there?

Camille Mansour: That is obvious for me.

Gershon Baskin: Wasn't it obvious for you?

Galit Hasan-Rokem: Was it obvious for Israelis who signed the 1993 agreement? That is my question.

Gershon Baskin: I am reminded of the quotation from Yitzhak Shamir who said he would never negotiate with the PLO, not because they were a terrorist organization, but because negotiating with the PLO meant negotiating a Palestinian state. So it seems obvious that the handshake on the White House lawn between Arafat and Rabin was, in essence, formulating the final stage of the peace process as statehood, as Prof. Mansour said.

Galit Hasan-Rokem: Is there any logical way of seeing it in a different way?

Camille Mansour: I do not want to be subjective, but the government at that time, under Rabin, recognized the PLO as the representative of the Palestinian people. The PLO has an official international status. It has an observer's seat at the U.N. It declared a state in 1988. Rabin asked Arafat - and he got - the annulment of those provisions in the Charter that are against the existence of Israel. Rabin did not ask Arafat to cancel the program of statehood, and the program of statehood was already announced. So implicitly -

Gershon Baskin: And it is recognized by more than 100 countries.

Camille Mansour: - that meant recognizing the PLO as having an international personality in terms of peoplehood. Not yet territoriality, which is something else, but in terms of peoplehood, already enjoying sovereignty.

Gershon Baskin: Dr. Budeiri, what is the significance of May 5, 1999?

Musa Budeiri: Dates should not be seen so much in legal terms, but rather as a function of the political situation within Israel itself and between Israel and the Palestinians. I want to go back to what Rabin said, that there are no sacred dates. This is much more important than any kind of written agreement. We are in a fluid situation. We will see what happens and we will move step by step.
In that context, I do not see the process as having a final stop, a final station which was agreed upon by both sides, or which was even perceived by Rabin and the people around him. I am not sure they knew where the road was going to lead. I think they were open to different directions. I could say they knew what they wanted, but I will be charitable and say they were playing it by ear, so to speak. I think the Palestinians are very much prisoners of the Israeli political game. I do not see the Palestinians as having leverage. They would like the Americans and the Europeans to play a role. I cannot see what leverage they have. They will not unleash some sort of armed rebellion. They are not going to engage in terrorism. And I do not understand what other leverages there really are because leverage is the power you have to do things.
The Europeans do not have much leverage either. They do have the Common Market, but they have shown they are not very willing to use that leverage, despite utterances every now and again. The Americans could do much more. But much depends on what kind of government you have in Israel anyway, after the elections.

Gershon Baskin: Mr. Levy, do you share the view that the Palestinians have no leverage?

Gideon Levy: The bon ton in Israel now is, fortunately, to say that everyone is in favor of a Palestinian state. Right and left, almost everybody.
There is much talk about a Palestinian state, but especially if you come to Israelis and ask them where exactly is the state that you are in favor of, they have no clear answer. As long as the territorial question is not solved, I do not see how this state is going to become real, except in terms of propaganda or of slightly improving the international status of the Palestinians around the world.
But getting down to earth, it is not realistic as long as the Israelis do not come to terms with the territorial question. In my view, this is critical. Each of us who travels in the West Bank and knows the great distance separating Gaza and the West Bank - much greater than the geographical distance - has to wonder where exactly will this state be. And many Israelis, unfortunately, are still speaking about the settlements and their future, not their removal. So I think a discussion about the Palestinian state is a bit premature. At least, in Israeli public opinion there is much bluff: they are all in favor of a Palestinian state, but none of them is ready to give up land for it. What do you mean by a Palestinian state when a citizen of Bethlehem cannot go to Ramallah? And nobody thinks that with a state anything will be changed on the ground. Bethlehem will be part of the Palestinian state and Ramallah will be part of the Palestinian state and both will be surrounded by settlements. So what kind of a state are we talking about?

Gershon Baskin: An argument could be made that the negotiations that would take place between a sovereign Palestinian state and a sovereign Israeli state would take place on a different footing than negotiations between Israel and the PLO. The rules of international law and the fact of Palestinian membership in the United Nations and United Nations bodies as an equal player according to international law, change the basic rules of the game in the negotiations themselves.

Galit Hasan-Rokem: Mr. Levy stated as a fact, that it is bon ton in Israel to say you are for a Palestinian state. Five years ago - even four years ago - it was very far from bon ton, and I want to note that change does happen, and to talk about how such change occurs and how it can be shaped regarding the territorial question. An official diplomatic and political process creates changes at the grass-roots level, and here we have a wonderful example of it. I think there was a poll that said 77 percent or so of Israelis do not necessarily say they are for a Palestinian state, but they realize it is, or
will be, a fact. That is a tremendously important factor and a highly important change in the Israeli mind - the realization that there is going to be a Palestinian state willy-nilly. I do not know what this means with regard to the territorial question, and I agree that this is a tremendous problem. But since we have seen that mental changes occur, I think we should not totally rule out enormous mental changes in the future.

Gideon Levy: The Israelis, unfortunately, are always too little and too late.

Gershon Baskin: So are the Palestinians.

Gideon Levy: But, as an Israeli, I am much more concerned about Israelis. What they could have achieved ten years ago they can no longer achieve now, and what they can achieve now they will not be able to achieve in ten years, even in their own perceived interests. Prof. Hasan-Rokem is very right that there is this big mental change, but I do not want us to be too self-satisfied because all those changes did not yet require any real price from the Israelis.

Musa Budeiri: An ideological price maybe.

Gideon Levy: Maybe, yes, and it was gradual. By the way, I always thought of the Israeli people as more moderate than their politicians. Always. When I was working with Shimon Peres in the late 1970s, early 1980s, he was really frightened of the idea of negotiating with the PLO. Any leader who would even mention the PLO would commit political suicide. Public opinion is far beyond its leaders. The leaders have always been behind the people.
And it is the same now. This bon ton of a Palestinian state did not start from the leaders. The only leader who says it very clearly, even now, is Shimon Peres. Ask Barak. Ask everybody. They cannot even mention the concept of a Palestinian state. When you talk to the people, you hear more about the subject. Let us not have any illusions. There is a change, but the real change and the real price must be the territorial one. And I do not see, right now, the leader who will evacuate settlements, and the Israeli elections have no meaning with regard to those questions because there is so very little difference among the candidates, especially on a personal basis.

Camille Mansour: I agree concerning the questions of territoriality and the fact that Area A is really surrounded by settlements and bypass roads and so on. But there is pressure to implement the Wye River Memorandum and to finish the second redeployment - and hopefully the third - before entering final-status negotiations. There are all these questions on which the U.S. is not putting pressure. They are putting pressure on Arafat not to declare a state, but nevertheless, there is a universal expectation among the Palestinians that May 4 is an important date. Unfortunately, in terms of stability in the area, we have the possibility of an explosion, and one can see seeds of such a development. As Mr. Levy said, Gaza and the West Bank are much farther from each other than their geographical distance. People cannot come and go. Borders are not under the control of the Palestinian Authority, as everybody knows. This situation in itself is of an explosive nature.

Galit Hasan-Rokem: The Palestinians signed an agreement which was based on territorial compromise. How does Palestinian public opinion relate to that compromise? Is there a stable majority in the Palestinian public opinion for the compromise?

Musa Budeiri: Are you talking about Oslo?

Galit Hasan-Rokem: Yes.

Camille Mansour: The West Bank and Gaza are supposed to be under self-government until the final status of the territories is determined. Insofar as it means independence and sovereignty over the West Bank and Gaza, I think the majority of the Palestinians here - and even outside - agree to it completely.

Musa Budeiri: Going back to what Mr. Levy was saying about leaders and citizens, I do not want to say the public, on the Palestinian side, is more moderate because I do not think so. But I am not sure how much faith people have in what the Authority is doing, what it claims to be doing, what it claims it wants to do, and how it reaches its agreements with Israel.
I do not think the people follow in detail what is going on, but they have been disappointed. The perception after Oslo was that this was going to be something immediate. All right, there were all these dates and transitions, but people were thinking that something was going to happen soon, if not today, tomorrow, if not tomorrow, the day after tomorrow. They have realized, first, that very little has happened, and, second, while this very little was happening, the Israelis were continuing to transform the situation on the ground. This has resulted not in people becoming more militant and taking to the barricades, but in people becoming despondent, shunning public life and sort of withdrawing into their own private sphere. Thus the mushrooming of NGOs for those who are activists, etc.

Gideon Levy: I just came from a village near Nablus called Beit Dajan. Last Sunday, the Israeli army destroyed around 600 olive trees there. I was sitting with the farmer who owns the land. Most of the olive trees were 12 years old. The place is really in the middle of nowhere. There cannot be a bypass road because it is on a mountain. There is no settlement nearby. And you ask this Palestinian about peace, about Oslo, and he will answer you that this is not peace. But if you ask him if he is in favor of peace, he will say, yes, I am in favor of peace. And that is what I guess most of the Palestinians will answer. Yes, in favor. Why should they say no?
But I more than agree that there is real desperation and passiveness and retreating back into private life. There is no ambition to do anything for the idea, for the cause, for the people. I think something has really been broken in the Palestinian spirit. So they will continue to say they are in favor of peace. But again, I have to say, do not overestimate this. They are quite desperate, if I can judge it as an outsider. They destroyed our olive trees. We will plant them again. We will do what we can do and we will wait for something to happen.

Gershon Baskin: The target of the despair is not only Israel now, but also the Palestinian Authority leadership.

Musa Budeiri: This is something that happened with the Palestinian Authority. People say there is now an Authority. They are the ones who are dealing with Israel. They are the ones who are negotiating. They are agreeing to bypass roads. You know, why should I go from Jerusalem to Nablus or wherever and demonstrate against bypass roads when I know, in the negotiations, these things are being discussed? Or I assume these are being discussed. There is no sense of collective action. There is no collective project going on which people feel they are part of and which people
feel they have to engage in, as there was before Oslo. This is the issue.

Gershon Baskin: Maybe it is because the leadership has not taken decisive steps. Maybe if the leadership stood up and declared independence, it could rally the support of the people.

Musa Budeiri: There is a lot of cynicism. One could conduct some kind of sustained campaign of standing up to the Israelis, not on one front but on all fronts, and not just going to the Laromme Hotel and negotiating in the evening. But people read in the papers what happened and say, all right, these confrontations outside the District Command Office (DCO) in Ramallah, Nablus, Jericho are not serious. These are the people who are either actively concerned because their bit of land or their trees are gone, or they are "professional" demonstrators. But people do not feel that an on-going confrontation right now is really meaningful.

Camille Mansour: I see no contradiction between passiveness and explosiveness. No contradiction at all. You maybe give the impression that passiveness means there will be no confrontation for years to come.

Musa Budeiri: There was passiveness before the Intifada. Total passiveness.

Gershon Baskin: Twenty-five years of passiveness.

Camille Mansour: Exactly. So let's not have illusions about apparent passiveness. I also feel it. You can also feel it at the checkpoints, the way people behave and so on. Underneath the passiveness there is an explosive character. You do not know when it will explode, but you know it cannot possibly stay like this. It might be addressed against the Palestinian Authority. It could be geared towards the Israelis. We do not know. Nevertheless, I can say this situation cannot rest until there is a real process of negotiation between the two sides on territory and sovereignty and so on.

Musa Budeiri: We have to ask who the constituency of the Palestinian Authority is. It is clear I think, from Oslo till now, that their constituency is not the Palestinians, in the sense that they do not play to the inhabitants of the West Bank and Gaza. They are playing to the international arena, to the Israeli arena.
The Authority has very little credibility. Not in the sense that people do not like Arafat - that is not relevant here and it is not the issue - but in the sense that they see the Authority as a prisoner of Israeli dictates. They see the Authority as being dependent on American goodwill, they see the Authority as having no leverage, and they see the Authority as not being able to mobilize them for action because it does not play to them. In that sense I say this is not their constituency.
Going back to pre-Intifada times and comparing the quiet now and the quiet then, the situation is very different. Before the Intifada there was a lot of grass-roots political activity. There was a myriad number of active groups - women, trade unions, students, political groups. And although there was quiet on the surface, beneath the surface it was boiling with activity. So when the explosion came, all these groups were able to grasp the opportunity and to mobilize.
Now there is a total absence of political activity on the ground. There is no credible opposition. Whatever the Israelis say about Hamas and the threat Hamas poses, there is no political activity of Hamas on the ground. They might engage in all sorts of charitable and educational activity, but I do not feel it on the ground. And of course, the rest of the constituent groups of the PLO do not exist at all, with only symbolic leaders and declarations, and without credible opposition with political activity to propel the political process forward.

Gideon Levy: The biggest difference is that before the Intifada it was before the Intifada, meaning now they have experienced Intifada. And many of them say it was not worth it. People paid such a huge personal price. You hear it again and again. It was not worth it if this is what we achieved. So it is not only the passiveness. It is also something much deeper. Desperation.

Gershon Baskin: I hear a longing, a romanticism of the Intifada from people in the street. Every time I get into a taxi in Gaza, one of the first things the taxi driver starts talking about is wishing the Intifada was back.
When I hear statements like those you were referring to, they are from people who spent 15 years in Israeli prisons, and it was not worth it.

Gideon Levy: And there are so many of them. They are not a minority.

Camille Mansour: But there is a difference from before and during the Intifada. Now you have a Palestinian Authority upon which people have been dependent for the last three years. Once there were popular movements here in Jerusalem, in the West Bank, or even in Gaza. You have now 50,000, maybe 60,000, 70,000 - maybe 100,000 - people personally dependent upon the direct control of the Palestinian Authority. They were not under the direct control of the PLO before. They were activists. But the fact that you have so many people dependent on the Authority is very important, very meaningful.

Galit Hasan-Rokem: What is your assessment of the economic situation in the present compared with five years ago?

Gershon Baskin: There has been negative growth, a decrease in employment.

Musa Budeiri: An increase in unemployment.

Gershon Baskin: Per capita income has gone down. There are only two really positive economic things one can point to. One is the creation of a $400-million to $500-million public sector that did not exist before.

Camille Mansour: Infrastructure.

Gershon Baskin: And the existence of a banking sector that did not exist before. The overall economy is in worse shape than it was five years ago, but there are some structural changes.

Galit Hasan-Rokem: Are lots of individuals in better shape?

Gideon Levy: I am not sure.

Musa Budeiri: Individuals, yes.

Gershon Baskin: There were probably more individuals in better shape five years ago than today.

Gideon Levy: The only ones in much better condition are really the highest strata.

Musa Budeiri: There is a trickle-down effect.

Gideon Levy: A soldier who now makes $600 a month.

Gershon Baskin: There are 90,000 legal and illegal Palestinian laborers today in Israel. The daily wage for a day laborer in Israel is 150 shekels. In Bethlehem he gets 40, 50 shekels for the same work.

Gideon Levy: I hear more nostalgia about the days they were working in Israel. I am always amazed the way they talk about the days in Tel Aviv, sleeping in those terrible conditions. They really miss those days because their income was better. And you know what? Sleeping in Tel Aviv, for many of them, was better than sleeping in Jabalya.

Gershon Baskin: On a different topic, what kind of Palestinian state will you have? Can we learn anything from the example of the last four years about what the state will be?

Gideon Levy: I will just say that when the Israeli army left Gaza, all the pessimists in Israel said there would be bloodshed and anarchy, that Gaza would be one big blood bath. This did not happen. And I know all the criticism about democracy and freedom in the territories. Still, we really have to see the glass as half full. Actually, it is more than half full. It started with the elections. I know it is very popular to be cynical about the elections, but finally there were elections, and they were quite well organized. And in spite of all the big violations of human rights in the Palestinian Authority and people imprisoned without being brought to trial, still, there is no reason to lose hope that the Palestinian state will be democratic. There are more signs of democracy than of the opposite.
There are many very severe violations of human rights. But as an observer from the outside, I say we should look at what did not happen. People are not killed. People are not assassinated. People do not disappear by the hundreds. The opposition has some freedom. With all the problems of a newborn state, I still think the Israelis should appreciate what did and what did not happen there.

Musa Budeiri: I always have a problem with this question about the shape of the state because I feel that it somehow implies that a state should only go to the deserving. I always thought that self-determination of a state goes both to the deserving and the undeserving. It has nothing to do with deserving or whether we set up a nice state. This is a red herring, what kind of state. I might have more criticism than Mr. Levy, actually, about what is going on, but I think it is irrelevant. This has nothing to do with the essence of the problem.
Israelis always tell me they are worried because they live in this neighborhood which is violent, where people do not have human rights, where democracy is not institutionalized. In that sense, they have a right to be worried because, after all, they live here and they have to look after themselves. I always say to them, you chose to come and live in this neighborhood, and this is what the neighborhood is like. You want to gentrify the neighborhood. But wherever you go in the world, people don't like to have their neighborhood gentrified. It might be in their interest, but it is a very gradual process. If you want to live in the neighborhood, don't come and start to try and change it. Try to find your place in it.
So this place that will be established here - and I have my doubts if it will ever be established - will be similar to every other Arab state. Definitely not better, maybe worse, because it is starting 50 years later than Jordan, for example, or Syria - or even Iraq, although one does not like that comparison, of course. That is why I do not like to indulge in speculating about what kind of state this will be and what it will be like.

Camille Mansour: We cannot say the Palestinian state will look like X or Y or Z. I do not know. But if we look at the situation today, we have public administration, ministries of health, education, higher education and social affairs, infrastructure and so on, which for a country which has been constituted in the last four years, I think is very good, even if there is some corruption.

Galit Hasan-Rokem: We know some other places in the neighborhood which have corruption too.

Camille Mansour: There are institutions taking care of the Palestinian people in the West Bank and Gaza. Concerning public administration, in four years big advancements have taken place. With the Legislative Council, there are many, many problems. Nevertheless, all the members are eager to learn and act according to the constitutional process. Today they are not strong enough. Maybe because of the structure, because we do not have a ruling party and an opposition, the Council does not express this traditional image in other countries. Nevertheless, there is in operation a Legislative Council which enacts, which votes.

Gershon Baskin: Which is completely dependent upon the executive branch. It is not independent.

Camille Mansour: Because the majority of the members are of the same party as the government, the executive.

Gershon Baskin: Is that the reason? You have a situation where the parliament, the Legislative Council here, has passed laws, the most important being the constitution, the basic law, that the executive refuses to sign.

Camille Mansour: Sure. And many others. The main problem is that the majority of texts voted upon by the Council are not being promulgated by the President. That is one problem, in terms of the relationship between the executive and the Legislative Council.
The judiciary is not independent, to say the least, and that is a big problem in terms of human rights and of due process. Nobody can exaggerate the criticism that has to be addressed against the Palestinian Authority on that subject. But I would also like to stress that people are eager to learn. From my experience here in the last three or four years, people in the judiciary, in the legislative - even civil servants - are very, very eager to learn. People on the police force learn about human rights and about due process in criminal matters. So there are the two sides to the coin. But what the state will look like, I do not know.

Musa Budeiri: Really you don't know?

Camille Mansour: I don't know. But I know what is happening, and I have to see both the positive and the negative sides. The negative side in terms of due process of law is not good.

Galit Hasan-Rokem: What is your assessment of the educational system at present?

Camille Mansour: There is a Ministry of Education.

Galit Hasan-Rokem: Are the majority of the schools under its control or jurisdiction?

Camille Mansour: Yes. All the schools.

Gershon Baskin: Even private schools are also under the authority of the Ministry. Even in the UNRWA schools, the curriculum is under the Palestinian Authority.

Camille Mansour: Now there is a new curriculum for all the classes. It seems that the Ministry of Education is doing all right in this situation that it has inherited. In Gaza there are two or three shifts a day.

Gideon Levy: I don't know about three, but two for sure. But in Israel in the 1950s, it was the same. In Tel Aviv in the 1950s, it was the same - morning and afternoon.

Gershon Baskin: How do people see the settlements? Can there be settlements and statehood?

Camille Mansour: Settlements under Palestinian sovereignty? Under Palestinian sovereignty there are no settlements. There may be Israelis, but not settlements. Israeli citizens living under Palestinian sovereignty, there is no problem with this. But settlements which are out of bounds for Palestinians, that is not possible under Palestinian sovereignty. That means extraterritoriality.

Gideon Levy: We shouldn't fool ourselves, if you will excuse me, because Israelis keep on saying that maybe some settlements will stay under Palestinian sovereignty. We know who the settlers are. There are two kinds of settlers. The majority are those who went for better and cheaper housing and, though it won't be easy, they will go back to Israel proper if given better and cheaper housing. And if there will be a good sum of reparation money, they might even do it willingly. The others are the ideological settlers.
Neither of the two categories will stay under the sovereignty of the Palestinian state in the long run. We must face reality. It is impossible that those people will remain in the Palestinian state. Maybe there will be some small groups, but the bulk of them will not be able to stay under the Palestinian state. Either they will be evacuated or they will remain, and then there is no Palestinian state in those territories where they are located.

Gershon Baskin: No government of Israel will ever negotiate an agreement that will leave Israelis under Palestinian sovereignty. Wherever there will be Palestinian sovereignty, there will be no Israelis.

Galit Hasan-Rokem: Since where there is Palestinian sovereignty there will not be an Israeli, the fact is that the Israelis there are the main barrier to Palestinian sovereignty.

Gideon Levy: I have always said that the settlements are a big historical success because they were established to do exactly what they are now doing - actually preventing any possibility of a real peace agreement. They are very successful historically. They are fulfilling exactly what they were established for.

Galit Hasan-Rokem: It is obvious that the settlements are the main obstacle. But the question is what are the possibilities of the transformation of the conflict under the present conditions and under what we foresee in the next, let's say, year?

Camille Mansour: To be realistic, maybe the most that can be attained in the next few months - or even years - is specific agreements between the two sides, and other issues being postponed. There are new parameters that did not exist before 1993. There are new parameters because you now have an Authority here which can negotiate with the Israelis and can reach agreements. So issues are left aside where tension can continue, and other arrangements are made where cooperative minimalism can be found. I am not saying that is my wish, but if one has to try to look from the outside, that is what is happening.

Musa Budeiri: I understood Mr. Levy to talk in the beginning about a consensus among Israelis that a Palestinian state is coming, but that there is no consensus as to where the state is and no consensus regarding giving up territory.
That is why any discussion which does not take into consideration the dynamics of Israeli society cannot really give an answer to the question, if there is going to be state, what will it be and where will it be. It is all intertwined and interlinked with the transformations going on within Israeli politics. I do not know what will make the Israelis face the issue of territoriality, what will make them think, all right, a Palestinian state is coming, maybe we don't like it, but it's coming. And what will make them think where it can be. What will make them think they are ready to pay a price for achieving some sort of peaceful, or, at least, permanent arrangement with the Palestinians.
I do not know what will make them do all that. But until that happens, it is a one-sided discussion to talk about what the Palestinians want. The Palestinians know what they want. I do not want to sound too optimistic. There are also nuances among the Palestinians. But it is clear, more or less, that they want a state within the 1967 borders, and they want the return of the refugees - not only of 1967, but also of 1948. But they do not have the power to implement this. This can only be implemented in agreement with Israel.

Gideon Levy: This is the tragic aspect of Palestinian destiny for the short run - not the long run - that so much depends on Israel now.

Gershon Baskin: One of the sad things is that, even among those Israelis who accept the Palestinian state - such as Barak, for example - their vision of the Palestinian state is one of barbed-wire fences, of separation. This notion of separation - I call it the anti-vision of peace - is not one which is going to sustain peace.
If you are asking what it will take to get the Israeli public to be more forthcoming on the issue of territoriality, it depends very much on this notion of a situation where openness is not endangering personal security. There is no question that the Israelis have a psychosis about security, but it comes from somewhere.

Musa Budeiri: I am old enough to be able to remember the various kinds of securities that the Israelis have had a psychosis about. The Israelis had a psychosis about collective extinction, about the destruction of the state.

Gershon Baskin: We are not talking about that. We are talking about getting on a bus and arriving to your destination without being blown up.

Musa Budeiri: This personal security is a new thing. You are not safe in New York or Beirut or Nairobi or Cairo. There is no personal security in that sense. This is something that has come from the top downward. I do not think there has been a groundswell of feeling about personal security which has not been elaborated by the leadership. This has been imposed by the establishment.

Gershon Baskin: It also comes from the bottom up because when we are talking about a notion of peace, we are talking about a notion that encompasses personal security.

Gideon Levy: So much is manipulated in the Israeli-Palestinian dispute. So much. Even the settlements we were talking about. Most Israelis have never been in a settlement and they really don't care about them. They have nothing in common with most of the settlers.
But no elected leader will stand up and be courageous enough to say the destiny of the settlements will not be decided in the settlements. It will be decided in public opinion in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, not in that of those small extreme settlements. If they would be isolated in Israeli society it would be much easier to evacuate them. In Sinai they were all isolated in public opinion. Therefore, it was easy to evacuate them. The problem is that we lack really courageous leaders. That is the problem, from an Israeli point of view. And I can assure you that none of the candidates in the 1999 elections has the necessary courage.